Among the many complaints about the Bears offense in 2012 was the way the team failed to make full use of running back Matt Forte’s skills as a receiver.
Forte caught 44 passes for 340 yards last year, setting career lows in each stat even after Forte missed four games of the 2011 season. That slump was part of the overall offensive issues that forced Lovie Smith out and brought Marc Trestman in as head coach and it is a slump the team is looking to halt this year.
Forte says Trestman told him he’s watched a lot of film of Forte running a lot of different kinds of routes and that the Bears plan to incorporate a lot of them into their offense. That’s left Forte with “challenging” work to do to prepare himself for a return to a more versatile offensive role.
“It’s easy to learn what you do, but to actually have to learn the concepts of what the receivers are doing and why I have to run this route to get that guy open … it makes it more difficult, but also more intriguing as a player,” Forte said, via Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com. “I have to learn more than what the ‘H’ does. I’ve got to learn what the ‘F’ does, (and) where he lines up because I may have a situation where I line up as a receiver. I have to learn the receivers’ routes as well.”
An increased role for Forte as a receiver out of the backfield fits with what we’ve heard about shorter drops and quicker throws from the Bears offense this season. It also sounds better than what the team was trying in 2012, although the talk out of Bears camp this year sounded a lot better than the offense looked in 2011. The proof will come in a few months, likely with a healthy serving of Forte as receiver in the mix.