Overshadowed in the glow of the Josh McCown Experience in Green Bay was Matt Forte having nothing short of his finest game of 2013: rushing for 125 yards and 5.2 yards per carry, with no run longer than 17 yards, and five pass receptions for another 54 yards.
What stands out about the performance was perhaps that it didn’t stand out.
Besides the three rushing touchdowns he put across on the Washington Redskins, Forte has netted at least 90 total yards in every game this season and remains a gold standard for consistency, averaging more than 100 total yards throughout his entire 83-game career.
He ranks behind only Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles (62) and Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy (52) with 49 first downs converted. More than one-fourth (13) have come on passes.
Forte had his best average-per-reception yardage (10.8) at Green Bay as McCown made excellent use of his running backs for check-downs, with Michael Bush netting 15 yards on his one reception.
Running backs have consistently had big receiving years in Trestman offenses; over his past 10 seasons, lead backs have averaged 65.4 catches per season. Forte has 40 through eight games, on track for the best season ever by a Bears running back.
Walter Payton, who holds the franchise record for receptions with 492, never had more than 53 in any season.
What to watch for: McCown’s use of Forte was timely and effective, and play design appeared to scheme to get Forte in wide-open spaces on multiple occasions rather than just serving as a safety valve for the quarterback. Trestman has history of treating backs as primary targets, and Forte’s production to this point should not be considered a fluke.
Forte caught five passes from Jay Cutler in the loss at Detroit, but the yardage total was just 22 and the offense did not work Forte loose in the middle of the field as it did in Green Bay. With the Lions expected to mount pressure on Cutler as he rebounds from a torn groin, Forte underneath and exploiting the areas between the line and the secondary projects to be a safe option with enormous upside because of Forte’s abilities after the catch.