A weekly look at a player whose performance must improve in 2011.
Matt Forte exceeded most expectations (including my own) last season. His backup, on whom Chicago spent quite a bit of money, fell short.
The Bears need more from Chester Taylor. In fact, if this deep running back draft yields the Bears a value pick at the position, Taylor could find himself without a team if/when this lockout ever comes to a head.
Taylor didn't play well in his first season as a Bear. He averaged a measly 2.4 yards per carry and accumulated only 406 combined yards in 2010. Needless to say, that just isn't good enough -- especially considering how much Chicago has invested in the veteran running back.
The most rushing yards Taylor could muster in a game last season was 43, and that was on 18 carries and against the team that is scheduled to pick first in the upcoming draft, Carolina. Including that game, Taylor received double-digit carries on five occasions. In those games, he averaged an embarrassing 1.7 yards per attempt.
Of course, the Bears' offensive line was among the worst in the league, but this guy didn't produce a thing, and Chicago's run blocking was better than its ability to protect QB Jay Cutler.
Forte produced rather well behind the same blocking, averaging 4.5 yards per rush. In fact, I am having a difficult time coming up with a running back who had a worse 2010 season than Taylor. He will turn 32 during the 2011 season, and it is conceivable that we have already seen the best that Taylor has to offer and that his signing in Chicago will go down as a massive mistake.
I liked Taylor quite a bit when he was in Minnesota; he was an excellent complement to a very young Adrian Peterson, who was learning the game at this level and was unrefined in the passing game.
In a way, Taylor is too much like Forte -- but lesser in all regards. Taylor has been at his best when he can thrive on third downs and use his receiving skills. But Forte is the superior route runner and overall weapon in this department, which is of extra importance in Mike Martz's offensive scheme.
The Bears -- especially considering the weather and conditions in which they play -- might be better off with a more powerful and bigger complement to Forte instead of what Taylor brings to the table. Or even a real dynamic back in the Reggie Bush/Danny Woodhead mold that is as much wide receiver as he is running back. Such a player would give Martz even more play-calling options.
Any way you cut it, Taylor needs to step up in a big way.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.