The League

Zach Leibowitz
Sideline Reporter

Zach Leibowitz

A former sideline reporter for ESPN

Force with Forte


After the first 10 minutes of the opening weekend in September, I thought Eagles WR DeSean Jackson was the runaway favorite -- literally. By week two on Monday Night, he showed the same swagger in Dallas, but then inexplicably spiked the football short of the endzone. So while Jackson was a great pick for the Eagles, I now consider him a spike short of the smartest non-first round pick in 2008.

With that, I give you Chicago RB Matt Forte. The mid-second round Bears rookie is 7th overall in league rushing at 641 yards, 4 TD and no fumbles. He's ahead of the likes of Brian Westbrook, Frank Gore, LaDainian Tomlinson and Steven Jackson. Fellow rookie Chris Johnson of Tennessee is the only RB statistically ahead of Forte who has not fumbled. But, Johnson was a late first-rounder, so he's ineligible for this discussion. All you need to know is last season, Chicago's leading rusher for the season was Cedric Benson. The now former Bears RB posted 674 total yards, and 4 TD for the entire season.

At 5-3 and in sole possession of first place in the NFC North, the Bears have relied as much on their offense as they have their defense in '08. Chicago ranks third in conference scoring, and are 3-0 in divisional play. Forte's emergence, not only as a solid rusher but receiver and blocker as well, has opened the field for QB Kyle Orton. With his recent injury, Forte will be relied on even more now. Upcoming games vs. Tennessee and at Green Bay will further spotlight Forte's importance to his team and respect garnered from his opponents. Not bad for a former Tulane RB whose teams went a combined 15-31 in his four years and who didn't emerge as a NFL candidate until his breakout senior season.

The drafting of Forte has already begun to heal the disappointment of the Benson debacle at 4th overall in 2005. His presence is the top reason for Chicago's ascent to the top of the division standings to this point in the season. He is still a rookie and mistakes will be made -- just ask the Eagles' young WR -- but the quicker-than-expected rise to the upper echelon of NFL RB's has solidified the '08 Bears, and made the front office breathe a bit easier.

By Zach Leibowitz  |  November 6, 2008; 12:18 PM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Anything that happens in Chicago is by pure chance. They have a coach who probably rode the short bus most of his life, a QB who seems the opposite of a QB, not much of an offense or defense. And yet they have a winning record.

Which should be comforting. I means that by pure change, you can have a team that looks better than average by pure chance.

Posted by: Dr. Obvious | November 7, 2008 4:24 AM

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