Bears

Forte unintentionally setting his deal parameters

801174.png

Forte unintentionally setting his deal parameters

Matt Forte said last week that contract talks with the Bears were ongoing, which is a major positive given that the two sides have until July 16 to agree on anything other than the one-year guaranteed 7.74 million of the franchise tag.

He declined to talk specifics of the talks or what hes seeking. But he inadvertently did just that, although not necessarily at the level hes thinking.

The problem for Forte is that as valuable and complete a back as he is, he is simply going uphill. No fault of his, just the reality.

Forte cited the deals LeSean McCoy received from the Philadelphia Eagles (five years, 45 million, 20.7 million guaranteed) and Arien Foster did with the Houston Texans (four years, 41 million, 20.5 million guaranteed).

The Bears have been using those deals as guideposts, but only to a point (they have leverage, the tag and Michael Bush). And while Forte is essentially and justifiably slotting himself in the player ranges of McCoy and Foster, he will have trouble getting the Bears to view him in the same 20 million-guaranteed range.

The reasons are, for the Bears purposes, pretty simple.

McCoy, 23, is three years younger than Forte and has put up 28 rushing touchdowns on 635 carries while averaging about the same number of pass receptions as Forte for his three NFL seasons and averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

McCoy and Foster average a touchdown about every 22.6 carries. Forte averages one every 48.3.

Foster is the same age as Forte but has scored 29 rushing touchdowns in 659 career carries to Fortes 21 on 1,014 carries. Foster has averaged 4.7 yards per carry with less wear than Forte (4.2).

Forte is spot-on in his observation that the running back position may be in a state of being devalued, but that he is not exactly in that narrow mold of just running back. He is very much a part of a passing offense.

I catch the ball coming out of the backfield, Forte said. If you say its a passing game, well, I catch the ball out of the backfield.

As does Foster, even a tad better than Forte. Foster has averaged nearly 60 catches in his two seasons as the Texans franchise back to Fortes 56.

By Fortes suggested standard, the Bears can rightly say that he is deserving of a top contract but not with the 20 million guaranteed money that his suggested peers received.

My sense is that a deal gets done when one or both sides move, meaning that Forte comes off the 20 million number andor the Bears come off their 14-15 million. That means a deal in the range of 17.5 million guaranteed on a package of four or five years.

The length of deal is significant, because it makes Fortes push for his max even more understandable. In all likelihood, this is Fortes one and last big deal. Hell be 30 or 31 when he is in the market for another one, and that is not where people talk guarantees anywhere close to what is on the table now.

NFC North standings: Bears’ division lead on life support after loss to Dolphins

nags.jpg
USA TODAY

NFC North standings: Bears’ division lead on life support after loss to Dolphins

A tie is all that separates the Bears from the rest of the NFC North division. Chicago’s Week 6 loss to the Miami Dolphins dropped the team to 3-2, which just barely leaves them in first place.

Because the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings tied in Week 2, they sit just behind the Bears at 3-2-1 in the division. The Week 5 bye week also kept Chicago a little bit ahead, but they’re only a game away from dropping down to third.

They still control their own destiny, but Matt Nagy will need an upset win over the New England Patriots on Sunday to maintain their leading position. The Packers are on a bye week, so they would assume first place if the Bears lose.

The Vikings take on the New York Jets for a chance to take sole possession of the NFC North crown, but Chicago is guaranteed to stay ahead of the Detroit Lions, who also have a bye week.

These early season losses are tough on a Bears team trying to grow a division lead before they take on their NFC North foes midseason. The bigger cushion they can build now, the more wiggle room they’ll have when they face the Lions, Vikings and Lions back-to-back-to-back in November.

Film review: Albert Wilson's 75-yard TD shows how Sunday was an aberration for the Bears' defense

Film review: Albert Wilson's 75-yard TD shows how Sunday was an aberration for the Bears' defense

(For a bonus film review, check out the video above of Akiem Hicks' forced fumble on the one-yard line)

When Eddie Jackson didn’t stay on top shoulder of Randall Cobb in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ season opener, there was a clear coaching point from that 75-yard backbreaking touchdown. The Bears’ defensive mantra the week after was to focus on “plastering” receivers, which this defense did a good job of over the next three weeks. 

