When the NFL Network aired the first of ten episodes of The Top 100 Players of 2014, I was highly surprised to see Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte ranked at No. 91. As astonished as I was, Forte was even more shocked and even upset about his low ranking.
Forte has every right to be angry at his place on this list. According to the show, there are nine running backs among this group, and based off of the votes of his peers, he is the ninth-best ball carrier in the NFL. It appears to me that the players who have the chance of seeing Forte up close and personal on the field don’t have a full understanding of what he does with the ball in his hands, and it seems Forte feels the same way.
“I guess this has nothing to do with stats,” said Forte. “This list is not a list of stats. I guess it’s more popularity, maybe?”
Looking at Forte’s statistics from 2013, the numbers indicate that he is better than ninth among running backs. Forte finished the year second in rushing (1,339), third among running backs with 74 receptions, third in total yards from scrimmage (1,933) and fourth in yards per carry (4.6).
In a sense, I do understand why Forte is lost in the shadows of other running backs. Last season, the main focus on Chicago’s offense was the play of quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Josh McCown. Cutler was playing pretty well until getting injured. Then McCown stepped in and kept the team afloat with his 13-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Though McCown does deserve credit for what he did, during the span that Cutler was sidelined, the Bears’ offense wouldn’t have been as successful without Forte.
In the five games that McCown started at quarterback, Forte averaged over 100 rushing yards and nearly 50 receiving yards per game. It’s the all-around play of Forte that made it possible for wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to combine for 2,716 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns.
Although everyone else seems to get all of the shine on Chicago’s offense, Forte is hands down their best player and MVP.
Knowing that there are eight more running backs ahead of Forte, I’ll guess that Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore and Jamaal Charles, are definitely on the list. As for the other three ranked in front of Forte, I surely don’t think that they are better. I’m sure this will give Forte a great deal of motivation for the 2014 season.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.