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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2012 Bears Position Reviews: Runningbacks

Mike Tice was supposed to return the Bears offense to traditional, ground-and-pound BEAR FOOTBAW after the team often forgot that half of the offense under Mike Martz. One would think that Tice was an improvement after the Bears finished 10th in the NFL in rushing, but they actually rushed for fewer yards (1970) in 2012 than they had (2015) the year before, just one of many disappointments that the brief Tice Experiment represented.

#22 Matt Forte, 15 games, 15 games started, 248 attempts, 1094 YDs, 5 TDs, 4.4 YPA, 72.9 YPG, 44 rec., 340 YDs, 7.7 YPC, 1 TD.

Taken as a whole, Matt Forte's numbers look respectable, and pretty similar to his very good 2010 campaign, if not the ridiculous season he was on pace for before his injury in 2011. From week to week, however, the story was quite different. Mike Tice seemed to have the not-altogether horrible idea of keeping Forte from having to single-handedly carry the offense as he had the previous year. In reality this led to Tice using Forte irregularly, replacing him with Michael Bush at awkward intervals, and ultimately giving him just 15 or fewer carries in nearly half of his starts. For comparison's sake, Forte had just 8 games with 15 or fewer carries in his last 22 games (minus the Kansas City game where he was injured) under the notoriously pass-happy Mike Martz (the Bears went 15-7 in that time).

Even worse than Tice's inconsistent use of Forte as a runner was his use of Forte as a receiver. Forte had fewer catches this year than in any other year of his career. Even worse than that, his yards per reception average dropped to a paltry 7.7, well below the 10.1 YPC he averaged in two years under Mike Martz. Far too often Tice called plays that featured Forte as a checkdown, rather than a featured target on wheel routes or screens, two plays that were successful staples of Martz offense. Hopefully Trestman will restore the runningback to prominence in the passing game, as he did in 2002 with the Raiders when Charlie Garner had 91 receptions for 941 YDs.

#29 Michael Bush, 13 games, 1 game started, 114 attempts, 411 YDs, 5 TDs, 3.6 YPA, 31.6 YPG, 9 rec., 83 YDs, 9.2 YPC.

Michael Bush's statistics may not appear to be that much better than Marion Barber's from 2011, but the impact he had on the team in short-yardage and goal-to-go situations cannot be overstated. for the first time in recent memory we had no reason to fear when the Bears needed to pick up a yard in crunch time. Of course, sometimes Tice forgot he existed and opted to go empty backfield on 2nd and inches and GOD DAMMIT ANOTHER INTERCEPTION ON A SEAM ROUTE TO KELLEN DAVIS. Unfortunately, his injury came just as the tailspin was beginning, and he was sorely missed. Hopefully he can stay healthy next year, because he's a very useful player to have.

#32 Kahlil Bell, 4 games, 0 games started, 29 attempts, 76 yards, 2.6 YPA, 19.0 YPG, 1 rec., 11 YDs, 11.0 YPC.

Bell was cut in the preseason, as the Bears gave him a new contract in the offseason solely to put the squeeze on Forte. He was re-signed while Forte was hurt and lacked the burst he had shown the year before. He's gone once more and will probably not return.

#25 Armando Allen, 15 games, 0 games started, 27 attempts, 124 yds, 1 TD, 4.6 YPA, 8.3 YPG, 2 rec., 16 YDs, 8.0 YPC.

Allen, previously an afterthought, turned out to be a swift change of pace back who provided a nice complement to the bigger and more powerful Forte and Bush. He's got potential and seems to have proven that he can be trusted with more carries, if needed.

That's all for now, next time I will salivate over Brandon Marshall and pour my scorn upon the (hopefully) last days of the Devin Hester Package.

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