Matt Forte excited about Bears’ offensive-line upgrades
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org April 14, 2013 9:40PM
Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) breaks away on a long run in the 1st quarter on Monday, October 22, 2012 in at Soldier Field. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 15, 2013 11:36AM
While on Twitter in the offseason, running back Matt Forte learned something about himself.
With 840 more rushing yards, Forte will pass Neal Anderson (6,166 yards) and move into second place in team history.
“It surprised me,” Forte said. “I was like, ‘That is close.’ God willing, I can get that next year and even beyond 840.”
No. 1, of course, is Hall of Famer Walter Payton with 16,726 rushing yards.
“We know Walter is and was one of the best to ever play the game,” Forte said. “So that’s more motivation for me every day in the offseason to train hard and chase greatness.”
Forte was among the most vocal supporters of Lovie Smith immediately after the 2012 season. But on Saturday, he excitedly addressed the offseason additions, new coach Marc Trestman, his role in the offense and the team’s aspirations.
“We still love Lovie,’’ Forte said, ‘‘and we miss him. But there’s nothing we can do about that. When someone comes in, you have to be receptive to him. He’s not going anywhere, and hopefully I’m not going anywhere.
“Everyone’s goal is to win the championship.”
A year ago, Forte wasn’t sure of his own future after the Bears put the franchise tag on him, then signed veteran Michael Bush to a four-year contract. Despite public comments from team officials, Forte didn’t fully grasp his standing until he signed a four-year deal worth approximately $32 million hours before a deadline last July.
“It’s comfortable, instead of not knowing and having so much uncertainty,” Forte said. “I know I’m going to be here, training with my teammates, and I know that my family is taken care of. And when you’re comfortable like that, you have no problem giving it your all for your team.”
Forte had 1,094 rushing yards last season but ended up with a career-low 44 catches for 340 yards. The receiving numbers surprised Forte, one of the NFL’s best receivers out of the backfield.
“I figured I’d get more screen passes because of the deep threat with Brandon [Marshall] and Alshon [Jeffery],’’ Forte said. ‘‘But I don’t know. It just wasn’t called.
“When you get in the game, sometimes you get flustered, and things get thrown out the window. But it’s a difficult thing to call plays and call the correct plays.”
Forte praised the 2012 defense but insisted the offense was “just average” and “one-dimensional.” He’s confident, though, because of the new coaches, including offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, as well as new players such as left tackle Jermon Bushrod and guard Matt Slauson.
Forte said he and quarterback Jay Cutler are particularly impressed with the offensive line.
“[Cutler] likes the concepts, and he’s excited because of all the new additions,” Forte said. “It’s hard to throw when people are in your face. It makes my job and his job easier if the big guys up front are doing their jobs. So he’s as excited as I am.”
Forte likes that Bushrod and Slauson are proven players.
“The last couple of years — actually ever since I’ve been here — we’ve had guys with a low number of starts, and they get thrown in there,” Forte said. “But this offensive line will have a lot of game experience under them.”
At the owners meetings last month, Trestman was complimentary of Forte, emphasizing his command of all the requisite skills for a running back.
Marshall, for one, thinks Forte will sparkle in Trestman’s offense.
“He’s a horse, and he’s going to carry this team,” Marshall said. “That’s our guy.”