There is this article http://chi.scout.com/2/764573.html that gives reason to be optimistic about the Bears running game, mostly because Cedric Benson is gone. While chemistry is important on a team, its still difficult for me to envision a much improved run game by the Bears in 2008. The other players may not have liked Benson as much as they will like Matt Forte, the "heir apparent" main RB, the blocking effort should be the same regardless. The Offensive Line will have a slightly different look, with Ruben Brown replaced by either backup Terrance Metcalf or Josh Beekman. Fred Miller(whose strength was supposed to be run-blocking) will be replaced by rookie Chris Williams, moving last years LT, John Tait, to RT this year. The main blocking TE duties may also be relegated to rookie, Kellen Davis, and a new mix of WRs dont exactly stand out as great blockers either.
So while the attitude may be a little better in the locker room, it could be argued that the blocking talent has gotten even worse. The aging John Tait will be counted on to psuh the defense back and open more holes this season, and he's not exactly the strong, heavy, mauler that teams rely on for a good run-blocking RT. Ruben Brown was once a Pro-Bowl Guard who could pull and open holes in the second level, but career backups(who couldn't win the starting job even while Brown was injured) will be expected to step up improve on that. While rookie Chris Williams was touted as an excellent finesse-blocking LT, it likely will take a year or two to master the run-blocking aspect for him.
That leaves 2nd roundpick Matt Forte, replacing former #4 overall pick Benson, as the only significant improvement in personnel. Benson was no slouch athletically when healthy, so Forte wont be that much faster or stronger. We must hope he is shiftier and has more heart(which wont be hard to imagine). Does anybody buy that the Bears would always run with Benson in the backfield and pass when Peterson lined up because that was all they were good for? I believe any predictability came from Ron Turner's play-calling, not the RB lined up in the backfield. Was Wolfe really not used because Benson was too valuable to take off the field, or because he may not have what it takes? Are any of you optimistic about the situation?