When Marc Trestman was hired as head coach for the Chicago Bears there were plenty of skeptics. Even though he had success in the NFL at previous stops, his career path took him to the NCAA, and then the Canadian Football League. Some critics wondered why such a brilliant offensive mind was nudged out of the NFL in the first place, and why it was the Montreal Alouettes that gave him his initial head coaching job.
Kudos to general manager Phil Emery for thinking outside the box by bringing in someone that could give the Bears' offense an identity. Besides hiring Trestman to guide his team, Emery reworked the offensive line in one off season, he added a viable tight end, he traded for and traded up for a couple Pro Bowl wide receivers, and he locked up the tail back that has been a perfect for for Trestman's offense.
Even though the West Coast Offense is often associated with the passing game, Matt Forte rushed for a career high 1,339 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013. He also added a career high 74 receptions and 594 receiving yards as a key component of what has become known as the Trest Coast Offense (TCO). It's a thing!
Forte is often overlooked when discussing the Bears' offense this off season. Quarterback Jay Cutler receives his share of publicity, both pro and con as usual. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are talked up as the best receiving duo in the game today, with young Marquess Wilson being talked up as a break out candidate. Tight End Martellus Bennett is always outspoken and the Bears' offensive line just had their first Pro Bowler since 2006.
It seems odd that a two time Pro Bowler with career numbers near the top of the Chicago franchise could be overlooked, but from a national standpoint Matt Forte is not only overlooked, he's under-appreciated.
Forte spoke with the Chicago Tribune on Saturday night at the Bears Cares Gala about his expectations in year two of the TCO.
"If we keep working hard we're going to take this offense, hopefully, to the top of the league," Forte said. "There's no ceiling. There's no limit that you can put on it."
And why shouldn't he be confident?
The 2013 Bears offense was one of the best in the league, and they are returning every starter from a year ago. The offensive line, a unit that thrives on continuity, will have a full off season to work together. The draft yielded a great system fit to back up Forte, in Ka'Deem Carey. The aforementioned trio of wide outs will each be playing with a chip on their shoulders. Marshall to prove he's still the Alpha of the group, Jeffery to prove his breakout season was no fluke, and the newly bulked up Wilson to show that he's ready for an increased role.
Jay Cutler was playing some of his best football before the injuries mounted up on him a year ago, and he - along with much of the offense - spent time bonding and working out at Marshall's facility in Florida.
The Bears have reason to be optimistic this off season, and it's not just because of the offense. Phil Emery revamped his beleaguered defensive unit with a flurry of free agent acquisitions and he spent his first three draft picks on that side of the ball.
Do you share Matt Forte's confidence for the 2014 season?