Taylor's presence eased wear-and-tear on Fort
Taylor's presence eased wear-and-tear on Forte
By Brad Biggs
In the rush by some to run Chester Taylor out of town, they forgot the words of Jerry Angelo when the Chicago Bears general manager assessed the season the day after the loss in the NFC Championship Game.
Asked about Taylor, Angelo said the mere presence of the free-agent acquisition had made Matt Forte a better running back. Taylor signed a $12.5 million, four-year contract in free agency last year, and statistically, the season was a disaster for him. He became the first back since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 with a minimum of 100 carries to average less than 2.4 yards per carry.
But the Bears believe having a proven pro like Taylor around made the position stronger, and certainly something contributed to what was easily the best season of Forte's three-year career. Having someone the coaches trusted to take Forte off the field was the key. He was fresher in 2010 and it showed as he was better in the second half of the season. Forte was on the field for more snaps in 2008 and 2009 combined than any other back in the NFL.
With Taylor to spell him, Forte's playing time didn't dip dramatically, but it dropped enough to keep him strong. Forte was on the field for 688 of 980 offensive plays in 2010, according to statistics provided to the Tribune, putting him at 70.2 percent. In contract, he was on the field 82.4 percent of the time in 2009 when offensive coordinator Ron Turner didn't trust anyone to take his place. That season, Kahlil Bell, Adrian Peterson and Garrett Wolfe pieced together 177 snaps to spell Forte. Taylor was on the field for 302 snaps, giving him 30.8 percent. There were a handful of plays when they were used in combination in the backfield. Here is a look at the playing time for 2010:
Matt Forte: 688 snaps, 70.2 percent
Chester Taylor: 302, 30.8
Garrett Wolfe: 4, 0.4
Kahlil Bell: 0, 0.0
Wolfe is an unrestricted free agent and Bell and Harvey Unga figure to compete for roster spots. But it's not like there is necessarily going to be playing time in the backfield unless there is an injury. It's also worth noting fullback Jason McKie had 359 snaps in 2009, playing time that disappeared for the position under offensive coordinator Mike Martz. We'll take a closer look at that when we break down the tight ends, which is where most of that playing time went.
We've already posted playing-time breakdowns on the defensive line, wide receiver and linebacker positions. Check back throughout the day as we analyze playing time at every position.