Saturday, November 01, 2008

Speaking of Numbers

Lots of Bears fans around the internets have been bemoaning the decline in production of Matt Forte, which seems pretty stupid to me. Over the past four games, the focus of the offense has definitely been the passsing game, and Forte's been the best receiving back in the league by a considerable margin. So even though his rushing production hasn't been as much as it was early in the season, it's not like he's been unproductive overall.

But even putting aside his tremendous value as a receiving back, he's still been doing a lot of important things on the ground. The major NFL statistics that everyone pays attention to are pretty much worthless, and this is one of those cases. Forte's running production has dropped mainly because the Bears offense has been using the run game tactically, for immediate advantages (like first downs), rather than to do much of the actual moving of the ball. I'd felt like Forte had continued to be incredibly productive in that respect, but I hadn't really bothered to look into whether or not my perception had any evidence for it. "He has picked up 37 first downs this season, tied for the fifth most in the NFL, and his 17 first downs on third down are tied for the most in the league," says the article on the Bears website today.

Not that it will shut up any of the whiners out there. But we've got a really solid back in Forte, who does far more important things for our offense than just racking up yards. I expect over the second half of the season, now that Orton is being discussed as an actual threat, we'll see less of teams stacking up against the run, and as a result Forte's yards-only production will probably go up, and everyone will be happy again.

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