Diamond in the Rough: The Emergence of Matt Forte

Nick VandiverCorrespondent IOctober 14, 2008

The Monsters of the Midway have been called as such for many years. Their great defense was the bane of many an offensive coordinator, with players such as Mike Singletary and Dick Butkus. You might say today's Bear's defense is slight less imposing, but they are still a force to be reckoned with. Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Charles Tillman are names most people know. But the biggest surprise for Chicago this year isn't a great defensive star.

It's an offensive no-namer.

Think about it. Going into this year's draft, how many people knew the name of the 2,000 yard rusher from Tulane? Tulane isn't really the most successful college, so their players aren't really the most well known. But Matt Forte was there. And oh, what a year he had in 2007.

By rushing for over 2,100 yards and 23 touchdowns, he was became one of the most exciting players in the nation. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry, so Tulane fans held their breath every time he got the ball. He was of the most successful and thrilling players in the country.

But who had hear of him?

Sure, there are the college football fans who check ESPN every day so they can see the stats. They probably saw Forte and said," Well, he's from Tulane. They must have an easy schedule. Once he graduates, I'll probably never see him in the NFL."

If you were one of those people.....wow, how wrong can be?

When the Chicago Bears selected him in the NFL Draft, no one really knew who he was. They never expected him to play. After all, the Bears had a solid corps of runningbacks. They never thought they would need to draft a feature back, so they didn't. Forte was never projected to be a starting NFL tailback.

Well, we know what happened next.

With Cedric Benson releases after his arrest, the Bears rushing attack was without a spark. They needed to find someone who could be productive every week and keep the chains moving for their offense.

Matt Forte answered their prayers.

He won the starting job in training camp, and showed his ability throughout the preseason. Being a rookie tailback, he was not expected to have a great showing as the starter. After all, they were playing the Colts in Week 1! How could he possibly succeed?


Who would thought that the nameless rookie, the former 2,000 yard rusher could have done what he did to the Colts defense? Forte ran for 123 yards and a touchdown by running through Dwight Freeney, Gary Brackett, and Bob Sanders. He had a 50 yard dash that really boosted the offense's confidence and allowed them to pull off the upset.

Again, I say: Who had heard of Matt Forte?

Admittedly, he has slowed down a little every week since then, but the Bears know he still has the ability to move the chains and run on any defense. He also allows for flexible game planning, as he is also a great pass catcher out of the backfield.

Forte is making a very strong case for rookie of the year, but he has to remain productive in order to beat out Matt Ryan of the Falcons and Felix Jones of the Cowboys. Both have gotten off to great starts, but Forte has just as much talent as either.

Forte may not be your starting fantasy runningback. He might not even be a backup. But you just wait a few more weeks. Forte is going to emerge as a top runner in this league, and all the naysayers will eat their words. Better learn the name "Forte" real fast. The Green Wave has finally struck the shores of the NFL.