Bears

Matt Forte or Marshall Faulk? You make the call

351198.jpg

Matt Forte or Marshall Faulk? You make the call

Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010
9:45 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Outrageous.

That is how offensive coordinator Mike Martz described running back Matt Forte Wednesday. Coming from Martz, who coached outrageous in St. Louis when he had Marshall Faulk, that is seriously high praise even from someone who is given to effusive compliments.

Matt is just outrageous the way hes playing, Martz said. Hes been fantastic. I knew he was really a good player but right now hes been pretty special.

And it may not be too long before the comparisons start between Forte and Faulk, a Hall of Fame running back who was one of the most accomplished all-around backs of his or any era.

With a game to play, Forte has totaled more rushing yards (3,145) than Faulk did in his first three seasons (2,947). He has 163 pass receptions vs. Faulks 164. Faulk was producing his numbers in Indianapolis and didn't become a Martz project until his sixth NFL season (1999), at which time his numbers jumped dramatically in an offense with a spectrum of Pro Bowl players in every position group.

Can he be as good as Marshall Faulk? reflected coach Lovie Smith, who was on the St. Louis staff during Faulks prime. Smith hedged but didnt dismiss that possibility in any way. Aww, I mean, thats a little early. I just think right now we wouldnt trade Matt Forte for many guys. Hes not on that all-Pro team, but what running back has played better football than him as of late?

Smith sees the Faulk-Forte similarities:

To Smith, Forte is a complete running back. He is an every down back. He can run with power. He can make tacklers miss in the open field. He is an effective receiver out of the backfield or split out. He is a strong pass protector.

Of course, Marshall Faulk is a Hall of Famer, Smith said. Of course, he did all that as well as anyone. Matt can do all those things also.

The matchups with him when he is moved outside as a receiver, as happened against the New York Jets and Forte responded with a 24-yard pass reception against a linebacker, you cant get the ball out there to him fast enough, Martz said. I think people when they watch him on film, know hes fast, but when you see him in person run, he has unusual speed and hes a big guy. I think that does surprise people, particularly when he comes out of the backfield. His kind of speed does shock some of those linebackers.
Classy

Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, who was a bust in San Francisco, Washington and Chicago but now is going to the Pro Bowl as a Denver Bronco, trashed his former teams with a terse Fk you to those teams, and I mean that in a most professional way.

Lloyd never had more than 48 catches in a season while a 49er, refused to play as a Bear unless he was 100 percent and wound up with 26 catches, and hes criticizing teams for not getting the most out of his talent. Perfect. A man for the millennium.

Sick bay

Receiver Earl Bennett (ankle), center Olin Kreutz (rest) and linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee) were held out of practice Wednesday but expected to be more than ready for Sunday in Green Bay.

The Packers were not nearly, looking every bit like the typical NFL team going into game 16. Defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf), guard Marshall Newhouse (back) and linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) were unable to practice at all and safety Atari Bigby (groin) and fullback Korey Hall (knee).

Green Bay Pro Bowlers Chad Clifton (tackle, knees), Nick Collins (safety, ribs) and Clay Matthews (linebacker, shin) were limited in practice, as were cornerback Sam Shields (knees) and center Scott Wells (back).

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.

Bears show interest in Tulsa pass rusher Trevis Gipson

Bears show interest in Tulsa pass rusher Trevis Gipson

It's early (extremely early) in the 2020 NFL Draft process, and the Bears' team needs between now and when their first pick (No. 43 overall) is on the clock are certain to change. The general consensus right now is that offensive line, tight end and quarterback will be early draft targets, but edge rusher can't be overlooked.

Leonard Floyd's failure to emerge as the pass rusher the Bears need to complement Khalil Mack is a bigger problem than GM Ryan Pace or coach Matt Nagy want to admit. In fact, Floyd's ineffective style of play could cost Chicago a chance at becoming a truly elite defense and potentially limit the astronomical upside Mack has as a generational talent.

If the Bears decide to pull the fifth-year option from Floyd, they'll have no choice but to attack the position early in the 2020 draft. It appears like they're doing their homework for that scenario, too.

Bears scouts met with Tulsa edge rusher Trevis Gipson at length following Wednesday's Senior Bowl practice, an indication that the position is at least high enough on their wish list that extensive homework on pass rushers is being done.

Gipson helped his draft stock at the Senior Bowl and was an early winner among edge rushers at the game. His practice reps confirmed his tape; the dude knows how to get to the quarterback. He had eight sacks in 2019 and plays with a high-energy style that's certain to entice Chicago's coaching staff. He isn't an elite athlete, but he has an appealing frame (34-inch arms) and powerful hands.

Gipson began the week as a late-Day-3 prospect. He helped his stock and may have jumped a round or two along the way.

Bears' rookie class ranked 8th-best in NFL

Bears' rookie class ranked 8th-best in NFL

The Bears didn't have much of a rookie class in 2019. Last April's draft produced just five picks, two of which didn't appear in a regular-season game for the Bears.

But the production of running back David Montgomery was enough to carry the rookie class to a top-10 ranking, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Bears checked-in at eighth.

The Bears have a strange class. They had only five picks, none before Round 3, with three of those five selections coming after Round 6. As a result, their expected return was low. Running back David Montgomery was really the only Bears' rookie to play significant snaps, and he managed to provide enough return from his third-round selection to land them at No. 8.

It's pretty remarkable that Chicago's 2019 rookie class — essentially, Montgomery — garnered this much respect from PFF. Wide receiver Riley Ridley showed signs of life late in the season and cornerback Duke Shelley will be given an opportunity to carve out a role on defense next season, but with running back Kerrith Whyte, Jr. and cornerback Stephen Denmark making no impact whatsoever (Whyte is no longer with the team), the 2019 class won't be remembered as one that laid a championship foundation in Chicago.

Sure, Montgomery has a chance to become one of the NFL's more talented starting running backs (he ended his rookie season with 889 yards and six touchdowns), but if Ridley and Shelley don't turn into legitimate contributors in 2020 or 2021, the class will go down as an epic failure for GM Ryan Pace.

Remember: The Bears didn't have a first-round pick because of the trade for outside linebacker Khalil Mack. That's a win for Pace, but it doesn't change the fact that he had five selections at his disposal and ended up with what appears to be just one impact player after their rookie seasons.