Forte closing in on milestone with payton
Forte closing in on milestone
With 22 yards rushing and 13 receiving, he can join Payton as only Bears in 1,000-500 club
Based on the way coach Lovie Smith gushed about Matt Forte on Wednesday, one would have figured the Bears running back had just surpassed Walter Payton's franchise-record rushing total.
Actually, Forte still needs 13,582 yards to top Payton, but he's looking pretty good right now regardless.
"He's a complete running back. He can do it all,'' Smith said of Forte. "He's an all-down running back as a runner. He can run over you with power. He can make you miss in the open field. He's an excellent pass receiver out of the backfield or splitting him out along the line of scrimmage. He's great in pass protection. There's nothing really he can't do.''
Forte stands just 22 yards away from 1,000 for the season and is 13 receiving yards shy of 500. If he reaches both marks Sunday against the Packers, he will join Payton as the only running backs in franchise history to accomplish that feat in the same season.
Forte's effort and the development of the offensive line have equaled more balance on offense. The Bears are the only team to run the ball more than pass over the last eight weeks, with 238 rushes compared to 231 pass plays. They have been the fourth-most balanced team over that span while posting a 7-1 record.
In six of the first seven games — excluding the Panthers game Todd Collins started in place of Jay Cutler — the Bears had 196 pass plays compared to just 114 rushing attempts while going 3-3.
So much for Martz's pass-happy offense.
`It's something that we made a qualified decision now to do because it was the best way for us to win,'' Martz said of running more. "You look at our defense and we've been lights out. Special teams, off the charts. Our part was to hang on to that ball, get points and protect the lead, and get better as we grow. And we've been able to do that.
"Plus, you look at the quality that we have in terms of runners. Matt right now is just, to me, just outrageous the way he's playing.''
Forte never was concerned about his role despite Martz's reputation for airing it out.
"No, not really, because I like catching the ball out of the backfield too,'' he said. "I think (Martz) gave me more chances to excel in this offense both running and catching.''
Smith was asked to compare Forte to Marshall Faulk, who starred in Martz's offense with the Rams.
"I mean, that's a little early,'' Smith said. "I just think right now we wouldn't trade Matt Forte for many guys. He's not on that all-pro team, but what running back has played better football than him as of late?''