Chicago Bears: Danny Woodhead

Bears free agency preview: Running backs

February, 8, 2013
ESPNChicago examines potential unrestricted free agents at positions of need for the Bears.

ForteBrace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY SportsMatt Forte topped 1,000 yards rushing for the third time in his five-year career.

Free agency previews: S | CB | DT | DE | G | WR | TE | QB | LB | OT

The Chicago Bears invested heavily in their ground game last offseason when they awarded lucrative contracts to Matt Forte (four years, $30.4 million, $17.1 million guaranteed) and Michael Bush (four years, $14 million, $7 million guaranteed), only to see both players have relatively modest seasons amid talk that neither was used enough.

Forte managed to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards (1,094) for the third time in his five-year NFL career, but his average yards-per-carry fell from 4.9 to 4.4, and he also set career-lows in receptions with 44 for 340 yards. However, Forte remains one of the top all-purpose backs in the league and should be one of the key offensive pieces moving forward under new Bears coach Marc Trestman.

Injuries seemed to limit Bush, who dealt with shoulder and rib issues during his first season in Chicago after a successful four-year stint with the Oakland Raiders. But even when Bush was healthy last season, he did little more than provide the Bears with an effective and powerful goal-line back.

Bush views himself as much more than simply a battering ram in the red zone, but he only carried the ball 114 times and caught nine passes in 13 games. In Bush's final year in Oakland, he ran the ball 256 times and had 37 receptions while starting nine of the Raiders' 16 regular season games. Everybody knew Bush came to Chicago to back up Forte, but Bush probably believed he would see more action in the Bears' backfield when he signed.

With Forte ($7.175) and Bush ($3.550) scheduled to eat up a combined $10.725 million in salary cap space in 2013, the Bears' only objective this offseason might be to upgrade at the No. 3 running back spot, although options do exist internally.

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Rapid Reaction: Patriots 36, Bears 7

December, 12, 2010

CHICAGO -- No sense devoting too much wordplay to this stinker.

It became abundantly clear quickly that the home-team Chicago Bears were more affected by the inclement weather conditions than the visiting New England Patriots, who rode Tom Brady’s arm to a 36-7 smack down at Soldier Field.

Chicago’s embarrassing loss brings back the question that has hung over the club all season: Are the Bears the real deal?

They definitely didn’t look the part against the Patriots.

What it means: The Bears squandered an opportunity to pad their lead atop the NFC North by falling to the Patriots. Earlier in the day, the Green Bay Packers -- already a game behind the Bears in the division -- lost 7-3 to the Detroit Lions. Further complicating matters for Green Bay was the concussion quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered in the first half that casts doubt about his availability for the Packers' matchup next week at New England.

So had the Bears taken care of business Sunday against New England, they’d be two games up against a Packers team that could very well be on the way to yet another loss next week on the road against what appears to be the best team in the league.

Snow what? That’s probably what the Patriots say to the notion of inclement weather at Soldier Field affecting their offense. The Patriots racked up 273 yards in the first half, converting on 67 percent of third downs.

The team with home-field advantage, meanwhile, managed just 33 yards of offense in the first half as quarterback Jay Cutler succumbed to two sacks and finished with a passer rating of 58.3. The area the Bears hoped to lean on most -- the rushing attack -- produced just 19 yards in the first half, led by Matt Forte, who averaged 1.9 yards per carry. The club’s longest run in the first two quarters was a 7-yard scramble by Cutler.

Brady lights up Cover 2: Chicago made no secret of its plan to stay in Cover 2 and test Brady’s patience by forcing him to take short passes. Brady did that and more in the first half, lighting up the Bears' Cover 2 defense for 195 yards in the first half with two touchdowns and a passer rating of 124.1.

Brady displayed patience against Chicago’s Cover 2 in taking New England on 12- and 11-play scoring drives to start the game. Then, when the Bears started to take more chances in coverage, the quarterback and his receivers took advantage. On the final play of the second quarter, Brady hit Deion Branch -- who beat Bears corner Charles Tillman on the route -- for 59-yard touchdown as time expired.

In the first half alone, the Patriots lined up in six different personnel packages on offense, in addition to no-huddle. The Bears seemed to have no answer, and by the end of the third quarter, two New England receivers -- Branch and Wes Welker -- had each racked up more than 100 yards on a combined 15 catches.

Record-setting first half: Chicago’s performance in the first half Sunday will go in the team's record books, just not the way it would like. The Bears allowed the second-most first-half points in franchise history, surrendering 33 through the first two quarters.

What’s next: Minnesota is next up on the schedule, but there’s uncertainty concerning whether the Bears will be able to play the Vikings at the Metrodome next Monday night because the facility’s inflatable roof caved in under the weight of heavy snows in the area.

Bill Lester, executive director of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission -- which operates the Metrodome -- reportedly said that extent of the damage was still being assessed. But Steve Maki, the facilities manager, told the Associated Press he is optimistic the roof can be repaired in time for the Monday night matchup.

Second quarter: Patriots 33, Bears 0

December, 12, 2010
Matt ForteJerry Lai/US PresswireMatt Forte and the Bears have struggled to get anything going against the Patriots.
CHICAGO -- The New England Patriots dominated the Chicago Bears on both sides of the ball to take a 33-0 halftime lead on a cold, windy and snowy day at Soldier Field.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw for 195 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 59-yard scoring pass to Deon Branch as time expired in the first half. The Bears' defense totally collapsed on that final play, allowing Branch a free path the end zone behind cornerback Charles Tillman and a late arriving safety.

New England multi-purpose back Danny Woodhead scored on a 3-yard run earlier in the quarter.

The Patriots had 273 total yards and 15 first downs.

On the other hand, the Patriots' defense completely shut down Mike Martz's offense, holding the Bears to an embarrassing 33 yards in the first half. The Bears were unable to protect the football, turning it over twice, which led to 10 additional New England points.

After a short completion, Bears receiver Johnny Knox was stripped by Patriots rookie corner Devin McCourty, and the live ball was scooped up by linebacker Gary Guyton who ran it back 35 yards for a touchdown.

Later in the half, Jay Cutler was sacked and fumbled the ball inside his own 10-yard line, which ultimately resulted in a Shane Graham 25-yard field goal.

Graham added another field goal (30 yards), set up by a 42-yard punt return by New England's Julian Edelman.

Edelman also had a 71-yard punt return touchdown called back because of a holding penalty, thus saving the Bears from further humiliation.