In this biweekly series, I'll detail my thoughts on who I think will need to contribute the most in 2010 for the Chicago Bears to have a successful season. Putting Robbie Gould at #10 was a surprise to some, so I'm sure putting their starting tailback at #9 (down from #5 last year) will prompt some interesting comments.
#9 - Matt Forte - Running Back
The first time I brainstormed this list, I left off Matt Forte. Not because I don't think he'll be a big part of what they do in 2010, but because I caught myself buying the hype that the Bears will be a pass first, pass second type offense. I still think they'll pass more than run, but I don't think it'll be as heavy a ratio as some think.
When Mike Singletary inherited the 49ers and offensive coordinator Mike Martz, one of the first things he did was instruct Martz to be more balanced in his game-plan. Something he did. And even though Singletary parted ways with Martz after that year, it wasn't because Martz rocked the boat in San Fran, it was because Singletary wanted a coordinator that was more in tune with his offensive philosophy. After all, he officially got the gig and was entitled to put his stamp on the team.
Which brings me to the 2010 Bears... Lovie Smith has a run first mentality, something I'm sure he and Martz have discussed at length. The Bears will be involved in a few sloppy games at some point, which will make running the ball even more a priority. While I can't see them getting off the bus running, even though I'm sure we'll hear that from Lovie, I can't see them simply abandoning the run. Matt Forte will get his carries.
Even with new running back Chester Taylor slated to get his fair share of touches, I'm betting Forte will still be the starter. Last season Kevin Jones was in the plans to spell Forte, and yet most experts still predicted good things from him (a Pro Bowl appearance / #1 Fantasy draft pick status). There has been no official word from the Bears as far as what the split will be, but I'm guessing somewhere around 60-70% of the touches will fall to Forte. With Taylor seeing some 3rd down reps and getting in on a couple offensive series each half. I'd even love to see the two of them sharing the same backfield in passing situations, both are good receivers and both are good in blitz pick up.
Had the Bears not signed Taylor I might have had Forte higher on this list, but with a capable and proven guy in place, #9 seemed about right. If Matt Forte can live up to the hype that had built up after his rookie year (by staying healthy) I think he can be an explosive part of the Bears offense. I'm guessing over a thousand yards rushing (with a career best yards per carry), and 40-50 receptions.