Chicago Bears

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.

Five Bears who can improve their stock Saturday night against Arizona

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USA Today Sports Images

Five Bears who can improve their stock Saturday night against Arizona

1. QB Mike Glennon

The Bears’ first team offense as a whole could be included under this subhead, whether it’s the offensive line creating holes for a running back (Jordan Howard won't play with a minor corneal abrasion) or the receivers creating more separation to get open. But the onus is on Glennon to be better than he was Thursday night and prove that 0.0 quarterback rating was the product of a small sample size and not a sign of more serious issues. On the other side of things, a bad game from Glennon only would lead to further questions about his ability to succeed as the Bears’ starting quarterback. 

“I mean, (this game is) bigger than the first but not as big as the third,” Glennon said. “I don’t really know how else to say it. Everything gets more amplified Week 1 to 2, 2 to 3 and then ultimately the season opener. Obviously I want to go out and play well but I don’t want to make too big a deal and put too much pressure on a preseason game.” 

2. WR Kevin White

Cameron Meredith can do a lot to help Glennon’s case, but the Bears have a good idea of what they have in the third-year receiver who’s been one of the more steady performers during training camp. Kevin White is in a different position, having not been targeted at all against the Denver Broncos and still needing to prove plenty going into his third year in the NFL. White’s growth this year may be slow, but he needs to show some signs of that growth during preseason games to build up some confidence for Sept. 10. 

“Anytime you go through some injuries, there’s a whole mental game that plays a part of it,” fellow wide receiver Victor Cruz (more on him in a bit) said. “Just talking to him – I think he’s over it. He understands those things are behind him. His confidence is back in his body with the things that he can do. You’re starting to see that out there on the football field. He’s really hitting another gear, catching these balls, going deep down the field and putting pressure on these defensive backs.”

3. WR Victor Cruz

It was a little jarring to see Cruz, a Super Bowl-winning former Pro Bowler, playing until the final snap of Thursday’s game — even if that had something to do with the Bears not having Daniel Braverman available and losing Rueben Randle and Joshua Bellamy to injuries during the game. But Cruz hasn’t seemed to significantly push Kendall Wright for the No. 1 slot receiver job over the last few weeks, and could find himself on the roster bubble by the end of the month. A good showing Saturday night could provide a nice boost to his chance of avoiding that bubble.  

“I've been impressed with him,” Fox said before the Bears’ first preseason game. “He's got a great feel for the game. Sometimes it might not be just how fast they are physically but how fast they play, and he seems to be that type of guy. He's still got plenty of gas in the tank and we're excited to have him.”

4. DE Jonathan Bullard

Bullard is the only player on this list who flashed last Thursday, with an impressive tackle for a loss probably the Bears’ second-best defensive play of the day behind Leonard Floyd’s first-play-of-the-game sack. He’s had a solid camp, too, showing some promising signs after struggling to show much of anything a year ago. For Bullard, Saturday night will be about keeping his arrow pointing up, perhaps to the point that he could start at defensive end opposite Akiem Hicks in Week 1. 

“He’s definitely stronger, faster,” Hicks said. “He was already explosive, right? He has picked up the game to a point where he can play within the scheme now and see things come and be able to predict the play in order to get a step on the guard or the tackle, whoever he’s playing against. Just the things that come with getting more reps.”

5. CB Kyle Fuller

No player may have a better opportunity Saturday night than Fuller, who should be in line to take first-team reps with Bryce Callahan out and Prince Amukamara missing practices this week with a strained hamstring. What Fuller does with this opportunity could be a major deciding factor of whether or not he’s part of the Bears’ 53-man roster — this coaching staff and front office didn’t draft him, and his fifth-year option for 2018 was declined in the spring. 

“It’s a new year,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said earlier this month when asked about Fuller. “We start evaluating guys by what you’ve seen on the field at this point.”

Jordan Howard's eye injury keeps him grounded as Bears fly to Arizona

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USA TODAY

Jordan Howard's eye injury keeps him grounded as Bears fly to Arizona

The Bears' best offensive player won't be suiting up in Saturday's preseason game. In fact, he won't even be on the sideline. 

Jordan Howard suffered an eye injury Friday, preventing him from flying with the team to Arizona. 

Although ESPN's Adam Schefter believes it's minor, that's not a good sign for an offense that relies heavily on the run game.

Joining Howard on the inactive list are more key offensive guys: 

- Kyle Long, OL

- Jeremy Langford, RB

- Joshua Bellamy, WR

- Markus Wheaton, WR

That means Mike Glennon, who is embroiled in a growing quarterback controversy, will have his work cut out for him. 

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears will also be missing some notables: 

- Danny Trevathan, LB

- Mitch Unrein, DL

- Bryce Callahan, DB

- Alex Scearse, LB

- Jonathan Anderson, LB

- Kapron Lewis-Moore, DL

Hopefully Howard and the team can get healthy before the real deal begins because last year's injury-plagued season was certainly no fun.