I'm sure I shocked a few of you by kicking off an honest-to-goodness football discussion that didn't include controversy, dissension or finger-pointing. Hey, I'm not a total cynic -- and I really do want to carry a season-long conversation about the way the Chicago Bears use tailbacks Matt Forte and Chester Taylor.
Many teams construct running back tandems with intentionally disparate talents, hoping to maximize flexibility. The Bears, however, have accomplished something that intrigues me more: Forte and Taylor are largely interchangeable. Vikingslave01 "still doesn't understand" that concept but I thought sashbin explained it well: " [Offensive coordinator Mike] Martz will enjoy the luxury of having 2 competent backs that can do all 3 things out of the backfield: run, block, catch."
So how should the Bears approach playing time and strategy? To me, they have the unique luxury of shuttling both players without tipping the play call. In Minnesota, for example, the Vikings faced the difficult challenge of not pigeon-holing Taylor as the receiver and Adrian Peterson as the runner. But if Taylor and Forte are as versatile as we believe they are, defenses would have to play them the same way. (At least until the Bears start establishing trends early in the season.)
Another advantage of this tandem, wrote mizzinu, is that it gives the Bears "a unique option to ride the hot back." If that's the case, Behr-34 envisions Forte getting 55-60 percent of the snaps. But, wrote Behr-34, "depending on who might have the hot hand, I'd like to see that ratio flip in that player's favor."
If I had to guess how it would go, I would take into strong consideration the quote that generated this post in the first place. It all began with Bears general manager Jerry Angelo saying Forte has returned to health after season-long hamstring and knee injuries. "Matt looks exactly like he looked as a rookie," Angelo said.
If that's the case, then I would agree with what Chad wrote on our rollicking Facebook page: "If Forte has his speed and burst back as has been reported a few times, he's the better play on a week to week basis. Given the ages and career carries, it would seem they can both keep about the same freshness, and careers would be longer, with a 60/40 to 70/30 Forte/Taylor split."
One thing I'm pretty confident of is that the Bears don't envision Taylor as a primary back. While he has relatively low mileage for a 30-year-old runner, Taylor has been a featured for only one season in his career. That year, 2006 in Minnesota, he broke down after 12 games. (Check the stats: Taylor had 1,098 yards in the Vikings' first 12 games and 118 yards after that.)
Let's put this one on our list for future tracking as soon as the future becomes the present. Or something like that.