Forte's value not lost on teammates

October, 26, 2011
10/26/11
3:16
PM ET
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Anyone who has seen the Chicago Bears play this season realizes just how important Matt Forte is to the team's offensive success. Nobody understands that point more than quarterback Jay Cutler.

[+] EnlargeMatt Forte
Kyle Terada/US PresswireMatt Forte is on pace to join some elite company in the record books this season.
When asked Wednesday if there is a better all-around back right now in the NFL, Cutler said: "Nah, not even close. What he can do [on] first, second and third down in the passing game and the running game, inside and outside -- if we lose him, we’ve got a lot of issues."

Cutler isn't the only Bear who feels that way.

"Matt is great, man," wide receiver Earl Bennett said. "He's doing a phenomenal job this year. He's going out every game, staying poised, going out and just making plays is what it comes down to. He's one of those guys, you never know when he's going to break [one], so as a receiver you've got to be blocking downfield."

Through seven games, Forte has racked up 1,091 yards of total offense -- which leads the NFL -- and three touchdowns. If he continues at this pace, Forte could become just the third player in NFL history to gain 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 receiving. Former San Francisco 49ers great Roger Craig was the first to do it and ex-St. Louis Rams star -- and Mike Martz pupil -- Marshall Faulk was the other.

"Well, they're different guys, but they certainly do the same kinds of things," Martz said of the Faulk/Forte comparisons. "The intelligence there ... the football IQ is off the charts with Matt. You can tell him in the classroom and he has it. He is not one of those guys who you have to go up to and walk through it or anything like that. There are just so many things you can do with him. His speed is really unusual.

"Getting him in the perimeter is a priority. He's become a terrific inside runner. There really isn't anything he can't do very well or understand, which makes him pretty darn good."

Forte says he feels good and is enjoying the lighter practices during the bye week. Obviously, that's easier to do when you lead the league in yards from scrimmage.

"It feels good," he said of leading the league in yards from scrimmage. "It lets me know that the hard work in the offseason pays off. It makes you feel good that I’m being successful on the field, and I want to continue to be successful out there."

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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