So much for employing a potent ground plan
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org September 13, 2012 10:50PM
Chicago Bears' Matt Forte (22) tries to break away from Green Bay Packers' D.J. Smith (51) during the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Updated: November 13, 2012 1:15AM
GREEN BAY, Wis. — There was a blueprint in place for the Bears, and Matt Forte was supposed to be the foreman.
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice saw the San Francisco 49ers waltz into Lambeau Field on Sunday, hand the ball off to Frank Gore, then sit back and watch mayhem ensue.
San Francisco ran for 186 yards as a team, with Gore racking up 112 of those yards, as well as scoring once.
And as Forte indirectly pointed out often over the last season in wanting an “elite’’ running back contract extension, if Gore can do it, Forte must be able to do it better.
By the third quarter of Thursday’s eventual 23-10 loss to Green Bay, Forte was back in the locker room with a sore left ankle. He missed the remainder of the game.
There went the blueprint.
Forte finished with just seven carries for 31 yards, with his longest run going eight yards. The running back was actually more of a weapon in the passing game, and really Jay Cutler’s only weapon in the first half, finishing with four receptions for 49 yards, including a 22-yard catch-and-run.
Not exactly imposing their will on the ground like the 49ers did.
“We’ll get the running game going,’’ Tice said of the inconsistencies he’s seen, even going back to training camp. “The main thing at the end of the day, we just want to score points. If it takes two plays to score points or 12 or 16 we want to score points. We’re not going to count the minutes of each drive and say we have to slow down the car. We’re not going to play that style.’’
After Thursday, however, it’s hard to get a read on what style of play the Bears are looking to play on offense.
There’s a reason Michael Bush was brought in as a free agent in the offseason, and that was evident against the Pack, as he filled in for Forte and rushed for 54 yards on 14 carries. But playing against a defense that was battered four days earlier; 94 total yards on the ground was embarrassing.
“Anytime you lose a key guy it’s hard,’’ Cutler said of the Forte injury. “I thought Bush came in and did a good job.
“We need to get back to the drawing board and clean some stuff up. The nice thing is we’ll have a lot of time.’’
The extra time will also allow Forte to heal and get ready to balance out an offense that went from high-powered to a witness protection program in just 96 hours.
Not that life without Forte is anything new, with the running back missing the final four games of last season with a knee injury. But life without Forte wasn’t pretty, either, as they went 1-3 in his absence.
And as far as a little extra salt in the wound? On the same night that Forte was lost with an injury, the Bears defense had to watch former Bears running back Cedric Benson almost out-play Forte and Bush combined, rushing for 81 yards and catching four balls for 35 yards.
“He’s great,’’ Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of Benson.
At least someone had the right blueprint on Thursday night.