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Bears Weekly Progress Report: Forte, Bennett Jump Forward, Davis Slips Back

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Bears Weekly Progress Report: Forte, Bennett Jump Forward, Davis Slips Back
John Gress/Getty Images

The Bears took some time to get going, but they walked away from their tougher-than-expected matchup with the Carolina Panthers with a win.

As I said at the time, there is no column for "good win" or "clean win"—just "win."

So as we move into Week 9, the Bears can be content that, so far, much has gone according to plan.

Some hasn't, but it's worked out anyway. Today, we're going to hang on the offensive side of the ball and see what has and hasn't gone according to plan and how sometimes it doesn't matter.

 

Running Back Committee That Isn't

So I guess we can say that Matt Forte won't be sharing carries very often. In the two games since the bye week, Forte has carried the ball 37 times to Bush's nine.

It's fine, and it has worked out for the most part. Forte has even received some red-zone carries, and Bush remains a very good, very reliable backup.

David Banks/Getty Images

Why the shift? It's impossible to say what made them change things after all they said in the preseason and after what we saw the first few games before Forte and then Bush were hurt. 

Since Dallas, the team has run Forte on the majority of their carries.

The only thing not working perhaps is the lack of overall carries in the run game. Forte can carry and would be more effective with 20 or so touches, but that's not happening right now.

If they got him up there, it would loosen things up for the passing game and might help the offense get started earlier in games.

Regardless, it appears as if Forte is the "bell cow" back in an offense that was not supposed to have one.

 

Receivers Don't Miss a Beat

With rookie Alshon Jeffery out, we weren't sure if Earl Bennett would be able to step up, but he did. Mind you, this is still the Brandon Marshall show (and Marshall is doing great work, as shown in this piece about the final drive Sunday), and this won't change any time soon, since no defense has been able to slow it down lately.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

However, several times late in the game on Sunday, Bennett was looked at to make a big play, and he did. He had three catches, all for first downs.

As much as I like Jeffery, he wasn't doing that.

Bennett is a guy who, every year, we hear about how he and Cutler went to Vanderbilt together and how that will translate to big plays and chemistry.

It never happens. Until now.

Even when Jeffery returns (and rumor has it he could in about two more weeks), if Bennett keeps this up, you can expect him to be an important part of this offense.

 

Tight Ends Apparently Cloaked

At some point, Kellen Davis just stopped hanging onto the football, and as that was the case, he's seeing less and less targets.

It's not just him, mind you. Matt Spaeth dropped a sure first down this past weekend. Rookie Evan Rodriguez has been hurt, and when not hurt, he's just flat-out uninvolved.

What's going on?

David Banks/Getty Images

A few things, I think.

First, they aren't reliable either catching the ball or blocking. All the tight ends are struggling in both areas, and let's face it, if you can't catch and you can't block, someone else will be on the field.

Secondly, Brandon Marshall is, as I said above, the guy here. As long as the above first point in this section is true, why would you go anywhere else since Marshall is catching 62 percent of his targets.

Sure, that could be better, but that's his best since 2009 in Denver.

Behind Marshall are guys Cutler can trust, like the aforementioned Bennett and Matt Forte.

Maybe the tight ends would have more success if they saw the ball more. 

But it's a risk the offense won't take, nor should they, until they start doing something with the ones they already get. Kellen Davis' nice touchdown catch Sunday aside, that hasn't happened much.

 

Check out the B/R NFC North Facebook page—like us and keep up with everything NFC North on Bleacher Report.

Follow me on Twitter at @andrew_garda.

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