Matt Forte on Bears’ running game: It’ll come
By MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org August 23, 2011 9:56PM
Running back Marion Barber gained 49 yards on 13 carries Monday night against the Giants. | Julio Cortez~AP
Updated: November 3, 2011 6:16PM
Like just about everything else with the Bears in the aftermath of the 41-13 loss Monday night to the New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium, the running game is a work in progress.
The Bears rushed for 81 yards on 26 carries (3.1 yards per carry). Matt Forte, getting his first carries of the preseason, gained seven yards on four carries. Marion Barber gained 49 yards on 13 carries (3.8 yards per carry) but was stopped twice on goal-line plays — third-and-goal from the 2 and fourth-and-goal from the 1 — in the third quarter.
But Forte is confident that won’t be a problem for long.
‘‘It’ll come,’’ Forte said. ‘‘We started slowly last year, too. We’ve got a lot of work to do up front and a lot of stuff to figure out. We’re getting better as a team right now.’’
In 2010, Forte averaged 2.7 yards per carry in the first four regular-season games (50 carries, 134 yards) and five yards per carry in the last 12 (187 carries, 935 yards).
Quarterback Jay Cutler said the Bears were more concerned with developing the passing game than the running game against the Giants. The Bears had 21 passes and eight rushes with the first-team offense in the first half.
‘‘We didn’t really give Matt an opportunity,’’ said Cutler, who was 12-for-21 for 171 yards and an 83.6 passer rating. ‘‘I think we wanted to see how we could hold up passing. We know those guys can block really well. We wanted to give them a chance to pass-protect, get some seven steps, try to get a rhythm going. I think we made strides in that area.’’
It took a little improvisation by Forte, but the Bears ran an effective screen play against the Giants. Forte took a short pass from Cutler and cut across the field for most of a 42-yard gain. Kahlil Bell had gains of 27 and 19 yards on screen plays, albeit in the second half, against the Bills in the preseason opener.
Outside of Forte’s 89-yard touchdown in the season opener against the Lions, the Bears’ longest pass play to a running back last season was 30 yards.
‘‘It was just a reaction,’’ Forte said of the cross-field move. ‘‘Screen plays are designed to go certain places, but there’s no telling where it can go. We had a lot of good blocks by the receivers downfield and O-linemen.’’
Through two preseason games, the Bears have one takeaway — an interception by undrafted free-agent cornerback Mike Holmes in the second half against the Bills.
One small step
The defensive line didn’t make much of an impact against the Giants, but tackle Amobi Okoye still saw progress. The Giants gained 157 yards on 33 plays (4.8 per play) in the first half.
‘‘Our communication got better, and that’s what you want to do,’’ Okoye said. ‘‘Practice is practice. But game-time situations, with the adrenaline pumping, you want to be more fluid. I think we took another step in getting our communications and disguises better.’’