The Bears made a reasonably sound fiscal and personnel move when they made official their intention of moving on without Matt Forte as one of the running backs. They have replacements — Jeremy Langford, Ka’Deem Carey — in place by virtue of fourth-round picks in the past two drafts.
But replacing Forte has been hugely problematic virtually since his arrival to Chicago as the Bears’ second-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Put another way: The Bears haven’t been able to find even an adequate backup for him, and now they are completely replacing him?
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Then-GM Jerry Angelo made annual forays into free agency for what appeared, at the time of each, to be sound veteran additions. None of them worked out, sometimes downright disastrous:
Kevin Jones (2008) - $605,000 for 3.2 ypc., $3 million for 2009, injured in preseason and never played again.
Kahlil Bell (2009) - One 72-yd run, 3.8 ypc. on other 39 carries.
Chester Taylor (2010) - $7 million guaranteed, 2.4 ypc. in one season with the Bears.
Marion Barber (2011) - $5 million for two years and epic bonehead plays in Denver.
Michael Bush (2012-13) - $14 million for four years, gone after two with 3.4 ypc.
Ka’Deem Carey (2014) - Near-cut in 2015 training camp, 36 rookie carries, DNP last two games of rookie season.
Jeremy Langford (2015) - 100-plus combined yards in two games, but 3.6 ypc. for season on 148 carries.
The Bears hold three picks in the sixth round of this year’s draft and will at some point be looking for a running back with strong upside on special teams, which was part of the rationale behind drafting Langford.
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The Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50 with a backfield assembled by John Fox from his time as head coach. The Broncos divided carries between undrafted C.J. Anderson (4.7 ypc.) and third-rounder Ronnie Hillman (4.2). Carey and Langford fit the Fox template, but neither has shown what Anderson and Hillman produced this season.
Or Forte in any of his eight Bears seasons.