I'm sure we'll spend a good part of the summer discussing possibilities for the Chicago Bears' new backfield tandem of Matt Forte and Chester Taylor. General manager Jerry Angelo's comments on Forte, published Wednesday on the team's website, spurred some thoughts. I'd like yours as well.
First, here is what Angelo said about Forte and the impact of Taylor's arrival:
Matt looks exactly like he looked as a rookie. Remember, last year he spent the better part of the offseason rehabbing his hamstring, and that's behind him now. Matt has a lot of pride and a great work ethic. He wants to be a great player. There is no question that we're going to get the best of what Matt Forte is this season.
In terms of Matt sharing time with Chester Taylor, it's going to help both of them. The success we've had with the running game has been with a tandem backfield, and that's the case throughout much of the league. We feel very good about how they complement one another. Both are good three-down backs. Both are good runners, have very good hands and are good blockers. We feel very good about how they're going to work together.
Angelo hit on a key point. On paper, at least, the Bears should be able to create a faceless tandem. That's a good thing, and here's what I mean: Based on both players' history, there is no reason to classify either Forte or Taylor as the lead runner or the primary third-down back. Forte has been the Bears' feature back the past two seasons while Taylor played mostly on third downs for Minnesota, but Forte is just as talented of a receiver while Taylor might be a better inside runner.
Take a look at the chart accompanying this post. Only two NFL backs had more receptions last season than Forte, and that performance was no fluke. He caught 63 passes in his rookie season and has 120 receptions in two years.
Taylor has been a feature back for only one of his eight seasons, but he's more than capable of giving the Bears 150-200 carries this season. All told, offensive coordinator Mike Martz will have the unique opportunity to shuttle two different running backs without tipping the play call in any way.
This probably falls short of a traditional Have at It debate, but I'd like your feedback. Let me know how you think the Bears should use Forte and Taylor. As a traditional one-two punch? Splitting everything 50-50? How should they approach third downs? Who should finish the season with more carries, assuming both are healthy?
I'll review your submissions and publish some highlights, along with a few other ideas, later this week. I'm not sure if you'll Have at It, but by all means Get to It.