Continuing on with the Chicago Bears end of the year evaluation series, we take a look at the running back position that failed to live up to the expectations put on them before the season.
Matt Forte: Forte finished the season rushing for 1094 yards off 248 carries, and five rushing touchdowns. The veteran RB also average 4.4 yards per carry in a year where offensive coordinator Mike Tice ran a scheme that didn’t utilize Forte strengths. Forte strength as a runner is attacking the outsides; rather it’s on RB counters, stretch plays, and power O’s, Forte has the ability to get to the outside and take it to the house. Forte receiving numbers dipped this season, but he still racked up 1434 total yards.
A lot of reasons why Forte regressed this season as a football player with some of the blame going on himself. Most of the blame however goes to Tice utilization of the once pro bowl RB and the fact an ankle injury hampered Forte all season.
2013 Outlook: One of the main points general manager Phil Emery highlighted in his press conference this past Tuesday was getting Forte more involved in the passing attack. The screen game was obviously missing this year from the offense and that was an aspect Forte shined best in the past few seasons. The next offensive mind rather it’s Mike McCoy, Bruce Arians, or Mike Sullivan, should be able to get the best out of Forte in 2013. Forte is too good of a talent to allow another average season.
2012 Grade: B+
Michael Bush: Bush had a good season if you’re looking at it from a back-up RB perspective. Bush was mainly used in short yardage situation, so the 3.6 yards per rush looks pretty solid when looked at in that light. Bush was put on injured reserve with a rib injury after week 15, but Bush showed fans this season that he’s a solid compliment to Forte.
2013 Outlook: Bush future is up in the air with Chicago. While Bush in my opinion performed well this season for what his role consist of, I doubt that Emery want to invest so much into the RB position moving forward. He can certainly look for a much cheaper option late in the draft or find someone else on the roster to take Bush place. Look for the Bears to shop Bush in the off-season.
2012 Grade: B-
Armando Allen: Allen was called up from the practice squad when Lorenzo Booker was put on injured reserve with a head injury. He finished the season rushing for 124 yards off 27 carries and one touchdown.
2013 Outlook: Allen will have to fight for a roster spot in the off-season, but he’s a good change of pace back to have as your third RB on the roster.
2012 Grade: C
Khalil Bell: Bell was cut twice during the season and saw action in the team’s final two games of the season.
2013 Outlook: Considering the Bears will have a whole new offensive coaching staff, that doesn’t help Bell case to stick on with the team.
2012 Grade: D
Harvey Unga: Unga spent most of the season on the practice squad and was called up for the final game of the season.
2013 Outlook: Don’t know if the Bears still view Unga as a RB anymore, and they already have their fullback of the future on the roster in Evan Rodriguez. Unga likely won’t be on the roster after this season.
2012 Grade: INC