Throughout the 2009 season, people were pondering "What is wrong" with Matt Forte; his output just wasn't stacking up to his rookie season a year before. Many speculated it was the underwhelming effort of the offensive line, while others attributed it to recently ousted OC Ron Turner's playcalling.
And, a handful of folks mentioned it could be an injury that no one knew about. Maybe it was a combination of everything, but the Bears did come out and say after the season was finished that Forte had been battling an injured MCL throughout the year.
When we look at Forte's rookie numbers, we see-
Rushing: 316 rushes, 1238 yds (3.9 avg), 8 TDs, 1 fumble (1 lost)
Receiving: 63 catches, 477 yds, 4 TDs
Combined: 379 touches, 1715 yds, 12 TDs
Let's take a look at his final 2009 numbers-
Rushing: 258 rushes, 929 yds (3.6 avg), 4 TDs, 6 fumbles (3 lost)
Receiving: 57 catches, 471 yds, 0 TDs
Combined: 315 touches, 1400 yds, 4 TDs
Obviously, the biggest difference between his rookie and sophomore years is the TDs. We also have to keep in mind, we threw a lot more in the Red Zone this season than last year, and had a lot of RZ INTs that negated scoring opportunities.
Forte's total touches went down, which is something that we knew would be necessary after the 2008 year. Outside of the TDs, and the increased fumbles, Forte's injury (and the OL play, and the playcalling) only reduced the yardage by about 300 yards.
My prediction for 2010: Forte will return to his 2008 production, if not more. The reasoning is simple: the OL will be better, Cutler and the WRs will have a year under their belt together, Forte's injury should be healed up, and we should have all the makings of a well-balanced offense. No 8-man fronts to deal with.
Oh, and a guy named Kahlil Bell should be back to help take the load off of Forte as well.