There surely are coaching points leveled by Vic Fangio and his assistants after the Bears were carved up by Brock Osweiler and the Miami Dolphins in Sunday’s 31-28 loss in Miami. But maybe the over-arching though here is this: The Bears didn’t, during the off week, go from being one of the league’s more sure-handed tackling teams to one of the worst. 

A defense that swarmed to the ball over the first four weeks looked a step slow and frequently out of position on Sunday. The more likely explanation for that development isn’t the plot to Space Jam 3, where a group of cartoon aliens steal the athletic power of an entire defense to use for their own. More likely, it was the heat in south Florida that sapped this team’s energy over the course of a long afternoon.

In this week’s film breakdown, we’re going to look at Albert Wilson’s 75-yard touchdown, which was wildly uncharacteristic of this defense. 

Image 1: the Bears are in nickel man coverage with Wilson (red circle) lined up in the slot across from Bryce Callahan. Danny Amendola goes in motion to the boundary (green arrow), with Danny Trevathan (green arrow) following him, though safety Adrian Amos will be the guy covering the Dolphins receiver. Akiem Hicks and Jonathan Bullard are the two down linemen in the interior, with Leonard Floyd rushing from the left and Khalil Mack from the right. 

Image 2: Mack is chipped by tight end Nick O’Leary (yellow circle), with Roquan Smith (yellow arrow) responsible or covering him. Trevathan (green circle) is in space with Amos (blue circle) picking up Amendola. With Mack chipped, the Bears have three pass rushers to go against five offensive linemen. 

Image 3: There’s about 10 yards of space between Mack and Osweiler (yellow arrow) after Mack comes free of O’Leary’s chip. Trevathan (green circle) is in a good position here, with Amos (blue arrow) closing on Amendola. Wilson works into space ahead of Callahan (red arrow), while both Dolphins outside pass-catchers run go routes to clear cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Kevin Toliver II out of the play. 

Image 4: First, the white circle — Hicks had his helmet ripped off, with right tackle Jesse Davis the apparent culprit. He still manages a good pass rush against a double team that could’ve hit home, or forced Osweiler to Mack (who’s about five yards from Osweiler when the ball is released) or Floyd, had the play extended longer. Meanwhile, when the ball is released, Callahan (red arrow) and Trevathan (green arrow) are in good position to bring down Wilson, while Amos (blue arrow) is there for help if Wilson were to turn upfield to the far sideline. 

Image 5: Wilson catches the ball and goes to the far sideline, away from Callahan (red arrow) and toward Trevathan (green arrow). After O’Leary and Smith engaged, the rookie linebacker is the farthest back from the play of these three when the ball is caught. 

Image 6: Trevathan (green arrow) seems to over-commit, giving Wilson a lane toward the boundary to cut upfield. 

Image 7: Amos (blue arrow) still has a chance to bring down Wilson short of the sticks.

Image 8: Amos misses the tackle, and Trevathan is blocked by O’Leary. That leaves Jackson (yellow arrow) as the last guy who can stop Wilson from breaking this play open. 

Image 9: In missing the tackle, Amos tripped Wilson a bit, which Jackson admitted threw him off (“but that’s not an excuse for it,” he added). Wilson re-gains his balance, cuts inside, and Jackson whiffs on the tackle. 

“Probably just try to shoot my shot on the tackle instead of just guessing, just probably should have shot my shot,” Jackson said of what he felt he should’ve done differently. 

Wilson goes to the house, and the Dolphins tie the game one play after the Bears took the lead. The last image here is Wilson’s route chart from NFL Next Gen Stats, which shows just how much running he did after the catch on that play — yardage-wise, it was 71 yards, but by distance it was much further. 

“We talked about how many tackles we missed,” Jackson said. “Some of that could have really changed the momentum of the game if we would have made some of those tackles. Unfortunately, two of them resulted in big play touchdowns.”

No members of the Bears defense were willing to use the heat as an excuse, instead opting for thumb-pointing instead of blaming teammates, coaches or the sun. But there’s a good chance we look back at Week 6 in Week 10 or 11 and can say with some confidence that the Bears beat themselves more than the Dolphins did, and it’s something that hasn’t happened since. 

“We know we made mistakes, that don’t kill our confidence,” Jackson said. “That don’t kill our swagger. We know what we gotta do, we know what we gotta correct. So we come in here, we’re going to play Chicago Bears football that we’re used to playing.”