Mullin: What were you thinking, Matt Forte?

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Mullin: What were you thinking, Matt Forte?

Monday, Dec. 27, 2010
6:59 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears running back is a Tulane guy, good school, bright guy.

So why would he say the kind of thing he did Monday? And in front of cameras, recorders and reporters??

Matt Forte is 22 yards short of 1,000 for the season, which would push him past that standard for the second time in his three NFL seasons. And he currently is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, which arguably places him in even more rarified air among NFL running backs.

For someone who had 929 last season with injuries hampering him all year, that is truly special.

And Forte knows what how special it will be for his Big Brothers: the offensive line.

It would mean a lot, probably just as much as it means for me to get 1,000 yards, Forte said. Just to hit that benchmark for those guys, because everybody wants to either run for 1,000 or block for a 1,000-plus yard rusher and things like that. Its very important for me to get that, especially for those guys.

Devin Hester is buying his return boys exquisite watches in appreciation of what theyve done to help him achieve his NFL return record. So I asked Forte if hes buying his Big Brothers cars, watches, things like that.

Yeah, Forte said, smiling, all that stuff.

Well, alrighty then for Roberto Garza, Olin Kreutz, Frank Omiyale, JMarcus Webb and Chris Williams, your second Christmas is exactly 22 yards away. You heard him say it.

But for a group that was maligned more than any other all season, the vindication is in the record as well as the records.

They werent ready to declare Sunday as their best game of the season for the simple reason that for a professional athlete, your best game is your next one.

But it felt that way, Omiyale said. We still had some mistakes here and there but I love how we stick together through thick and thin and keep fighting until the clock runs out.

The development and improvement shouldnt be all that surprising. One of the reasons I felt that the 2010 offensive line wouldnt be the disaster it was being portrayed as was the near-exponential improvement that happened when the line finally got together in 2009.

Omiyale and Williams have reversed positions since then. But that five-game stretch produced the best rushing stretch of the season, with more than 100 rushing yards in four of the five games and an average of 111 yards per game. The only real difference from the close of 2009 and now is Webb at right tackle instead of Kevin Shaffer, now the swing tackle and short-yardage heavy.

Starting with the Buffalo game, when Garza came back at right guard from knee surgery, the results have been virtually on par with the closing kick of 2009: eight games, 886 yards - just under 111 yards per game.

The offensive line was blamed for so much that was going wrong early this season. For so much of what's gone right since then, seems only fair that they get credit for that as well.

Credit, and those cars and watches from Forte...

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.

Three Bears necessities to lay a broom on the Lions

Three Bears necessities to lay a broom on the Lions

If the Lions beat the Bears in Detroit, it'd be a recent rarity. No, not the Bears losing, but in this long series that reaches 175 games Sunday. One team or the other has swept the season series 11 of the last 12 years (the lone exception being 2011). The 17-14 Bears win Oct. 2 ended a string of six consecutive losses to their division rivals. At that point, both clubs were 1-3. The Bears have remained at that pace since, while the Lions have taken off, winning seven of eight.

It was Brian Hoyer's steady hand that guided that win, while a Vic Fangio defense missing Eddie Goldman, Pernell McPhee and Danny Trevathan forced Matthew Stafford into easily his worst game of the season.

1. STAY COMMITTED

That first meeting was Jordan Howard's first start, and his first 100-yard game, and the rook ran it 23 times for the first of five 100-yard rushing efforts (113). And since the two Bears touchdowns were scored by a couple of players who won't suit up Sunday (Eddie Royal and Zach Miller, from a quarterback who also won't be suiting up), keep feeding the beast. He's 117 yards from reaching the 1,000-yard mark (after just a dozen carries the first three games), and another 100-yard effort would give him the most for a rookie in Bears franchise history.

2. A FASTER START FOR MATT

...meaning Barkley, not Stafford. The Bears want to avoid a faster start by Stafford and the home offense, which was held to just one first down and 14 total plays on their first four possessions back in October. As Barkley makes his first NFL road start in a dome, he and his offensive teammates need to get out of the gate quicker than they have the last two home games. Before they got things rolling on the final drive of the first half against the San Francisco 49ers, they had four possessions that totaled 14 plays, 27 net yards and two first downs. In Barkley's first start two weeks ago against the Tennessee Titans, they surrounded one 13-play touchdown drive in the opening half with five possessions, totaling 16 plays, 108 yards, three first downs, and an interception.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

3. HOO-RATIO

The Bears have lost the turnover battle in eight of their 12 games, and just twice have they won it. One of those instances was in Week 4. For a team that has just five interceptions all year, against a quarterback who's thrown just five picks, two came in the first meeting on the lakefront. And those picks were by (....wait for it....) Deiondre Hall (the rookie who'll play for the first time since that game), and Jacoby Glenn, who's now back on the practice squad. Now, yes, Stafford is a different beast in his den, and there's a completely different confidence level now for the NFC North leaders. But what if the defense can pull an encore? And can Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks pick up where they left off against another mobile quarterback? The Bears had just two sacks in the first meeting, registered by (....wait for it....) Mitch Unrein and Cornelius Washington.

** Finish up your snow removal by 11 a.m. Plop yourself in front of CSN, and watch ex-Bears Lance Briggs, Jim Miller and Alex Brown join Chris for Bears Pregame Live. Then as soon as the second quarter ends on CBS, log on here to CSNChicago.com as Jim and Chris break down the first 30 minutes and go over second half adjustments on Bears Halftime Live. Finally, as soon as the team's start sharing handshakes, flip back to CSN as the three ex-Bears and Chris provide 90 minutes of reaction, analysis, press conferences and locker room interviews from Detroit on Bears Postgame Live. **

Complete Bears-Lions coverage on CSN

Complete Bears-Lions coverage on CSN

The Bears and Detroit Lions square off Sunday at noon and CSN Chicago has you covered along the way.

Check out a schedule of Sunday's events:

— Meijer Bears Pregame Live with Chris Boden, Lance Briggs, Alex Brown and Jim Miller airs at 11 a.m. on CSN.

— Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Bears Halftime Live streaming live on CSNChicago.com and ChicagoBears.com.

— State Farm Bears Postgame Live airing immediately after the game on CSN.

Important Twitter follows:

— John "Moon" Mullin (@CSNMoonMullin), CSNChicago

— Bears Talk (@CSNBears), CSNChicago

— Kip Lewis (@CSNKipLewis), CSNChicago

— Chris Boden (@CSNBoden), CSNChicago