While there will be less emphasis on the running game this year, I do feel that Forte is in position to have another outstanding season. Despite the additions of Michael Bush and Brandon Marshall, the running game should be even better this season even if Forte represents less of the total offense.
Over the past couple of seasons, Forte has accounted for more than 50 percent of the Bears offense. But now that they have other offensive options, that percentage should go down considerably.
But that doesn't have to result in Forte having a poor season. In fact, here are seven reasons why he will be just as good in 2012.
One reason why I feel that Forte will have another solid season this year is that the threat of the passing game will open up the running lanes.
I know that this slide title may seem out of whack to some of you, since the usual saying is how the run sets up the pass. That has been true in the past. But I believe that in the Bears' case this season, having more offensive tools at Cutler's disposal will only enhance the running game.
Sure, Forte won't get as many opportunities as last year but that's not because he isn't as good of a runner. No, I believe he will be every bit as effective as he was following the injury.
But it's a fact that Cutler will throw the ball more, and with Michael Bush, Forte will have competition for the amount of plays that are available.
Having said that, I think the holes will be even bigger when he does decide to run because the threat of the improved passing game, with Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and the use of the tight ends will make the defensive line back off and open up running space for Forte.
Less opportunities, maybe. But they will be better quality opportunities.
Another reason that I think Forte will be just as effective this season is that, for all of the talk about the passing game and the addition of Bush, we must remember that Forte is still the Bears' No. 1 rushing back. That means he will get the bulk of the run chances.
Perhaps the Bears run less often. However, when they do run the ball, it will usually be Forte carrying the load.
"Pay the Man" or not, Forte will once again "Be the Man."
For even more supporting evidence of how Forte will be just as good in 2012 as he was in 2011 is the fact that, from what we know about Forte, he is a very hard worker who has taken his rehab seriously and seems to be a quick healer.
It helps that he is relatively young and strong. His workouts are already legendary.
Check out this clip and tell me who it reminds you of. If you've been a Bears fan for as long as I have, a certain Hall of Famer who went by the nickname of "Sweetness" may come to mind.
Meanwhile, Forte seems fully recovered from his injury. According to this report from The Sporting News, Forte used a hyberbaric chamber to speed recovery.
If Forte doesn't come to an agreement with the Bears on a contract extension, he will be playing for next year's contract. That, in effect, should supply ample motivation for him to run hard and put up good numbers so he can get paid in 2013 what he thinks he's worth.
I doubt that the Bears would apply the franchise tag a second time, as that would just create even more bad blood between the team and its embattled running back. So, essentially, Forte stands to be a free agent after the season.
Forte has much to prove. He needs to show he is fully recovered from his injury, first and foremost. Then he has to show that he is among the top backs in the league.
Another reason that I believe Forte will have a great season even if the Bears offense will be more spread around is that a good offense will keep the defense off the field more, allowing it to perform better without additional fatigue caused by all of the "three-and-outs" that we saw last season.
With the Bears having extended drives due to an improved offense, the defense will be more rested once it does come back on the field. That way, the defense should be able to get more turnovers, allowing more opportunities for the offense.
And more offensive opportunities means more drives where Forte can run the ball. So, even if Forte is used less often as a total percentage of the overall offense, he may still get as many carries when all is said and done.
A further reason to support the notion that Forte will have another good season is that, for all of the talk of the passing game, the offensive line is still better suited for run blocking and pass blocking.
Let's face it, the offensive line is the weakest point of the Bears team. So, on the one hand, that could spell trouble for the running game. However, as bad as the line may be, it is much better blocking for the run than the pass.
Last season, prior to his injury, Chris Williams was very good at pulling to open up gaps for Forte and other backs to run through. Plus, with the run game going, the left tackle position doesn't have to be exposed as much.
Even J'Marcus Webb, who struggled as much as anyone in the league against the pass last year, did a decent job when the Bears ran the ball.
With Mike Tice calling the plays, expect him to know that the strength of the line is run blocking, given that Tice was the offensive line coach in 2011. And that knowledge could translate into more running chances for Forte.
One final reason to believe that Forte will have a good year is that even I recognize that the Bears' passing game, while improved, will suffer during the bad weather months that the Bears will play in. In fact, the Solder Field turf is lousy and that, combined with ice, sleet, rain and snow, will test even a strong-armed QB like Cutler.
And that doesn't even include mention of that Chicago wind!
So, recognizing all that, the Bears may have games in which they will be forced to call more running plays despite the presence of a No. 1 wideout.