clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

10 Most Important Bears of 2016: #2 Will the running back by committee be able to replace Matt Forte?

For the 8th straight year, I'm bringing you who I believe will be the ten most important Chicago Bears for the upcoming season. Coming in at number 2 are the running backs by committee.

NFL: Chicago Bears-Minicamp Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears head coach John Fox prefers his teams to be physical and aggressive on the defensive side of the ball and physical and balanced on the offensive side of the ball. He’ll definitely coach to his strengths, but as a defensive mined coach, he’s a little conservative and he’d like his offense to be a grind it out type of O. That will keep his defense fresh and opposing offenses will feel a sense of urgency when they finally get a chance to control the clock.

It’s a tried and true philosophy that Bears’ fans should be familiar with.

But are the Bears capable of pulling it off is the question we need answered.

The Bears decided to let their very productive lead-back, Matt Forte, walk in free agency and they decided put their faith in a running back by committee approach that has served John Fox well in the past.

During Forte’s eight years in Chicago he averaged over 100 yards from scrimmage per game and he averaged a touchdown every other game. He has been one of the most productive Bears in the history of the franchise so the youngsters employed to take his place have a lot to live up to.

The top two candidates to make up Chicago’s running back by committee are 2nd year pro Jeremy Langford and rookie Jordan Howard.

Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears Photo by Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images

Even though there’s a vocal Ka’Deem Carey fan club, I don’t think he’s a better player than either Langford or Howard. Carey has a bruising running style, but so does Howard. Plus Howard is bigger and faster, so in my opinion, he’ll get those short yardage carries early in the season instead of Carey.

Last year the Bears were 6th in the league in rushing attempts and they ran the ball 47% of the time (8th most). I would expect new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains to try and stay right in that same ballpark, but his young backs have to prove worthy of the carries.

When Loggains ran the Tennessee Titans’ offense in 2013, his O ran the ball about 45% of the time (8th most that year), so his philosophy will mesh well with Fox’s.

But again, the Bears’ backs will have to prove they can get the job done.

If the young fresh legs of Langford and Howard can produce, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bears creep closer to a 50/50 run pass ratio. An effective running game and a good defense is a great way to win games in the NFL.

The last time the Bears had a top 10 defense and a top 10 running game was 2012 and they went 10-6.

If Chicago can effectively run the ball, it’ll make the game easier for everyone. Play action will open up some big shots downfield, Chicago’s o-line will be able to pound opposing defenses into submission, not having as many 3rd and longs will keep defenses guessing, the Bears’ defense will be able to stay fresher and opposing Os will feel a sense of urgency when they finally get their hands on the ball.

What are you expecting out of the Bears’ running backs in 2016?