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Monday, August 26, 2013
#NFLRank: Matt Forte sits at No. 48

By Michael C. Wright

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte on Monday made the latest installment of ESPN's NFL Rank project, which lists the top 100 offensive and defensive players in the league heading into this season.

Forte enters his sixth season in 2013, and ranked No. 48 among offensive players headed into this year, one spot behind Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (No. 47) and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (46).

ESPN Stats & Information said this about Forte:

 “Since entering the league in2008, Forte has 15 100-yard rushing games. The Bears are 14-1 in those games. Of the 19 running backs with at least 10 100-yard games over that span, Forte’s 14-1 record is the best.”

 That’s not a surprise, considering the brand of football the Bears play, which is highlighted by a stifling, turnover-producing defense that allows the team to play keep-away.

Football Outsiders said: “Matt Forte’s struggles at the goal line, and shaky O-line has held him back a bit.”

I agree with the second part of that sentence, but disagree with the first part. Statistically, the numbers definitely indicate Forte has struggled from the goal line in the past. But I don’t think he’s a guy that can’t get it done on the goal line.

Forte provided proof of that against the San Diego Chargers on Aug. 15. From the 11-yard line, the Bears handed to Forte on three consecutive snaps, and the running back gained a total of 8 yards on back-to-back plays, before capping the drive with a 3-yard burst.

Obviously, the offensive line is a little better now with all the moves the Bears made through free agency and the draft. But credit also goes to Bears coach Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, who have implemented zone-blocking schemes, which allow Forte to pick his own holes.

With the new blocking schemes in place, my guess is Forte will eventually shed his reputation as a poor producer on the goal line.