Amid the feel-good of the win over Cincinnati was some dissatisfaction with the production the offense was able to get out of Matt Forte. It was not a faulting of Forte so much as the overall offense.
It is a situation the Bears are expected to remedy against the Minnesota Vikings.
The issue isn’t simple usage the way it was last season when the one-dimensional structure of the offense relegated much of the personnel into bit players behind Brandon Marshall.
Forte got 25 touches (19 runs, six passes) against Cincinnati and a net of 91 yards with a touchdown. With Michael Bush’s six carries and one pass “target,” the Bears directed the football to their backs on 32 of their 61 total plays.
The key to getting Forte, and Bush, where they want to be is a matter of cleaner run blocking – when is the last time Bears run blocking was more of an issue than pass protection? – on Jared Allen, Chad Greenway, Kevin Williams and the rest of the front seven. And some of that is on Forte.
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“If everybody is blocked and one guy is free, that guy has got to make somebody miss or run over that guy and that is certainly possible,” said coach Marc Trestman. “We have seen Matt do that in watching cut-ups of him through the last couple years where everybody is blocked, one guy isn’t, they’ve got eight in the box and he makes the guy miss in the hole.
“Or he gets skinny enough to be able to move his feet, drop his pads and finish with his feet and make four or five yards before the other guys can rally to the ball.”
Bush and Forte combined for 35 carries in the Bears’ 28-10 smacking of the Vikings in Soldier Field last season. But in the second, Forte had 13 carries for 85 yards and Bush had but one in one of Mike Tice's coaching low points as the Bears mysteriously abandoned the run in the third quarter despite trailing by only seven points. The Vikings put the game away when safety Harrison Smith returned an interception 56 yards for a touchdown.
The traditional way to slow pass rushers of the Allen-Williams caliber is to force them to honor the run. The second is to force linemen to chase screen passes, which the Detroit Lions did masterfully with Reggie Bush last Sunday. With Williams coming off weeks of inactivity and a knee problem, expect the Bears to see exactly where his mobility is.
“You look at the Vikings, a good pass rush team,” said offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. “And so you try to take advantage where you can and they did. Reggie Bush did a nice job for Detroit and they did a good job getting downfield and blocking.”