The 10 Most Important Bears of 2014 - #7 Matt Forte

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For the 6th straight year, I'm bringing you who I believe will be the ten most important Chicago Bears for the upcoming season. Finding his way back onto my list after not making it in 2013 is running back Matt Forte.

Last season wasn't the first time Matt Forte was in a West Coast Offense. His first two years in the league were spent in Ron Turner's version and he put up some very solid numbers. I expected him to thrive in 2013 under Marc Trestman and he did just that, delivering career highs across the board.

I knew Trestman would bring out the best in Forte, I just didn't expect him to lean on him as much as he did. Forte played 87.9% of the offensive snaps last year.

One of the reasons I kept Forte off my list last season was the presence of veteran Michael Bush. I expected Trestman to use Bush much more than former offensive coordinator Mike Tice did, which would lessen the need to rely on Forte as much as years past. Bush only played in 13.1% of the Bears' snaps on offense, down from 23.7% in 2012.

Another reason I left Forte off my list last year was I kind of lumped him and the importance on the run game in with #2 on my most important list last season, Marc Trestman.

With one season of the system in the books we know exactly what to expect from the starting tailback in Trestman's offense. We also found out how much trust Trestman has in Matt Forte. He rarely pulled him that often for backup Michael Bush, and Bush only managed 63 attempts on the season, far less than the 114 he received from Tice.

Forte was even getting goal line and short yardage caries from time to time last year. The offense didn't always come out in a jumbo package on those situations, but instead they spread out the defense and let Forte find a hole, often out of a shotgun formation.

But what if Forte goes down this year? While I expect the TCO to chug along without Forte -- because adaptability was a Trestman strong suit while coaching in the CFL -- there isn't a proven veteran back on the roster.

Newly signed Shaun Draughn had 59 carries in 2012, but his play doesn't elicit confidence. Second year man Michael Ford is unproven and it's too early to call rookie Ka'Deem Carey the next Sweetness. And please don't even bring up Jordan Lynch when talking about filling Forte's shoes.

Trestman's near 90% reliance on Forte last season, coupled with a group of question marks behind him, leads me to add Forte to my list this year.

Hopefully one of the backup running backs can carve out a niche on the game plan week in and week out, but until we see how the playing time is split up, I'll have to assume Forte will be option number one, number two and number three in the run game.

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