NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 27: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during a preseason game at LP Field on August 27, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
I'll be honest and admit that I don't think Matt Forte will miss any regular season games this season. But he is digging his heels in a bit over his contract. And whilst some find it hard to blame him, there are others who are losing patience with the Bear's star running back. Lets take a look at a scenario where Forte either holds out, or more remarkably, gets traded. To put it bluntly, could the Bears win without Matt Forte?
Well, of course they could. But it would be fair to say that they stand a greater chance of winning with Forte actually playing, rather than sitting at home twiddling his thumbs.
I'm not going to discuss the contract situation too much here. The Bears have used the franchise tag on Forte, but reports are surfacing that he won't sign any type of contract unless it's a long term one. Let's hope they can get it worked out, but if they don't, what options do the Bears have?
Probably the Bears second biggest signing this year, behind Brandon Marshall, was former Raiders running back Michael Bush. Signed to a deal worth $14 million, many saw the move as some sort of insurance policy to cover any complications with Forte. There seemed to be a brief moment where Forte himself saw it as a slap in the face.
Bush would compliment Forte very well, giving the Bears the one-two punch at running back that seems to be fashionable in the NFL at the moment.
But let's be honest; Michael Bush is no Matt Forte. Where Forte really adds value to the offense is his ability to gain yards as a receiver as well as grinding them out on the ground. He really is a dual threat football player. And while Bush is a good sized player who gains a lot of yards up the middle, he is not as versatile as Forte.
How effective would Michael Bush be if asked to carry the majority of the workload at RB?
He protects the ball well, having fumbled only three times throughout his career. He has a nose for the end zone, and is productive near the goal line. But he's not a feature back. Matt Forte has established himself as one of the top backs in the league, and it would not be fair to pretend that Bush is of the same calibre.
However, please let us not forget one of this writer's favourite players: the mighty Kahlil Bell. I have long been a supporter of his, and feel that if Forte were to miss out on this season, he could really step up and show the rest of the NFL what type of football player he is.
Whilst smaller than Bush, he has good speed once out into the flat and plays with a heart that I like to see as a Bears fan. He is ambitious too, and sees himself being able to be a starting running back in the league.
Back in December, Bell said:
"It was never my goal to be on a practice squad or be a third-string running back. But good things come to those who wait. I've been patient my whole career here with the Bears, and now that I have an opportunity I'm just going to try to run with it and showcase my ability."
And what about full back Tyler Clutts? Aside from the odd reception here and they, he has not really featured as part of the offense. But could this season be a chance for Clutts to make an impact?
Chicago also has running back Armando Allen on the roster. He has a grand total of 15 career rushing attempts, so it would be fair to say he is a little inexperienced. But the Bears obviously saw enough in him to sign him back in September 2011. This little video of Allen from his college days might shed some light on why Chicago snapped him up.
I don't want to be all doom and gloom here. It would be a devastating blow if the Bears found themselves without Forte. I have the Bears winning at least 11 games this coming year, but that figure would surely fall without the services of Forte.
Let's hope for the best and assume that the Bears will work out a deal to keep Forte with the team for a few more years. But if that doesn't happen, does Chicago have enough fire power to still make a run for the playoffs?
Would the Bears still make the playoffs without Matt Forte?
YES (428 votes)
NO (119 votes)
547 total votes