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Mad Matt Forte isn’t an elite back

Bears running back Matt Forte.  |  M. Spencer Green~AP

Bears running back Matt Forte. | M. Spencer Green~AP

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Updated: April 24, 2012 8:22AM



Give Matt Forte credit.

He didn’t even need 140 Twitter characters to let new general manager Phil Emery know that he’s playing a game of chicken with the chemistry of the 2012 Bears.

Forte used 139, at least in his first tweet Thursday after the Bears announced they had given running back Michael Bush a four-year contract worth $14 million, including $7 million guaranteed.

“There’s only so many times a man that has done everything he’s been asked to do can be disrespected!” Forte wrote on his verified Twitter account. “Guess the GOOD GUYS do finish last….’’

That’s an all-caps GOOD GUYS directed at you, Phil.

Forte wasn’t done, either.

“For the record I’m not mad at the signing of another running back,’’ Forte tweeted later. “This is 4th time that’s happened. I embrace competition as well as help … But as for not taking care of [your] own and undervaluing a player under his market value is another story!’’

A story that won’t be going away any time soon.

If Emery has shown one thing since taking over, it’s that he’s not boring. He might resemble a mortician, but he’s doing all he can to breathe life into a team that missed the playoffs because of its lack of depth.

There will be no more Caleb Hanies to hate on thanks to Emery signing veteran quarterback Jason Campbell to back up Jay Cutler.

The big knock on former GM Jerry Angelo was his inability to bring in an elite wide receiver for Cutler, but Emery addressed that last week, landing Brandon Marshall from the Dolphins for two third-round picks. The long-term risk? A suspension for Marshall coming from the commish.

The players have said all the right things in welcoming Marshall into the mix, but that’s because the perception is that this is a clean slate for the troubled receiver. If that slate starts to get mucked up with more reports of domestic disputes or disturbances in clubs, Emery’s first big acquisition could be more headache than big splash.

As if the Bears’ soap opera needed any more story lines, enter the Bush signing and Forte’s reaction to an organization he thinks continues to disrespect him.

“Just Keeping it real ... hate it or love it,’’ Forte tweeted later in the day.

It’s easy to see why the do-everything running back feels that way, especially considering he has made $3.7 million since his rookie year and is set to make $7.74 million this season with the franchise tag.

But here’s a little reminder to Forte. He wants to be treated like an elite back, but he’s more gimmick than go-to. In two of his four seasons, he wasn’t even a 1,000-yard back. He has averaged just over seven touchdowns a season, and that includes all the dump passes and screens he has gotten over the years.

When you think grind it out at the end of a game, you don’t exactly think Forte.

He’s no Adrian Peterson; he’s not even Chris Johnson.

He’s a versatile back who has taken advantage of an offense lacking a real receiver that has had to turn to him out of the backfield.

Now the Bears have a real receiver. And to Emery’s credit, they also have a real backup running back in Bush, a back they could’ve used last season when Forte couldn’t finish.

This isn’t a shut-up-and-play moment for Forte. It’s more of a shut-up-and-prove-you-deserve-elite-running-back-money moment.

Not loving it or hating it, Matt. Just keeping it real.



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