Thursday, November 4, 2010
Matt Forte's limitations near the goal line
By Kevin Seifert
We spent so much time discussing the officiating involved in Jay Cutler’s goal-line fumble two weeks ago at Soldier Field that we missed the bigger issue: Why did the Chicago Bears call a quarterback keeper in the first place?
The reality is the Bears have no legitimate goal-line rushing threat, making them almost totally one-dimensional and contributing to their inability to finish drives. We’ve noted this almost exactly a year ago, but it bears an updated mention. Over the past two seasons, tailback Matt Forte has 44 carries in goal-to-go situations. He has scored only four touchdowns on those carries, including only one of 11 this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
For some perspective on what a good performance would be, consider that only two players got more goal-to-go carries than Forte last season. The Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson scored on 15 of his 38 carries, while then-San Diego Charger LaDainian Tomlinson scored on 11 of 37.
This season, you have seen a couple short-yardage specialists emerge around the NFL. The Chargers’ Mike Tolbert has six touchdowns on nine goal-to-go carries, while the Cleveland Browns’ Peyton Hillis has five in nine carries.
Obviously, Forte doesn’t deserve all of the blame here. Push from the offensive line plays a huge role near the goal line. But I think we have a large enough sample size, both statistically and just based on observation, to accept that Forte isn’t a great option near the goal line.
Perhaps we’ll see more of backup Chester Taylor in that role during the second half of the season, starting with Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills. Taylor is generally considered a stronger and more decisive inside runner than Forte.