Matt Forte sounds unhappy being pulled at goal line
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org September 9, 2012 9:36PM
The Bears Matt Forte tries to sidestep the Colts Vontae Davis in the second half of their game at Soldier Field September 9, 2012. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 11, 2012 6:21AM
Bears running back Matt Forte still doesn’t seem happy.
Sure, he has the $32 million contract he spent the last year posturing for. He has proved that an offseason story about him nursing a bad knee was more fiction than fact. He even has a new offensive coordinator in Mike Tice who still believes in three yards and a cloud of dust.
Some guys just can’t be pleased.
Maybe that’s not a bad thing.
After a slow start, Forte finished with 16 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 40 yards. Not a bad first game.
But it was more about what Forte didn’t get: goal-line carries that resulted in Michael Bush scoring two one-yard touchdowns in the Bears’ 41-21 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at Soldier Field.
“It’s been happening my whole career here, so I don’t know,’’ Forte said when asked about not finishing drives. “That’s the coordinator’s call.’’
The one drive that stood out was in the first quarter, when Forte had a 32-yard run to jump-start the offense. Five plays later, he ran 15 yards to the 1-yard line. In came Bush, who ran for no gain on first down before plunging across the goal line on second down.
Forte had eight more touches than Bush, who had 12 carries for 42 yards and no receptions. When asked if he shouldn’t care about his number of carries after receiving a contract extension, Forte said, “I don’t pay attention to the carries, stuff like that. [Running backs coach Tim Spencer] lets us go a couple of series, then he’ll put Mike in there for a little bit. Just to keep us fresh for the third and fourth quarter, so when it comes down to the running game running out the clock, we can be fresh for that.’’
Or frustrated by the time it reaches that point.
But maybe having the two backs battle for carries will serve the Bears better as the season goes on. In this case, competition is a good thing. The days of a single back getting 30-35 carries a game are ending leaguewide. Tice even has said he would like to see Bush and Forte gain 1,000 yards each this season.
Plus, the gap in talent between the two isn’t what it was with other backs behind Forte. Chester Taylor and Marion Barber didn’t have the all-around skills that Bush has.
“Mike can do it all, as well,’’ Forte said. “He can catch the ball on third downs, so there are no limitations when I come out of the game. It’s not like if I come out on third down, he can’t do the same thing.’’
That’s a popular opinion.
“It’s good to have a player like Michael, period, all over the field,’’ coach Lovie Smith said. “That’s why we brought him in here.’’
It won’t be changing anytime soon, either. Whether Forte likes it or not.