Reviving memories of his breakout rookie season, Matt Forte reeled off an 89-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter of Saturday’s action. Forte would end the night with 109 yards on five attempts, but it was his home run carry that left the Soldier Field crowd buzzing. The NFL website has the highlight, including an end zone angle, a perfect vantage point for a breakdown:
Chicago comes out in a singleback formation. Knox split wide to the left, Hester in the left slot. Kellen Davis is at tight end on the right side of the line, with Olsen out wide to the right. Oakland appears to be in man coverage, with CBs right in front of Hester and Knox and safety Tyvon Branch a few yards from Olsen. Seven Oakland defenders are in the box, with safety Michael Huff back about 15 yards from the ball before the snap.
Olsen motions in from the outside and Branch follows, again indicating the likelihood of man coverage. At the snap, Olsen pins LB Kamerion Wimbley, allowing Forte to get outside after receiving the deep handoff from Cutler. Davis and RT Frank Omiyale effectively drive their men inside, while RG Lance Louis and C Olin Kreutz pull to the outside. Away from the play, LG Roberto Garza cuts his man, and LT Chris Williams gets upfield for a crucial block on the backside linebacker (Trevor Scott), which will be revisited shortly.
The two most important blocks come from the pulling duo of Louis and Kreutz. First, Louis drives Branch outside the numbers, allowing more space for Forte to make his cut to the inside. Kreutz then delivers a perfect cut block on Oakland rookie LB Rolando McClain. Running just to the left of Kreutz’s block, Forte follows the tight end wall made by the down blocks of Davis and Olsen, and there’s only one man left to beat: the safety, Huff.
But before we get there, let’s go back to Williams’ block, which ended up with the backside linebacker on the ground, victim of another chop. Why is that so vital? Most tackles on outside run plays are made by the backside linebacker, who flow over the top of the other blocks and bring down the ballcarrier before he reaches the secondary. With that player on the ground, Forte has plenty of open space to make his move past Huff and into the open field. Without Williams block, Forte would not have been able to cut back for the touchdown. He probably would have had 20 to 30 yards easily up the right sideline, but a touchdown would’ve been more difficult.
From there, Forte turns on the jets and the Oakland secondary can’t catch No. 22. An 89-yard touchdown run took just 12-seconds of game time. One more thing worth mentioning: Johnny Knox was on a full sprint the entire way, hustling downfield to possibly throw a block if Forte had needed to cut back. You have to love seeing that kind of hustle from a young player.
There were definitely some ugly plays in Saturday’s game, but this run from Forte may have been the best thing I’ve seen from the Bears in this preseason. If Chicago can run the ball like this in 2010, the offense is going to be fine.