Matt Forte wasn’t a household name when he was selected in the second round (44th overall) by the Chicago Bears in the 2008 NFL Draft. With 1,238 and eight touchdowns on the ground, Forte quickly made a name for himself in his rookie season. Those numbers have not been duplicated since.
Forte was well on his way to besting that total last season before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in week 12, finishing with 997 yards on the ground. Last season also marked the fourth and final season of his rookie contract. Forte made it no secret he wanted to be inked to a long-term deal. The Bears finally caved just before the start of training camp this year and gave Forte a 4-year $32 Million deal. But was it a wise move?
The 2011 pro-bowl back has played in eight games this season, missing one game due to an ankle injury. Forte has rushed for a meager 578 yards this season and three touchdowns. Before this season Forte has been the main cog in the Bears offense.
Insert the addition of Brandon Marshall and times have now changed in Chicago. Head coach Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Tice can say this team is still about running the football, but the numbers don’t lie. Marshall is the first option in the option, and actually has proven to be the best option.
Marshall is on pace to re-write the Bears receiving record books, where Forte… well. he is having an average season.
Maybe with the new contract Forte just isn’t as hungry as season’s past. Maybe Forte feels somewhat abandoned with a new “Marshall” in town. Maybe defenses finally have the blueprint on how to contain Forte. Maybe this or maybe that, bottom line is this offense is Brandon Marshall’s and Forte is in more of a Robin role instead of being Batman.
Although the Bears will not admit it, I strongly believe if the team had a crystal ball in the off-season, the Bears would have slapped the franchise tag on Forte and rolled the dice.
TRAVIS DAVID is a contributor for FOOTBALL NATION and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @tdavid_21.