Bears

Forte: Somebody doesn't believe I'm an elite RB

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Forte: Somebody doesn't believe I'm an elite RB

Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011Posted: 12:05 p.m. Updated: 5:10 p.m.

By JohnMullin
CSNChicago.com BearsInsider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
Deal or no deal?

Matt Forte has been the core of the Bears offense in the first two weeks of the season. That doesnt mean, however, that he is feeling appreciated.

Forte has thus far turned 2011 into a statement season, accounting for more than half of the team's combined offensive production against the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. Yet the Bears have not yet locked up their feature back. Forte is left with one conclusion.

"Obviously somebody doesn't believe I'm an elite running back," Forte said.

Part of the reason may be that Forte has not flashed so much as a ball carrier as an all-around back. Forte stands just 17th in rushing after two weeks, with 117 total yards and an average of 4.5 yards per carry.

But Forte is No. 2 in the NFL with 324 yards, second only to Carolinas Steve Smiths 334 yards (perhaps no surprise given that Cam Newton has thrown for more than 400 yards in both of his NFL starts). And that should matter as far as Forte is concerned.

"I'd like to get paid off of the production," Forte said. "When you look at the production and what level that's on and you look at some of the guys who are producing and what they get paid, it's not that hard."

Heading into a Week 3 matchup with the rival Packers, Forte believes he just needs to stay the pace.

"I play like I know how to play every weekend, Forte said. That's all I can do."

Ouch

The cost of the New Orleans Saints game will be felt for a while, particularly on an offense that now faces a defense that was No. 2 in the NFL last year in fewest points allowed.

As expected, wide receiver Earl Bennett (chest), tackle Gabe Carimi (knee) and safety Major Wright (head) did not practice Wednesday. Carimi, playing at an elite level according to line coach Mike Tice, will be out an extended period of time, and Bennetts return is unlikely this week, taking one of quarterback Jay Cutlers key receivers out of play as well.

Running back Marion Barber (calf), safety Chris Harris (hamstring), guard Lance Louis (guard) and wide receiver Roy Williams (groin) practiced on a limited basis.

The Green Bay Packers held linebacker Clay Matthews (quad) and safety Charles Woodson (foot) out of practice. Tackle Chad Clifton (knee), cornerback Davon House (ankle), defensive end Ryan Pickett (foot), linebacker Vic Sooto (back) and cornerback Tramon Williams (shoulder) practiced but were limited.

It takes a village

Former offensive coordinator John Shoop once famously said that it takes a village to run the football. He was right, but the reality is that it takes a football village to do just about anything on offense. One minor mistake equals an incomplete pass, sack or run being stuffed because of one missed block.

The Bears were missing both starting offensive linemen (tackle Gabe Carimi, guard Lance Louis) to the right of center last Sunday, which exponentially increases the chance for missteps, mistakes and misses. Indeed, the loss was felt in the running game as well as pass protection simply because Louis and Carimi are bigger, more physical players than replacements Chris Spencer and Frank Omiyale.

No member of the offense will admit to scaling anything back, if in fact anything does get cut out of a game plan or playbook at that point simply because the players capable of executing a particular play are not in place. And for public consumption, nothing is being trimmed going against the Green Bay Packers, either.

You know, we're going to do what we do, quarterback Jay Cutler said. Offensively, the guys, it's not like we're out there busting plays or forgetting stuff. We're just missing one little thing, offensively, like I said last year, this takes 11 guys and if we have one miscue the whole things going to go up in smoke.

No, I don't think we're going to dial anything back.

The Chicago Dangerfields?
Lack of respect has been a theme that has flowed through and around the Bears, whether being picked to finish in the NFC North below a Detroit team that hasnt won more than seven games in a season since 2000, or being an underdog, at home, as they are this week against the Packers.

The Bears thrive on it. Lovie Smith lets them, and the media, know about mistaken or perceived slights. But the key as the Bears see it is to take all with the same even-handedness, because respect is a fickle friend.

I dont know, said wide receiver Roy Williams. We were the greatest thing since sliced bread after Week 1. I said, we're going to hit some bumps in the road, and that'll be the true test of this football team, how we'll bounce back. There's no greater test than the Green Bay Packers, a 2-0 football team.

