You can say the running game for the Chicago Bears last season was one of main driving forces in the Bears playoff run. It gave Mike Martz flexibility in play calling, used the starting offensive tackles Frank Omiyale and J'Marcus Webb strengths which are run blocking, and you didn't see Jay Cutler getting his ass kicked consistently as much as you did before the bye week. Above all you saw the emergence of Matt Forte, and fans seen the potential he could have in a system that has made Marshall Faulk a Hall of Fame player. Forte had, in my opinion, his best season so far as a Bear, showing fans the whole package in the ground game and receiving out of the backfield. We saw Forte run with more power than he did in the past, and saw Martz fully utilize Forte's receiving abilities in his system.
As good as Forte was in 2010 he had little help behind him in Chester Taylor, who didn't play up to his contract. Taylor was so bad last season that there have been rumors floating around the web that he could be released sometime this off-season. This is where 7th round supplemental draft pick Harvey Unga comes into play, who is the last player I will put under the player spotlight.
Who is Harvey Unga?
Before getting kicked out of BYU for an honor code violation, Unga was an all around beast at the running back position for BYU. Here's a look at his Stat line from 2006 to 2009 courtesy of espn.com
At 6-0 237 pounds, Unga is a unique back. The reason why I say this is because for his stature you would assume he's more of a power back, but when you see him run he's more shifty than power. When you combine his shiftiness with his power and strength, it makes it hard for guys in the second level to bring him down. For all his success in the ground game, what makes him a pretty good weapon on offense is his ability to catch the ball out backfield and make big plays.
Here's another player that is being hurt by the lockout. He might have been in line for the back-up RB job, but because of a possible shortened off-season, Lovie might keep Taylor in that role because he's a veteran and has experience in the system. The Bears will most likely keep 4 running backs like last season with Unga and Khalil Bell most likely filling out the depth chart. I can see Unga being the 3rd back on the depth chart and sometime in the middle of the season move into the back-up role once he gets more comfortable in the system. As a back-up, Unga could step in for Forte from time to time without there being a big drop off because defenses will have to play him a lot like they play Forte since he's also a pretty good receiving back. Look for Unga to contribute middle to late in the season for the Bears.