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Matt Forte could have big day when Bears meet vulnerable Titans

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Updated: December 5, 2012 6:26AM



One of these days, running back Matt Forte will really break out, enjoying one those games where he gains yards in bunches and produces like the Bears expect him to.

It could be Sunday against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville.

The Titans entered Week 9 a measly 30th in total defense and 28th in rushing defense, allowing 139.2 yards per game on the ground. A road game in Nashville — where there should be Bears fans aplenty — against a team that’s been playing better lately is as good a time as any to lean on Forte.

Last week, it appeared as if the Bears were going to turn to Forte to lead them against the Carolina Panthers. He produced in the first quarter – including the 13-yard touchdown run, diagrammed above — but the Bears steered away from the run game as they faltered on first downs and eventually fell behind.

Forte is too good a weapon to be underused. And a good portion of this past week dealt with how he should be used more.

‘‘We’ve got to get him involved more,’’ offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. ‘‘And you can’t be three-and-out. When you’re three-and-out, you can’t get anyone involved, to be honest with you.’’

Plays similar to Forte’s touchdown run against the Panthers, which came from an ace formation (a single-back set), could and should work against the Titans. Against the Panthers, Forte scored on a trap play in which left tackle J’Marcus Webb pulled to clean out the Panthers’ weakside linebacker and center Robert Garza was just able to seal their middle linebacker. With everyone else maintaining their blocks, the result was a big hole straight up the middle. With the Panthers’ cornerbacks and nickelback in man-to-man coverage and their strong safety running a delayed blitz, the first potential tackler Forte encountered was their free safety, who slipped on his break.

The Titans have done a decent job of containing runs to the outside – they rank sixth — but between the tackles, they can be exploited. They rank anywhere from 21st to 29th based on the direction of between-the-tackles runs.

On plays between the Titans’ left tackle and right guard, opponents have gashed them for an average of more than five yards. That’s why runs similar to Forte’s TD against the Panthers can be effective.

‘‘When you have a special player like that, of course we need to get him the ball more,’’ Bears coach Lovie Smith said. ‘‘We’ll try that. But you can say that about a few of our players.’’



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