So if we win this one, then we're back to the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Identity missing?

Last season it took until the off week after the seventh game and a meeting among coaches to clarify some sort of identity for the Bears offense. Coming into training camp and preseason, much was made of how much further along the Bears would be this year, their second under coordinator Mike Martz.

Now, it sounds like the Bears dont really know who they are, and may need nearly as long again this year to figure it out.

I don't think anyone really in the league can pinpoint where they're at, unless you've got a real veteran team, and have been in the same system for a long time, Cutler said.

It's going to take five or six games to see what we have, to see what we're good at, and what we can go out there and execute well.

If some problems, like injuries, shuffling and poor play on the offensive line are not fixed before the fifth or sixth game, the rest of the games may not matter very much.

Cutler pointed out that the Bears were just 1-1 and there's a lot of football remaining.

But, if this continues, then obviously we're going to have a problem and we're going to have to adjust it, Cutler said. But we're looking forward to this next game and those guys are going to bounce back as will I.

Hate the Packers? Hate the Bears? Not these Bears or Packers

If you are looking for people who hate the Green Bay Packers, dont start with the Chicago Bears locker room.

I dont hate em, nose tackle Anthony Adams said, then added with a slight smile, just dont like them very much.

Its kind of like playing the neighborhood bully. Were the neighborhood bully for them just like theyre the neighborhood bully for us.

One of the central figures on the other side feels the same.

Its more something between the fans, said quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has had a texting relationship with Cutler and enjoys seeing the Lance Briggses, Julius Pepperses and Brian Urlachers in the offseason.

I dont think theres a lot of hatred. But theres a lot of competitive guys who really want to win.

Player movement between teams can affect so-called rivalries but venom can still exist. Rogers cited Baltimore-Pittsburgh and even the Vikings and Lions in the NFC North.

I think maybe theres not as much respect as when the Bears and Packers play each other," he said.

Indeed, it may have been hearsay to the zealots, but during training camp this year, Urlacher said exactly what a lot of teammates feel about the Packers collectively and Rodgers personally: This is not a rivalry against the hated Green Bay Packers.

I have a lot of respect for them. A lot, Urlacher told CSNChicago.com. I honestly dont hate the Packers. I want to beat them every time we play them. But theyre a good organization, just like the Bears.

If youre a player coming out of college and the Packers are interested in you, youre excited about that. Theyre great fans, great players, they want to win, they do things the right way. I have nothing but respect for them, their coaches, fans, players. I grew up watching the Packers playing the Cowboys, Favre, Antonio Freeman, all those guys. And how can you hate Aaron Rodgers? Good dude, plays hard, plays the game.

That said, the Bears indeed hate the feeling the Packers left in Soldier Field eight months ago. And watching film this week on the Packers meant being forced to watch a horror film in which they were the foils, the supporting actors.

They lifted the George Halas Trophy in Soldier Field, Adams said, slowly shaking his head. It stings, man, it really stings.

We were a couple plays away from playing in the Super Bowl so of course that hurts. Just watching the film was disheartening. It still hurts a little bit.

Defending the offense

Bears GM Jerry Angelo went on the offensive during training camp when he challenged talent detractors to tell him exactly what players the Bears should have pursued in free agency that they didnt. He didnt get a lot of suggestions.

Now, with his quarterback and offensive line under assault in the wake of six sacks in New Orleans, Angelo went back on the offense when asked about the perception that more could have been done to address the offensive line.

We did everything you could possibly do to that position, Angelo told the teams website ChicagoBears.com on Wednesday. Nobody did more than the Chicago Bears. We drafted a player in the first round. We brought in a player with a lot of experience who is still in his prime. We developed young players who are going into their second and third years, including another high draft choice in Chris Williams. We like our eight linemen...

Everything that happened on Sunday wasnt all because of poor offensive line play. It was a collective failure... So lets not beat up on the offensive line.

Angelo didnt mention offensive coordinator Mike Martz by name but added his voice to the chorus calling for a better game-call than 52 pass plays and 11 runs.

