Chicago Bears: A Tale of Two Running Backs

Ed LeiserCorrespondent IMarch 26, 2010

DETROIT - JANUARY 03: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears looks for running room during a first quarter run while playing the Detroit Lions on January 3, 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

If you're looking for an eventful NFL draft next month, you might want to look outside of the city of Chicago. The Bears have a draft plan that is about as exciting as a Nationals-Pirates spring training game.

Of course, what they did a few weeks ago on the first day of free agency has lessened the blow, and draft-crazed fans will likely give the team a pass for not having a first- or second-round draft pick.

While everyone and their brother will talk about Julius Peppers (and rightfully so), the most important acquisition made by the Bears was running back Chester Taylor.

The addition of Taylor is key, because today's NFL game all but requires two capable running backs. 

The two best teams this past season, the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts, each had multiple running backs to plug into their offensive schemes. 

While it helps to have Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, it's also important to have fresh legs to run the ball and manage the clock.

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The Bears were a mess in more ways than one last year. One of their supposed strengths—Matt Forte and the running game—was anything but.

In a year when many Bears personnel thought Forte could take the next step, he actually went backward—about 300 yards or so.

Having not yet reached the "elite" tier of NFL running backs, the Bears opened up their checkbooks to get Forte some competition and a much-needed backup pair or legs.

In Chester Taylor, though, they may have actually acquired a starter—but that's beside the point.

Taylor, 30, is a durable back who has more than 4,000 career rushing yards on his resume, and more than 2,000 receiving as well.

New offensive coordinator Mike Martz has been known to use his running backs in the passing game, and both Forte and Taylor have the ability to produce in the passing game.

When your supposed No. 1 receiver is Devin Hester, you need all the help you can get from your backfield.

The Bears now have an interesting dilemma.

In Forte, who struggled, they have a quality back not yet at his peak. One could make the argument that Taylor will stunt his development.

Of course the opposite could be true, and Forte could thrive under a new play-caller and a veteran looking over his shoulder, pushing him.

The Bears offense in general should be much improved.

Two is always better than one, and the number of bodies just didn't add up last year in Chicago's backfield.

Forte and Taylor could use better blocking to be sure, but that's a topic for another day.

One thing is for sure: Jay Cutler has to be excited about the addition of Taylor.

Taylor does all the little things right for an NFL running back, which could mean throwing a key block for Cutler or at the very least getting open for a convenient flare route.

Forte was clearly broken down in the second half of last season, likely because his rushing attempts (258) were 218 more than the nearest Bears running back, Kahlil Bell.

Having Taylor to share the reps only increases Forte's value to the Bears' rushing attack.

It's an offense still in need of a playmaker at wide receiver and needs some help at the guard position, but at least the Bears can cross "running back" off of their offseason checklist.

So fear not, Bears fans, because the inevitable dull draft this April doesn't mean as much as it could have.

The Bears already filled needs for 2010.