It looks like Matt Forte will be signed and in uniform by the time the regular season starts. At the end of June, he indicated that he would be there for the regular season.
The latest news is that he could be signed before the weekend is out (Pro Football Talk). So assuming it gets done before the season start, the next question becomes: How will Chicago use both Forte and newly acquired running back Michael Bush?
All Forte All the Time?
Despite only playing in 12 games last season, Forte finished the year with over 200 rushing attempts and over 50 receptions. With 255 total touches, Forte is light years ahead of the next closest guy, Marion Barber, who had just 119.
Barber had 114 carries, and the next closest receiver to Forte was Johnny Knox and Roy Williams—both tied with 37 receptions. In 2010, Forte had 288 touches compared with Chester Taylor 132 (112 carries) and Johnny Knox with 51 receptions.
Given that he was such a big part of their offense for the last two seasons, you can see why Forte wanted to get paid.
With the new passing offense that Chicago is installing this season, you might tend to think that Forte's numbers will drop a bit. However, that probably isn't going to be the case. While the downfield passing numbers will certainly increase because of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, the Bears will still be a run-heavy team. Michael Bush will certainly see his share of action, but over a 16-game season, Forte's numbers should still finish north of 250.
Matt Forte: 223-1025 Rushing Yards and Seven TDS—48-425 Receiving Yards and Two TDS
Michael Bush Comes to Town
Michael Bush is no stranger to carrying the load, either. In Oakland last season, he was a backup to Darren McFadden, but he took over as the starter in Week 7 when McFadden was lost for the season. Bush became the workhorse for the Raiders, with 293 touches, 256 rushes and 37 receptions. He wasn't the top receiver for Oakland like Forte was for Chicago, but Bush still finished as their No. 2 pass catcher and proved that he's a threat as both a rusher and receiver.
While Forte has been holding out, Bush has been getting time with the first team offense. He knows that his role is a backup to Forte when Forte gets into camp, but Bush will still be effective coming off the bench.
Look for him to steal a series or two each game, keeping Forte fresh and hopefully preventing him from going down to injury like he did last year. If Forte does miss time, though, Bush has already shown he can carry the load full time.
Michael Bush: 152-635 Rushing Yards and Four TDS—24-214 Receiving Yards and 1 TD.
With Bush and Forte, the Bears are going to be a formidable one-two punch for the Bears this year. With an improved passing offense and crushing running game, they are poised to put up some of their best offensive numbers in years.