Balance is the key to good offense; thats no secret, Angelo said. When defenses know what youre going or cant do, that gives them a decided advantage.
-- CSN's Jake Flannigan contributed to this story.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Three reasons why the Bears' offense should have success against the Patriots' defense

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Three reasons why the Bears' offense should have success against the Patriots' defense

Every team will try to scheme against what its opponent does best. Not every team does it as well as Bill Belichick consistently has in his Hall of Fame tenure as the coach of the New England Patriots. 
 
This is what Belichick is famous for, beyond the five Super Bowl trophies and historic partnership with Tom Brady. That thing your team’s offense does best? He’s going to take it away. 
 
That can create a mental challenge for an opposing coach during the week. Do you focus on doing something other than what your offense does best because Belichick is going to identify and scheme against it, or do you try to accentuate what you do best so it can’t be taken away? 
 
“That’s that whole chasing the cat’s tail thing,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “All of the sudden you start out-thinking to yourself, ‘What the heck?’ That’s the mystique, and that’s what they do. They’ve earned that over time because of the success they’ve had. 
 
“When you don’t go too crazy with that and balance it and control what you can control. Then in the end, win, lose or draw, no matter what, you at least feel good you approached it the right way, and you weren’t, ‘Oh shoot, I should have done this. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.’”
 
When Taylor Gabriel and the Atlanta Falcons faced the Patriots in Super Bowl LI, everybody on that team knew Belichick would do what he could to take Julio Jones out of the game. But that didn’t make preparations any easier. 
 
“We knew he was going to take away Julio, but we didn’t know how he was going to do it,” Gabriel said. “So it’s just just something you kind of have to adjust to when you get in the game.”
 
Jones only had four catches in that game, and the Falcons were able to quickly adjust to how he was taken away — though it wasn’t enough to keep them from a historic collapse and ultimate overtime loss. 
 
Tight end Dion Sims played New England eight times during his four years with the Miami Dolphins, and came away with a healthy respect for the scheme and the players on that defense. 
 
“They’re fundamentally sound, they got good coaching over there, a good staff,” Sims said. “You gotta be prepared because they come out and they play their ass off.” 
 
But what should give the Bears confidence they can mentally and physically beat New England’s defense?
 
1. The Patriots’ defense isn’t what it once was
 
The way Bears coaches and players have talked about New England’s defense this week has been with reverence and respect. But lately, the Patriots’ defense production hasn’t quite equalled its reputation. 
 
Maybe it started with Nagy’s Kansas City Chiefs launching 42 points and over 500 yards of offense against New England in 2017’s nationally-televised season opener. Maybe Super Bowl LII, in which the Philadelphia Eagles ripped off 41 points with a backup quarterback, was another turning point. Or maybe the Patriots’ 43-40 win over the Chiefs on Sunday night, which looked more like a Big 12 game than an NFL game, further chipped away at that mystique. 
 
New England’s defense heads to Chicago ranked 18th in points allowed (24.7) and has allowed 400 or more yards of offense in four of six games this year. They’re 19th in defensive DVOA, though Pro Football Focus’ grades do peg this group fourth, behind only the Bears, Rams and Eagles. 
 
What this defense does well is take the ball away, with eight interceptions and four fumble recoveries critical in propping up a defense that isn’t good on third down (44 percent conversion rate, 25th) or in the red zone (68 percent, 26th). But as long as the Bears' ball security is better than its two-turnovers-inside-the-five-yard-line showing in Miami on Sunday, an offense that scored 48 and 28 points in its last two games should be in good shape. 
 
2. Multiple weapons
 
How Belichick schemes against a Bears offense that’s been explosive and productive in its last two weeks will be fascinating to see on Sunday. Maybe it’ll be Tarik Cohen, who Belichick said is “a special player that you gotta know where he is at all times.” Maybe it’ll be making sure Taylor Gabriel doesn’t beat them deep (“The execution on that was like 99 out of 100,” Belichick said of Mitch Trubisky’s 54-yard deep ball to Gabriel against Miami). Or maybe it’ll be dropping seven or eight guys into coverage, spying Trubisky and forcing the second-year Bears quarterback to make good decisions and fit passes into tight windows. Or maybe it’ll be something else entirely. 
 
