Bears

Forte coming up in trade what-if's

555264.jpg

Forte coming up in trade what-if's

The contract impasse between Matt Forte and the Bears is among the more closely watched personnel stories in the NFL this offseason. Fortes presence or absence projects as a factor in any balance-of-power discussion in the NFC North specifically and the NFC in general.

The team, from President Ted Phillips to GM Phil Emery to coach Lovie Smith, has been consistent that Forte will be in Chicago, period, this season. But some other teams can be forgiven for playing what-if with the unhappy running back.

CSNNE.com colleague Tom Curran and columnist Rich Levine elaborate on a Rotoworld.com assessment that Forte might be a trade prospect for the New England Patriots.

No scenario has been floated by credible Bears sources where that has been a possibility. But it wouldnt be the first time that the Bears and Patriots talked about a deal involving a major running back.

The Pats wanted to trade with the Bears on draft day 1998, giving the Bears the 18th and 22nd picks of the first round in exchange for the Bears at No. 5. The target was running back Curtis Enis.

No deal was concluded (the Jacksonville Jaguars offered more but Jags chief Tom Coughlin so angered Mark Hatley that the Bears hung up the phone and took Enis). And one isnt likely in the Forte case as well.

The problem, as it is right now in Chicago, is money. Forte has not agreed to the Bears long-term offer with guaranteed money in the double-digit millions, and the Patriots not too long ago went through a testy situation with an unhappy player under a franchise tag (guard Logan Mankins). Theyre unlikely to take on another without working out the money, and they are a team that has not invested heavily in running backs in the past.

Besides, if Forte holds out, the Bears wont have their No. 1 back but they signed Michael Bush and would be saving more than 450,000 per Forte-less game.

The Bears did not cave in on Lance Briggs during his franchise-tag contretemps. They will listen to offers everyone does but that should be as far as it goes.

Bears prove defense still matters with masterful shutdown of Rams

bears_beat_rams_.jpg
USA TODAY

Bears prove defense still matters with masterful shutdown of Rams

A day after that 54-51 Rams-Chiefs barnburner on Monday Night Football last month, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was asked if he thought that game was a watershed moment for the pass-happy, offense-oriented NFL.

“I think it’s just we live in such a won-week news cycle in the NFL,” Fangio said, dismissing the thought. “Let’s see what happens next week.”

It wasn’t next week, but three weeks later, Fangio’s group proved great defense can still beat great offense in today’s modern NFL.

The Bears’ defense suffocated Jared Goff, neutralized Todd Gurley, owned the line of scrimmage and powered a 15-6 win over the 11-2 Rams at Soldier Field Sunday night. Goff was picked off four times — by Roquan Smith, Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara — and finished with a passer rating of 19.1, the worst of his career (which includes his horrendous rookie season). Gurley was a non-factor, rushing 11 times for 28 yards while catching only three passes for 30 yards.

An offense that had only scored fewer than 30 points in two games this year was held to two measly field goals and was thoroughly discombobulated by the Bears’ defense all night. Sunday was the first time the Rams' offense failed to score a touchdown in the Sean McVay era.

The standout performances came from every unit. Eddie Goldman’s safety was a major momentum shift at the start of the second half, staking the Bears a two-point lead and giving them the ball back for a drive that led to the only touchdown of the game. Akiem Hicks was a menace, as usual, while Roy Robertson-Harris and Jonathan Bullard both had productive games.

Khalil Mack forced a fumble and combined with Leonard Floyd to make Goff miserable in pockets that consistently collapsed around him. Smith had that interception and was all over the field, while Danny Trevathan was key in limiting Gurley’s production.

And Fuller, Amukamara, Jackson, Adrian Amos and Sherrick McManis — who played the second half with Bryce Callahan injured — made sure the Rams weren’t able to get a spark.

This night was all about the league’s best defense dominating the league’s best offense in front of a national audience in primetime. And it served a warning for the high-octane offenses of the NFC: The Bears are a force to be reckoned with when they play in the playoffs in January.

Because, yes, the Bears are going to the playoffs. They don’t have anything clinched yet, but with nine wins and a lagging pack of wild card contenders (behind the Seahawks and Vikings), there’s not a realistic scenario in which this team doesn’t end its eight-year playoff drought. Also: If the Seahawks beat the Vikings on Monday night, the Bears will be a win or a Vikings loss away from clinching the NFC North.

But this Bears team, on Sunday night, played like a group that isn’t going to settle for just reaching the postseason. This is a group that should have designs on making a legitimate run in January on the back of a side of the ball that’s been frequently left for dead in NFL circles this year.

Maybe, just maybe, defense still matters. And if it matters in the playoffs? The Bears have a shot and doing more than just making it to January.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears and stream the ‘Football Aftershow’ easily on your device.

WATCH: Bradley Sowell scores 2nd Big Guy Touchdown in 2 Weeks

screen_shot_2018-12-09_at_9.30.03_pm.png
NFL on NBC

WATCH: Bradley Sowell scores 2nd Big Guy Touchdown in 2 Weeks

The Bears' red zone offense never ceases to amaze. 

This week? Backup lineman Bradley Sowell gets his number called: 

The misdirection? Genius. The execution? Terrific. The celebration? Sublime. 

Big guy touchdowns!