Bears are banking on Matt Forte, Michael Bush to get ‘O’ rolling
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org October 17, 2012 10:26PM
Chicago Bears v Jacksonville Jaguars
Updated: November 19, 2012 3:36PM
Late in the third quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Bears executed a screen pass to the right for a 15-yard gain.
As he collected himself and headed back to the huddle, right tackle Gabe Carimi noticed who earned that yardage behind him.
“I’m like, ‘Oh, Bush was the running back on this play,’ ” Carimi recalled. “I never know. I really don’t know until he’s tackled.”
That’s a credit to Michael Bush, who signed a four-year, $14 million contract in the offseason and filled a void the Bears had long struggled to address. Despite some choppy performances, the Bears rank 10th in the NFL in rushing, and starter Matt Forte averages 4.7 yards per carry.
But the Bears know they must do better coming out of their bye against the Detroit Lions’ talented defensive front Monday.
“[Forte] was not 100 percent, but he was good enough to be better than most players,” tight end Kellen Davis said. “He’s arguably one of the best running backs in the league, so to have him healthy is a big deal for us.
“It allows us to do things that we can’t do with everybody else.”
Added coach Lovie Smith, “Getting him right for this next push is important.”
With some downtime, Forte said he’s about 100 percent.
“I was pretty much back to almost 100 the last game we played against the Jaguars,” Forte said, “but having some days off is always good for any injuries.”
Forte had his first 100-yard rushing game of the season against the Jaguars, but his longest run was only 14 yards. And while Bush has been clutch, converting five of seven third-and-one rushing opportunities and scoring three touchdowns, he’s averaging a modest 3.6 yards per carry.
Bush is confident whenever he’s given a chance, but he also recognizes his role.
“[Forte’s] the man, basically, and I’m good with it,” Bush said. “I’m of the mind-set, whenever it’s my turn, I’m going to be ready.”
Against the Jaguars, the Bears racked up 214 rushing yards, nearly double the previous season high set in the opener against the Indianapolis Colts. But the Jaguars have a woeful defensive line, one of the least talented in the NFL. Detroit, on the other hand, is a totally different animal.
“As you see in the last game when they played the Eagles, they got constant penetration, and that kills the run game,” Forte said. “So up front, we’re going to have to try to stop that. They do a lot of different run blitzes, so we’re going to have to do play-actions to try to calm that down.
“But it really just starts up front with not allowing penetration.”
The Bears’ offensive linemen are taking that challenge to heart, recognizing that controlling the line of scrimmage and providing openings for Forte and Bush will open up everything else on offense.
“What Matt and Michael do, defenses have to change their game plans, and we can take advantage of our big-time receivers,” center Roberto Garza said. “But our game plan starts with the running game, so we have to be able to run the football.”
Garza said the team’s run offense has started slowly in past seasons, then “all of a sudden, it just pops.”
And while the numbers against the Jaguars were impressive, Garza said the ground game — and its star — can do far better.
“You see the games Matt Forte’s had in the past. He broke 100 yards,” Garza said referring to the Jaguars game, “but he’s had a lot better games than that.
“I think both of those guys are getting ready to have some big games.”