This goes back to the guessing game, though, and it’s one the Bears can’t allow themselves to play. 
 
“I think you can spend too much time on that,” Nagy said. “I look at that and I think I've said it before, it can be kind of like chasing the cat's tail. You've got to be careful of that and when you just start worrying about what you do — and of course here or there you might so something a little bit different — but if you just start doing things different because of one coach, now you've stopped worrying about just controlling what you can control and I haven't found too much success with that.”
 
The good news for the Bears, though, is they seem to have the multitude of weapons necessary to have success against a Belichick defense. Kansas City showed it on Sunday — when the Patriots took away Kelce, Kareem Hunt racked up 185 yards from scrimmage, while Tyreek Hill gouged New England for 142 yards on seven catches with three touchdowns.
 
So if the plan is to take away Cohen, that could lead to opportunities for Gabriel, or vice versa. Or if the plan is to drop seven or eight into coverage, that would give Jordan Howard an opportunity to carve out yards on the ground.  
 
“They utilize all their players, the backs, the tight ends, the receivers, the quarterback, they all have production, so if you take one away, they just go to the next guy, and that’s hard to defend,” Belichick said. “There are a lot of options on some of those plays, which guy is going to end up with the ball based on a quarterback’s decision, if it’s a check-with me type of play, bubbles and look passes and RPOs and things like that, it’s up to the quarterback to make the right decision and Trubisky’s done a good job of that. I think all those things, they keep getting better and they’re hard to defend.”
 
3. History repeating itself
 
In Nagy’s only meeting with New England as Kansas City’s offensive coordinator, his offense scored 42 points — and that’s a number that has resonated in the Bears’ locker room and practice fields this week.  
 
“You have to go into this game with confidence and know that we’re playing against a great group of guys who’ve been there, been to the Super Bowl and then they also have Tom Brady on the other side,” Sims said. “It’s important that we capitalize on everything and try to be mistake-free.” 
 
“What the defense is giving you is what the offense will take — what good offenses will do,” Gabriel said. “I feel like we have those type of minds up there in the booth and on the field with us to figure out what those guys are doing and how we want to attack it.”
 
The Bears’ offense is young, from the coach to offensive coordinator to most of the players that populate it. Beating New England, even if its defense isn’t what it used to be, would send a message around the league that the Bears are for real. Until the Patriots are dethroned in consecutive years, or even finish a season with fewer than, say, 12 wins, they’re still the Patriots.  
 
But while this team is young, it does have a handful of guys who’ve competed against New England on some of the NFL’s biggest stages. So expect guys like Gabriel, Burton and even Nagy to not allow this team to let facing the Patriots become daunting on Sunday. 
 
“It’s not difficult at all,” Gabriel said of avoiding thinking about that mystique. “Just like this team, we have the weapons to take advantage of those one-on-one matchups. I don’t care what defense you are, you’re going to have a one-on-one matchup somewhere unless you’re dropping everybody. So as long as you’re staying the pace and being confident in what you’re doing, I feel like we’ll be okay.” 

Bears return to Soldier Field as home underdogs against the Patriots

Bears return to Soldier Field as home underdogs against the Patriots

The Bears were getting used to life in the big chair. Chicago was favored in each of their last four games, but it all came crashing down at the hands of Brock Osweiler in overtime last week.

The Miami Dolphins pulled off the upset, and now the Bears return home to take on one of the best teams in the league.

Even if they had won in Miami, Chicago likely still would have been underdogs to the New England Patriots on Sunday, but as it stands, Bill Belichick and company are favored by three on most major sportsbooks, according to Vegas Insider.

The line initially opened at Patriots by 2.5, but it would seem that money placed on New England pushed the spread a little more in the Bears’ favor.

Vegas is expecting another higher-scoring game for both teams, with the over/under sitting at 49. Given that the Patriots have scored at least 38 points in each of their last three games, the Bears’ defense may have some trouble keeping this game low on the scoreboard.

In Week 6, home underdogs went 4-1 against the spread and 3-2 straight up. According to Bet America, home underdogs have covered in 20 of their 30 games this season, which bodes well for a Bears team facing a tough task at Soldier Field.