suntimes
ALOOF 
Weather Updates

Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy battle could decide Bears-Eagles clash

Updated: December 19, 2013 3:08PM



What’s the difference between LeSean “Shady” McCoy and Matt Forte? Not much.

The Eagles’ McCoy leads the NFL with 1,343 rushing yards and 1,850 yards from scrimmage. The Bears’ Forte is third in both categories with 1,200 rushing yards and 1,722 yards from scrimmage.

Both are special running backs.

Bears coach Marc Trestman is focused on the challenge McCoy presents.

“He’s certainly special. He’s such an explosive player, he can do it all,” Trestman said. “We’ve faced good backs every week, and he’s one of the best in the league. He’s a difference-maker. We’re going to have to know where he is, and we’re going to have to do everything we can to neutralize him.

“Last week, it was Josh Gordon. You go in each and every week and say who do we have to neutralize and make sure that we minimize their ability to make a difference. Then you work from there, and [McCoy is] certainly the starting point.”

That’s one of the few differences between the two backs, and that could favor the Bears. While the Eagles’ offense is extremely explosive and productive, DeSean Jackson is the only other player who merits special attention.

Should the Eagles stack the box against Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett have shown the ability to be difference-makers.

But it’s also fair to say McCoy will be the best player on the field.

“He’s fast, he’s quick, he’s got great vision,” Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. “He’s got excellent hands out of the backfield on screens and check-downs. He’s very competitive, he can go the distance and he’s a guy who always wants the ball.”

How do you stop him?

No Bear is more familiar with McCoy than defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, who faced him twice a year with the Cowboys since the Eagles drafted McCoy in the second round in 2009.

“He has unique ability to read his blockers and find holes quickly and explode out of them,” Ratliff said. “Everybody’s aware of what he does, and yet he still produces. So we really have to stay in our gaps and each man just take care of his responsibilities.”

As scary as McCoy can be, he also appears to be a member of the Matt Forte fan club.

“Oh, man, Forte’s excellent, and I was a big fan even before this year,” McCoy said. “I played in the Pro Bowl with him. Nice guy. It’s hard to get a guy who can run, catch and block, and that’s why he’s one of the best running backs. He’s in my top-five running backs in the league.”

Bears linebacker James ­Anderson echoed McCoy’s point and seems to think it helps the Bears.

“They’re both great players,” Anderson said. “They have different types of abilities, but they’re both quick, both can make cuts in open space and they can make the first defender miss. So by having Matt here and getting to practice against him, I think it helps us.”

So will the running backs be the difference in the game? Consider the challenge McCoy has given himself.

“I told the media here [in Philadelphia] I feel like I want to put this game on my back and go out there and showcase what we can do offensively running the ball,” McCoy said. “I just want to go out there and put the offense on my back and get it done.”

If the Bears and Forte are to win, they’re going to need an ­answer for McCoy.

Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.