Even though Matt Forte missed three games last year for the Chicago Bears, he still played in 55% of the team’s offensive snaps. In 2014 he was in on 92% and in 2013 he played in 88%. Forte had 120 starts in his eight years in Chicago, so it will be odd seeing him in the green and white of the New York Jets.
Taking Forte’s place in Chicago is the ‘running back by committee’ that head coach John Fox has used in his previous stops. He’ll use one, two or perhaps even three different backs this season. The starter may not be as important as the finisher, and those two roles may be different all year long. Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains may go with the hot hand from game to game.
When Loggians was the offensive coordinator in Tennessee in 2013, he had tailback Chris Johnson monopolizing the time in the backfield, but he still managed to find 25% of the time to get him a break. He and Fox share a similar philosophy on offense, so I’d expect much of the same this year.
I would imagine the Bears split their carries a bit more than we’re used to seeing in Chicago, but we’ll have to wait and see just how split they are. I would be very surprised to see one back with over 60% of the snaps in 2016.
Second year pro Jeremy Langford flashed some speed last year and a willingness to get the tough yards, but in my opinion, he didn’t flash enough to be considered the hands down #1 running back in 2016.
Rookie Jordan Howard was very productive in the BIG10 last year and I think he’ll see plenty of snaps as a rookie. He’ll need to prove he can pick up the blitz and catch the ball out of the backfield, but at the very least, the 230 pounder will be able to come in on short yardage situations. Howard is a yards after contact runner than can wear down a defense if he can stay healthy. Being part of a running back by committee approach could be perfect for his health.
I’m optimistic that these two will give the Bears exactly what they are hoping for.
A good bet to make it
The re-signed Jacquizz Rodgers was the 3rd RB last year before an injury took him out after just five games. Before he was lost to injured reserve he played in 15.5% of the special teams snaps and had 14 carries for 42 yards. He’s a good 3rd down option because of his quickness, his hands and his ability as a pass blocker.
On the bubble
If Senorise Perry is going to make the roster, he’ll need to really show up in the 3rd phase. As a rookie in 2014, he played in over 60% of the teams special team’s snaps, and he led them in special teams tackles at 17. He missed all of last year while on injured reserve, but he’s looked pretty good the last two preseasons.
The Bears opened with four running backs on the roster last season, so I think they’ll do the same this year. Ka’Deem Carey started to prove his worth as a special teamer in 2015, playing in 14% of the 3rd phase snaps (in 10 games), but he’ll have to continue to improve that aspect of his game. If it comes down to Carey and Perry for the number four RB role, it could go to the better special teamer.
Here’s something for the Ka’Deem Carey Fan Club to keep in mind, he didn’t even get on the field until Rodgers went to I.R. last year.
The wild card in this position is if the Bears decide to carry a fullback, or go with a tight end dropping into an H-Back role. Right now the Bears have one fullback on the 90 man roster, Paul Lasike. At 5’11”, 258 pounds he can bring some size as a lead blocker or a runner.
That’s him barreling over a defender as a member of BYU’s Rugby team. But for those of you that would like to see some football plays from your football player, here’s his highlight clip from the BYU football team.
He also played some special teams in college, so perhaps he has the edge over a 4th tailback. As someone that enjoys a punishing lead blocker, I’ll be rooting for him this preseason.
What do you guys think will happen at the running back position for the Bears in 2016?