Chiefs Must Hold The Forte … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

Two weeks ago, the Chiefs defense faced the prolific offense of the New England Patriots. They went into the game with the idea of controlling WRs Wes Welker and Deion Branch. If QB Tom Brady was going to beat them, it would have to be through other means.

Welker and Branch were not factors in the Patriots victory (combined 4 catches for 41 yards), but Brady found others to throw too, specifically TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

Last Sunday night, Romeo Crennel’s defense faced the not as prolific but sometimes explosive Pittsburgh Steelers offense. They went into the game with the idea of controlling WR Mike Wallace and TE Heath Miller.

Wallace and Miller were not factors in the Steelers victory (combined 3 catches for 37 yards), but QB Ben Roethlisberger found enough playmakers to win the game, even thought it was with one touchdown.

This Sunday, the Chiefs defense has another challenge, but it’s quite different than what they saw the last two weeks. Brady and Roethlisberger are among the game’s elite quarterbacks. Not so much for this week’s starting QB Caleb Hanie. Undrafted out of college, he’s filling in for the injured Jay Cutler and his first performance wasn’t very pretty last week against Oakland – 3 interceptions and just 50 percent completions in losing to the Raiders.

But the Bears do not have to rely on Hanie, because they have one of the most productive offensive weapons in the league – RB Matt Forte. The challenge for Crennel and his crew is handling Forte as a runner and a receiver; he’s Chicago’s leading rusher and receiver and he’s just 15 yards away from reaching 1,000 rushing yards and 10 yards away from 500 receiving yards.

“He is really good,” said Crennel. “He’s got size (6-2, 220 pounds) and he’s got strength. He can start one way and get back to the other side of the ball rather quickly. We have to do an excellent job on our force, not letting him get outside and up the sideline. Those guys inside have to do a good job of wrapping up and tackling him. It’s going take everybody doing all the things you need to do like an extra guy in the box, pursuit, tackling, more than one guy to the football to get the guy to the ground.”

Forte just may be the best “unknown” offensive star in the league. His name is not likely to slip off the tongue of the average fan when they are asked who the best running backs in the NFL are. Guys like Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, Chris Johnson, even Ray Rice draw more attention. Jamaal Charles would as well if he was still able to play.

But even though he’s in one of the biggest markets in the country, playing for one of the league’s icon teams, Forte is not a football household name, save for those who picked him up in a fantasy draft.

“Forte is a very, very good athlete in all respects,” head coach Todd Haley said. “To me, when you have somebody that appears so smooth, to me that generally translates to natural athleticism and then you add in that he’s a 4.4 (seconds in the 40-yard dash) guy, which is obviously excellent speed at the position for his size.

“When you’re watching tape you sometimes get lulled into thinking that this is just a good running back. He’ll lull you to sleep with the smoothness and his feet, very good feet which again comes back to athletic ability. He’s just a good football player. He’s the complete package. They’ve thrown it to him 70-some times or tried to get it in his direction 70-some times. They put him in a number of positions, so that tells me he’s probably pretty smart. He’s the complete package with top-end speed to turn the corner, to finish runs and 30-yarders become 70-yards and he does that pretty regularly.”

His numbers this year have been just as impressive as what he’s done in his first three seasons. Forte has run for 985 yards on 198 carries and caught 52 passes for 490 yards. He leads the NFL in total offensive yardage with 1,475 is tops in the league after 11 games. He has 17 plays of 20 yards or more, ranking with Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy for big plays out of the backfield.

Forte is another member of what has turned into quite a class of running backs that came into the league as rookies in 2008. He was selected in the second round with the 44th pick in the ’08 NFL Draft out of Tulane. Taken ahead of him were backs like Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, Rashad Mendenhall and Chris Johnson. Selected after him were backs like Rice and Charles.

Also part of that rookie group in 2008 was New England’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who went undrafted but has been very productive for the Patriots. Here’s a look at the backs drafted that year from the first through fifth rounds, and Green-Ellis and what they’ve done to date in the league:

Class of 2008 Running Backs

Back 

Team

Draft 

G/S 

Att 

Yds 

Avg 

LG 

TD 

Rec

Yds

TD

Darren McFadden 

OAK

1/4

45/32 

553 

2,627 

4.8 

70 

16 

116

1,191

4

Jonathan Stewart 

CAR

1/13 

57/11

676

3,181

4.7

67

24

70

630

2

  Felix Jones 

DAL

1/22 

43/13

399

2,022

5.1

60

8

85

692

1

Rashard Mendenhall 

PIT

1/23 

46/39

738

3,013

4.1

68

26

63

532

1

Chris Johnson 

TEN

1/24 

58/57

1,108

5,297

4.8

91

36

176

1,276

4

   Matt Forte 

CHI

2/44 

59/59

1,009

4,221

4.2

68

21

223

1,985

8

Ray Rice 

BAL

2/55 

56/44

847

3,735

4.4

60

20

228

2,068

4

Kevin Smith 

DET

3/64 

38/26

516

2,051

4.0

50

14

100

916

2

Jamaal Charles

KC

3/73 

49/19

499

3,027

6.1

80

12

117

1,046

6

Steve Slaton 

HOU-

MIA

3/89 

44/26

431

1,841

4.3

71

13

99

809

5

Tashard Choice 

DAL-WAS-BUF

4/122 

56/4

258

1,138

4.4

66

8

65

499

0

Ryan Torian

DEN-WAS

5/139 

19/13

234

1,003

4.3

54

6

22

144

2

Tim Hightower 

ARZ-WAS

5/149 

53/41

523

2,054

3.9

80

24

128

879

1

BenJarvus Green-Ellis 

NE

CFA 

48/20

479

1,982

4.1

33

25

23

207

0

Only Johnson has gained more yards rushing than Forte’s 4,221. Overall, the Chicago back has 6,206 offensive yards, again something only Johnson can top (6,573 combined yards.) Chiefs fans know what Charles has meant to the Kansas City offense and he’s produced 4,073 combined yards.

But the most impressive numbers on that chart for Forte comes under games played and games started. He’s been on the field for all 59 games the Bears have played since he was drafted. He’s not missed any games because of injury.

Whether it comes as a runner, a receiver or both, Forte is going to come hard against the Chiefs on Sunday. Last week he touched the ball 18 times for 84 yards; it was hardly the type of afternoon that the Bears and their fans expect from him.

The one thing Matt Forte has always done is produce – that’s this week’s challenge for Romeo Crennel and his defense.


3 Responses to “Chiefs Must Hold The Forte … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 3, 2011  - Chuck says:

    I think the weather will be a factor in this game.


  • December 3, 2011  - el cid says:

    Palko, no Charles or Berry, and our OL might be more of a factor?


  • December 4, 2011  - Kenny says:

    Forte is a complete stud. I hope this guy gets paid at the end of the year.




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