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Sun Times: Matt Forte Is More “Gimmick Than Go-To”

Obviously Chicago Bears’ running back Matt Forte is still dangling under the infamous franchise tag with no long term deal worked out yet. In the meantime, the team has signed RB Michael Bush from the Raiders leaving Forte justifiably feeling disrespected. Well, justifiably to some…not Joe Cowley from the Sun Times who may have written one of the most ridiculous things I’ve read this off season.

He argues that Forte should basically chill out since he isn’t all that anyway:

But here’s a little reminder to Forte. He wants to be treated like an elite back, but he’s more gimmick than go-to. In two of his four seasons, he wasn’t even a 1,000-yard back. He has averaged just over seven touchdowns a season, and that includes all the dump passes and screens he has gotten over the years.

When you think grind it out at the end of a game, you don’t exactly think Forte.

He’s no Adrian Peterson; he’s not even Chris Johnson.

He’s a versatile back who has taken advantage of an offense lacking a real receiver that has had to turn to him out of the backfield.

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I’m not going to argue as to whether Forte is elite or not. Quite frankly, I don’t give a crap. If a guy is 50% of your offense and can consistently make plays game after game whether or not he’s elite doesn’t matter much. It doesn’t matter if Forte would suck on some different hypothetical team or whether you can specifically turn to him at the end of a game as Cowley bemoans the Bears allegedly can’t (not so sure that’s true!). What matters is that he functions high in THIS system and is a steady asset on THIS team. Elite may matter when it comes to determining value but it’s still critical to look at fit.

As others have pointed out the Bears have had other backs share carries with Forte over the years.  Cowley’s argument actually works in reverse–Forte hasn’t always had 1000 yard seasons but he’s come dangerously close and produced a lot for someone who hasn’t really been the only game in town. Not that Forte’s stats are anything to laugh at. He was above 900 yards last year (despite missing the last 4 games) and in 2009. He had over 1000 in 2010 and over 1200 in 2008. But Cowley says Forte is a “gimmick.”


Final note: Cowley says Forte is “a versatile back who has taken advantage of an offense lacking a real receiver that has had to turn to him out of the backfield.”  I found this to be an odd statement. It implies that getting the ball a lot is an automatic gurantee of results. Just because a team turns to you doesn’t mean you will produce. And, when teams know that you have no elite receiver, they tend to target your back even more making it even more difficult to get carries. Ray Lewis made this point when asked about the Ravens strategy against the Titans–study Chris Johnson only.

Anyway, I’m not a fan of what Cowley wrote. I thought it was flawed, poorly executed, and largely  irrelevant. But it seems that Bears management shares this line of thinking so Godspeed to Forte trying to work out a deal with this bunch. I mean this is the same team that lost their QB during the NFC chip, subjected my eyes to Todd Collins and still refused to do better than Caleb Hanie as backup the next year.

The signing of Bush was clearly a signal that the Bears aren’t invested in Forte and that’s why the franchise tag, when abused like this, gives me the creeps. If Forte wants more than the Bears think he deserves and they’re already making moves to decrease Forte’s importance then Forte should be testing the market and finding out his realistic value not waiting for the Bears to make sense. I’d love for Chicago media to comment on how much Forte wants vs. how much he deserves rather than wasting space insulting a guy who has consistently produced.


Update: Cowley didn’t like what I wrote. To be fair, I did erroneously cite his name as Jeff Crowley. But, personally, if I were him I would have let Jeff take take the credit (blame?) for that post he wrote.

Sports writers are sensitive, no? And they have the nerve to talk about athletes.


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