Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010
By John Mullin
That is how offensive coordinator Mike Martz described running back Matt Forte Wednesday. Coming from Martz, who coached outrageous in St. Louis when he had Marshall Faulk, that is seriously high praise even from someone who is given to effusive compliments.
Matt is just outrageous the way hes playing, Martz said. Hes been fantastic. I knew he was really a good player but right now hes been pretty special.
And it may not be too long before the comparisons start between Forte and Faulk, a Hall of Fame running back who was one of the most accomplished all-around backs of his or any era.
With a game to play, Forte has totaled more rushing yards (3,145) than Faulk did in his first three seasons (2,947). He has 163 pass receptions vs. Faulks 164. Faulk was producing his numbers in Indianapolis and didn't become a Martz project until his sixth NFL season (1999), at which time his numbers jumped dramatically in an offense with a spectrum of Pro Bowl players in every position group.
Can he be as good as Marshall Faulk? reflected coach Lovie Smith, who was on the St. Louis staff during Faulks prime. Smith hedged but didnt dismiss that possibility in any way. Aww, I mean, thats a little early. I just think right now we wouldnt trade Matt Forte for many guys. Hes not on that all-Pro team, but what running back has played better football than him as of late?
Smith sees the Faulk-Forte similarities:
To Smith, Forte is a complete running back. He is an every down back. He can run with power. He can make tacklers miss in the open field. He is an effective receiver out of the backfield or split out. He is a strong pass protector.
Of course, Marshall Faulk is a Hall of Famer, Smith said. Of course, he did all that as well as anyone. Matt can do all those things also.
The matchups with him when he is moved outside as a receiver, as happened against the New York Jets and Forte responded with a 24-yard pass reception against a linebacker, you cant get the ball out there to him fast enough, Martz said. I think people when they watch him on film, know hes fast, but when you see him in person run, he has unusual speed and hes a big guy. I think that does surprise people, particularly when he comes out of the backfield. His kind of speed does shock some of those linebackers.
Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, who was a bust in San Francisco, Washington and Chicago but now is going to the Pro Bowl as a Denver Bronco, trashed his former teams with a terse Fk you to those teams, and I mean that in a most professional way.
Lloyd never had more than 48 catches in a season while a 49er, refused to play as a Bear unless he was 100 percent and wound up with 26 catches, and hes criticizing teams for not getting the most out of his talent. Perfect. A man for the millennium.
Receiver Earl Bennett (ankle), center Olin Kreutz (rest) and linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee) were held out of practice Wednesday but expected to be more than ready for Sunday in Green Bay.
The Packers were not nearly, looking every bit like the typical NFL team going into game 16. Defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf), guard Marshall Newhouse (back) and linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) were unable to practice at all and safety Atari Bigby (groin) and fullback Korey Hall (knee).
Green Bay Pro Bowlers Chad Clifton (tackle, knees), Nick Collins (safety, ribs) and Clay Matthews (linebacker, shin) were limited in practice, as were cornerback Sam Shields (knees) and center Scott Wells (back).
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.