Lovie Smith officially ruled out Matt Forte.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) September 21, 2012
So, combine this durability concern with the holdout and Forte hasn't given the Chicago Bears much to rely on in 2012.
Include the solid production seen from Michael Bush on the ground and Chicago has its No. 1 ball-carrier. Bush's presence in the backfield is a dual threat and he helps take pressure off Jay Cutler and the passing game as well.
Now because of the Bears' vulnerable pass protection and Cutler being interception prone at times, Chicago will have to count on Bush even more to move the chains. This is also one smart play as the Windy City's new Brahma Bull displays impressive confidence.
In an article by Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago:
"Hopefully, I can get people to get that knock off me about not being an every-down back," Bush said.
"I still think I need to prove to the coaches each week that I get a chance. The more I get to play, the more I get to show them, and the more (I hope) they'll trust in me, believe in me and give me more opportunities to more things."
Putting all the pieces of this puzzle together, here is what to expect from Forte for the remainder of the season.
Role in Bears' Offense
Regardless of when Forte gets healthy, he will see a reduced role in Chicago's offense.
The backfield belongs to Bush and the Bears need consistency on the ground. This is what Bush has provided thus far and Forte won't get much outside of being a third-down option.
Yes, Forte was the man from 2008 through most of 2011 but this is clearly no longer the case.
Chicago needs to field an efficient and balanced attack, and Bush is the every-down carrier. Forte, however, gives the Bears a two-back look on third-down situations as he's still a dual threat.
Capable of beating any linebacker in single coverage, Cutler need not hold onto the ball very long before checking down. And with two reliable options out of the backfield, Forte won't get zeroed in on by defenses either.
His number of snaps and touches will lessen, although he'll become more efficient thanks to more favorable matchups when contributing.
Fantasy Football Implications
Right now, Forte is a flex option at best.
Sure, he produced emphatically well in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts. There, Forte totaled 120 yards and one touchdown. He was also performing decently against the Green Bay Packers before the injury.
Well, for one, Bush was already taking carries away because of his short-yard production and nose for the end zone. No matter when Forte returns, we can't expect him to immediately take the position back and begin racking up yards and points.
Chicago's passing game also needs to improve, so a balanced attack can be a threat. Additionally, the Bears don't face a cakewalk schedule, as solid defenses like Dallas, Jacksonville, Houston and San Francisco lie ahead.
In short, the long-term perspective of Forte doesn't have much appeal in late September.
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