Bears want to get Matt Forte the ball as much as possible
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org August 1, 2013 11:49PM
Updated: September 3, 2013 7:49AM
BOURBONNAIS — Here, there, everywhere. If you had to sum up how the Bears plan to use running back Matt Forte in three words, that would about do it.
But the key to that plan is in the details. As much as this season is about determining if Jay Cutler is a franchise quarterback, it’s also about maximizing Forte with different looks and schemes and making him the complete weapon he should be.
Last season, that simply wasn’t the case. It seemed as if the Bears were unsure of how to use arguably their best offensive player. This season, coach Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer appear to have devised an offense that ensures different results.
“Our idea is to get [Forte] the ball as much as possible,” Kromer said.
And it’s how he’s getting it and what his options are at that point that will look different.
Take the running game, for instance. Forte said the Bears used a lot of man-blocking schemes in 2012. Now it’ll be a mixture with a big portion being zone blocking, in which linemen work together to block an area as opposed to having predetermined players to block.
It’ll give Forte more options as a runner, and it’s a scheme he’s familiar with from his days at Tulane.
“[Man-blocking schemes are] good but also difficult to block sometimes because defenses are always moving, and nobody is going to be in a stationary place,” Forte said. “I like zone schemes, inside and outside, because it gives you a chance to read the play and use your vision as a running back.
“You can be patient and pick a hole to go to. If it’s a faster defense, sometimes you can press the hole and cut back. If it’s a two-gapping defense, you can just press, hit one hole and go.”
The Bears can be very tough to overcome when Forte is rolling. They’re 14-1 when Forte rushes for 100 or more yards. The fact that he only has 15 games of 100 or more yards rushing might be a sign that Forte could’ve been put to better use. He certainly has the skills and versatility to be an elite back.
“Last year, they ran a lot of outside man-scheme plays, where they blocked down and pulled around, and he had the speed to do that and patience to get on the blocks,” Kromer said. “I think you’ll see a variety of run styles this year scheme-wise, whether it’s inside, outside zones. It’s all different types of schemes to try to help him change what we’re giving the defense, and he’s talented enough to do anything you ask.”
And then there’s the passing game. Forte had career lows of 44 receptions and 340 receiving yards last season. Kromer is coming from New Orleans, where Saints running back Darren Sproles was essentially a receiver.
“[Forte] can make all the runs, and he can run all the routes,” Kromer said. “We feel like we should utilize him as a receiver as an on-the-line player, getting open at the line of scrimmage, and coming out of the backfield and getting open in passes.”
Trestman said Forte is “at the top of everything” when it comes to grasping all his responsibilities. Running backs coach Skip Peete called him a “very, very smart football player.”
“It’s quite a bit of verbiage, and one or two words will indicate what your assignment will be, and you’ve got to study,” Peete said. “And, obviously, these guys are studying because they come out there, and there’s not a lot of questions.”
Can the Bears’ offense actually be funneled through Forte?
“Well, he’s such a talented player that you ought to,” Kromer said. “You have to really have a play count — how many times does this guy touch the ball? — because he’s that kind of player. You want to get him enough touches to help you win the game.”