LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Just a little over two months after he signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears, veteran receiver Roy Williams has come to the conclusion that Matt Forte is the most valuable member of the roster.
"Best player on this team ... on this team ... not just offense, on this team," Williams said Thursday. "Most valuable player on this team. He can catch it, he can run it, he can pass block, he can do it all. That's just one of those guys, you have to give him the ball. One way or another, you have to give him the ball."
Second in the league with 634 yards from scrimmage, Forte has topped 100 yards from scrimmage in seven of his past eight games dating back to last season. His 205 yards on the ground against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday is tied for the second most rushing yards in a single game in Bears franchise history.
Translation: Forte should be viewed as one of the top-five running backs in the NFL, according to Williams.
"He's very easily top five," Williams said. "I've been saying that every week. He's very easily top five. Like I said, he can run it, he can catch it, I'm just waiting on him to throw it. Let' see if he can throw it."
But Forte can't do it alone. The Bears offense is in desperate need for others to step up if the club wants to knock off the Detroit Lions on Monday night at Ford Field. The Lions (4-0) are in search of their first 5-0 start since 1956, after posting back-to-back come from behind wins against Minnesota and Dallas.
Selected by Detroit with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft, Williams failed to reach the postseason during his tenure with the Lions, and was traded to Dallas during the 2008 season, the same year Detroit went 0-16. After two more subpar years in 2009 (2-14) and 2010 (6-10), head coach Jim Schwartz has the Lions tied with the Green Bay Packers atop the NFC North heading into the pivital showdown with the Bears.
"They're 4-0 instead of being 0-4, that's the big difference,"Williams said. "They're getting used to winning. [It] used to [be] they couldn't win on the road, and in their first quarter they won three games on the road. When a football team can win on the road that consistently, they are a good football team."
Williams has seen the Lions get off to start once before. He was still a member of the Lions when former Detroit head coach and current Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli guided the club to a 6-2 start in 2007, only to see the wheels fall off in the second half of the season.
"We were sky high when we were 6-2 -- we finished 7-9 -- but we started out 6-2," Williams said. "It was pretty good, the fans were excited. So I know that they're very excited right now at 4-0. I don't know when the last time that ever happened. I know one reporter told me it was in the Billy Simms era. That was a long time ago.
"So I know the fans are excited. They truly deserve it. No offense to the Bears fans or Cowboys fans, but those fans are the most loyal fans I've seen, going through every thing they went through, but still showing up and the games and still cheering for their football team."