Chicago Bears Offseason Analysis: The Running Backs

Joey GarciaCorrespondent IMarch 23, 2009

CHICAGO - DECEMBER 07: Kyle Orton #18 of the Chicago Bears hands off to Matt Forte #22 during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 7, 2008 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Jaguars 23-10. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

In today's offseason analysis, we will take a look at the running back position.

We last left off with Matt breaking down the offensive line with players on our current roster and areas of need.

From offensive line to the players they will be blocking for, we will evaluate our talent at running back for the 09 season.

April's draft will be only the second time since 2002 that the Bears will not select a running back in the NFL draft since there are four running backs currently on our roster.

Chicago is a city with a proud tradition and rich history of running backs. From Beattie Feathers, to Red Grange, to Gale Sayers, to the greatest running back of all time Walter "Sweetness" Payton himself.

Over many years that tradition and heritage has been diminished with names like Enis, Salaam, and Benson.

There have been a couple of potential promises with names like rookie sensation Anthony Thomas that only diminished in productivity, and Thomas Jones that for whatever reason was traded to the Jets.

Chicago will look to go back to a two running back system this season.

Many NFL teams are successful with the two RB scheme and makes it more difficult for defensive coordinators to plan around.

Kevin Jones will be Forte's complement back and the pair of fresh legs that should keep defenses tired.

We will evaluate these running backs starting from Forte down to Garret Wolfe.

Matt Forte No. 22

6'2"    216 lbs


Matt Forte was the Bears first rookie to start at running back since Walter Payton in 1975.

Forte made his NFL debut against the Colts and rushed for 123 yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry that game.

Forte broke for a 50-yard touch down run in the first quarter in which he broke tackles and left NFL's Defensive Player Of the Year Bob Sanders looking from behind.

Forte was the work horse and entire Bears' offense in his rookie year leading the team in both rushing and receiving for most of the 08 season.

Forte had a workload of 316 rushes and registered 1,238 yards rushing. He showed that he was an all-around back by compiling 477 yards receiving with 12 total touchdowns.

In his rookie season, Forte broke legendary running back Gale Sayers' rookie record for total yards from scrimmage by a rookie, and was a finalist for the NFL's Rookie Of the Year.

Forte will look to continue his success in the '09 season while sharing more of his work load with Jones.

Forte, if healthy, will continue to be a major contributor into next season and should pile up another 1,000 yard season.

Forte's fellow RB is former Lion:

Kevin Jones No. 27

6'2" 216 lbs

College-Virgina Tech

Jones was drafted in the 2004 season and was a standout as a rookie. Jones rushed for over 1,133 yards with five touchdowns and averaged 4.7 yards per carry his rookie year.

Jones was picked up by the Bears before the start of the '08 season as an insurance policy for Forte.

Since Forte turned out to be an every-down back, Jones only had 34 attempts rushing for 109 yards.

Jones asked to move to special teams later in the season so he could continue to contribute on the field.

Jones was recently signed in the offseason for two more years with the Bears. Kevin's signing makes sense for the Bears rather than go looking for another running back in free agency.

Jones already knows the system and will come into the '09 season with a clean bill of health.

Jones will have a much bigger role running the ball next season having a two running back tandem system put into place.

Smith, 26, can prove to be a solid backup running back for the Chicago Bears for many more seasons depending on injury and success.

The next back on our list is running back:

Adrian Peterson No. 29

5'10"  210 lbs

College-Georgia Southern

Peterson was drafted in the sixth round in the 2002 season by the Chicago Bears.

Adrian ran for 100 yards on only 20 attempts last season.

Peterson's role has diminished over the years with players like Benson, Jones, and now Forte being the solidified starters with Kevin jones taking the No. 2 spot.

Peterson is a very tough back who is not afraid to take or deliver a hit.

In the '07 season when Cedric Benson sustained a season ending injury  against Denver, Adrian stepped up and rushed for 510 yards the rest of the season and had his first career 100-yard rushing game.

Peterson's famous play as a Bear came that game against the Broncos where he Bulldozed his way into the end zone with the entire Bronco defense in his way.

Adrian has been primarily relied on as a specialist over the recent years. In 2004 he led the Chicago Bears special team unit with 28 tackles.

Peterson will definitely be on the field for the '09 season, but in a limited role again.

Look for Adrian in some third-down situations with occasional run blocking, pass protection, and some halfback screens.

The final running back on our roster is:

Garrett Wolfe No. 25

5'7" 186 lbs

College-Northern Illinois

Garrett Wolfe was drafted in the third round in the 2007 draft.

Wolfe had 31 attempts for only 85 yards rushing during his rookie campaign.

Last season Wolfe had 46 rushes for 154 yards rushing.

Wolfe has proved to be a solid special team player maker and his speed makes him dangerous on punt blocks.

Wolfe was drafted for his quick speed, but at 186 pounds, Wolfe has been swallowed up by linebackers at the line of scrimmage on plays up the middle.

Wolfe's role will be very limited in the '09 season, but he will definitely see some playing time on draws, a slot type back, or halfback screens.

Look for him to continue to make plays on special teams and have a few break out plays.

In all, Forte and Jones should have a productive year and will hopefully solidify the running back situation for many more years.

In our next segment of Chicago Bears offseason Analysis, my fellow sports colleague Matt will give us a look at the wide receiver position.


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