FORTE & QUARTEY
As much as we wonder whether Matt Forte's playing his last game with the Bears, Harold Jones-Quartey could give himself the opportunity at being in John Fox's future safety mix. The head coach praised the way the Sept. 6 waiver claim put in the practice work after benching following the first meeting with the Lions, when Calvin Johnson soared over him for the 57-yard reception that set up the game-winning overtime field goal. It capped off a six-catch, 166-yard day for Megatron, who has only 11 receptions for 146 yards the past four games. And after a goal-line interception and a forced fumble last week in Tampa Bay, Jones-Quartey reiterated Friday at Halas Hall he'd looking forward to better things this time around versus Johnson.
Fox has consistent words of praise as well for Forte, one of the members of the leadership committee he meets with on a weekly basis. Forte has 1,135 career rushing yards vs. the Lions, his most against any opponent, with an average of just below 4.4 yards per carry. But only 163 of those yards have come in the last four meetings against Detroit, on 65 carries (a 2.5 average). Contrary to perception, Forte and Jeremy Langford have the exact same number of carries the past five games (65). If Forte and the offensive line can't get unleashed together against the Lions' 19th-ranked run defense, the carries may shift to Langford. There shouldn't be a reason that after churning up 174 yards on the ground last week against a top 10 "D" against the run, they can't do it again, especially behind likely center Matt Slauson and to the right, with Vlad Ducasse and Kyle Long leading the way.
LET'S GET HORIZONTAL
No Alshon Jeffery. No Marquess Wilson. No Martellus Bennett. And don't hold your breath on Eddie Royal and Zach Miller, neither of whom practiced all week. So yes, wide receiver screens will probably still need to be in fashion and Jay Cutler had better be ready to get his timing down with Marc Mariani, Josh Bellamy, Deonte Thompson and Cameron Meredith (hey, wait, how about Rob Housler?!). Downfield shots will be minimal, if not impossible. All the more reason for the big boys to get down and dirty, get a win in the trenches for Forte, Langford, and Ka'Deem Carey, and control the clock to keep it out of the red-hot Matthew Stafford's hands, who's completing a remarkable 82.3 percent of his passes the last two games.
[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]
NO HOMERS FOR THE DOMERS
If the Bears have more guys on defense ready to battle through their "questionable" status than the offense's injury outlook, it'll help. And that's not just against Megatron, but the former Notre Dame teammates who've turned into deadly weapons for Stafford. Golden Tate's 86 receptions are ninth in the NFL, and Theo Riddick's 76 catches out of the backfield leads all running backs this season (a year after Forte set the single-season league record of 102). Then there's T.J. Jones, who, as mentioned in our In-Foe piece earlier this week, has snuck up on opponents in recent weeks.
** Set yourself up, one last time, for Sunday's noon kickoff by joining ex-Bears Dan Jiggetts, Lance Briggs, and Jim Miller with Chris at 11 a.m. on Comcast SportsNet for "Bears Pregame Live, brought to you by Meijer." As soon as the second quarter ends, log on here at CSNChicago.com as Jim and Chris break down the first 30 minutes and go over adjustments on "Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Bears Halftime Live." Finally, as soon as the game goes final, flip back to Comcast SportsNet for the three former Bears and Chris with reaction, analysis, live postgame press conferences and locker room interviews on "Nissan Bears Postgame Live."
The guys will spend a good portion of the Pre- and Postgame shows giving out position grades, discuss personnel decisions with the Bears' own free agents and those available throughout the league, and analyze what this team's accomplished under the new regime over the past year. **