While pundits everywhere are busy arguing over whether or not the Chicago Bears have the best wide receiver duo in the NFL, the best running back tandem in the game in quietly taking shape in Chicago.
Starting back Matt Forte is fresh off the best season of his career in 2013, and fourth-round draft pick Ka’Deem Carey is beginning to turn heads throughout the organization as he learns the offense. When the Bears kickoff the season in a few short weeks, their running game might well be the best in the NFL, if Carey can soak up the playbook quickly.
Over the past few seasons, the Bears have had their share of No. 2 running backs who were nearing the tail end of their career, and were far more ineffective than the team had hoped they would be when they were signed. Now, after drafting Carey, the Bears find themselves with one elite running back in the midst of his prime, and a young budding star who is hungry to prove himself in this league.
This is a nice change of pace from the recent run of backups who were mostly content just collecting a few extra paychecks as they readied themselves for retirement.
Of course, Forte will remain the featured back, toting most of the weight, though having Carey ready to come in and provide that burst of fresh legs late in the game will be immensely important as the team readies itself for a playoff run. Carey racked up over 3,800 rushing yards in his final two seasons at Arizona, and was also able to haul in 62 receptions over that same span. This is key for Carey because in the Bears’ offensive system, having a running back who can catch the ball out of the back-field is a must.
Carey should have no problem surpassing the 197 rushing yards accumulated by 2013 backup running back Michael Bush, which will take some of the pressure off Forte’s shoulders.
In a pass-happy league, a great run game can enhance the effectiveness of play action, which in turn leads to more success throwing the ball. The Bears find themselves in a unique situation heading into 2014, as they have both a great running game and a first rate passing game.
Teams will not be able to load the box to stop the run game if they also have to respect the ability of Pro Bowl wideouts Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. This will lead to the rare instance in which the team’s passing game could open up opportunities in the run game for Forte and Carey.
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