Matt Forte or Marshall Faulk? You make the call

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Matt Forte or Marshall Faulk? You make the call

Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010
9:45 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Outrageous.

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.
Classy

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.

Sick bay

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.

Bears Talk Podcast: Breaking down camp competition at wide receiver

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Bears Talk Podcast: Breaking down camp competition at wide receiver

On this week’s Bears Talk Podcast, we hear from Markus Wheaton as Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz discuss the training camp competition at slot receiver.

Boden and Stankevitz also weigh in on PFF ranking the Bears’ starting lineup 18th in the NFL, answer listener questions and add another layer of Aaron Rodgers envy.

Listen to the latest Bears Talk Podcast right here:

Can Leonard Floyd break out in 2017? The Bears like the early signs

Can Leonard Floyd break out in 2017? The Bears like the early signs

The Bears believe Leonard Floyd will make the leap from being a promising rookie to a breakout second-year player, the kind who can be a centerpiece of a defense as soon as this fall.  

The Bears in 2016 totaled 37 sacks —12th in the NFL — despite dealing with a rash of injuries and not having a standout player in terms of getting to the quarterback. Willie Young led the team with 7 1/2 sacks, which tied him for 31st in the league last year, while Floyd and Akiem Hicks each had seven. 

Sixteen players recorded double-digit sacks last year. That’s not the end-all benchmark for Floyd in 2017, but for a former top-10 pick with elite skills and, as his coaches and teammate said, the right mentality, it’s not out of the question. 

“With most players, you go from your freshman year to sophomore or rookie to second year, … it slows down, they understand it, they're not thinking, they're reacting,” coach John Fox said. “And so I'd expect that and I've seen that already even in the off-season.”

Floyd, earlier this month, talked about how much more comfortable he feels after a full year of practicing and playing at the NFL level. 

“Everything was just fast when I got here last year,” Floyd said. “This year’s it’s way slower and I feel like I’m doing pretty good this year.”

There are two issues with Floyd that won’t go away until he proves they’re not problems in the regular season, though: His weight and his concussions. 

The weight issue is one Floyd has heard for a while, joking with reporters during veteran minicamp that he was surprised it wasn’t the first thing he was asked during his session with the media. He said he “definitely gained some weight” without revealing how much he’s put on, only saying he feels like he’s in much better shape now than he was as a rookie.

“It’s like night and day compared to last year,” Floyd said. 

The concessions are a far more serious — and scary — issue given it took Floyd two months to fully recover from the second concussion he suffered in 2016. 

The Bears believe Floyd’s concussion issues are correctable, though, given they were the product of poor tackling form made worse by collisions with Hicks. The crown of Floyd’s helmet was too low, so he and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio worked with tackling dummies and sled machines in an effort to fix that issue. 

The hope is that Floyd can stay healthy and marry his skills with a better knowledge of the game to put together a breakout year in 2017. His teammates sounded confident during the offseason program that everything was falling into place for the former ninth overall pick. 

“He’s a great competitor,” Hicks said. “Great energy, fast, athletic, he’s everything you want in an outside linebacker, right? Nonstop motor — I can give you all the cliche terms, but I just feel like as far as the defensive line or an outside linebacker, another year under his belt is only going to make him better.”

Added linebacker Jerrell Freeman: “That guy is going to be good for a while.”