“Counterparts to be counted on” is a 32-part series where we the “Front Office” of couchpotatogm.com analyze one offensive player and one defensive player on each team that MUST have a particularly strong individual season in 2015 for their respective teams to have a successful 2015 campaign. The ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl but a successful season doesn’t always result in hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. No matter what “you” consider to be a success these counterparts are essential to achieving that goal.
Chicago Bears “Counterparts to be counted on” 2015
Matt Forte – Any Bears fan would tell you that the best and most reliable player they have on their roster is none other than Matt Forte. If you disagree with that statement let me be the one to tell you, “If the Bears want to win games the offense needs to go through Forte.” In what might be the most un-heralded and overlooked running back since entering the league in 2008 Forte will once again be the key to the Bears’ success. Some may argue that Jay Cutler is who the Bears are counting on the most this upcoming season but in my opinion Forte should be the guy the new Bears’ coaching staff should lean on early and often.
In two seasons under Marc Trestman, who is known for improving passing games, Forte caught 72 and a NFL record 102 passes in 2013 and 2014 respectively. The Bears’ running back only eclipsed 20+ carries in only 3 games last season which allowed quarterback Jay Cutler to drop back and throw 561 passes, which IS NOT a formula for success. Enter new head coach John Fox and his offensive coordinator from Denver Adam Gase as they look to be more balanced offensively while grinding out games featuring Forte as their bell cow. More rushing attempts and counting on Forte in the traditional sense will in turn make Cutler a better quarterback who is less likely to make bone head decisions by throwing his usual head scratching interceptions. It is very easy to get enamored by the big play threats the Bears possess on the outside with Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, and Martellus Bennett all measuring at least 6’3 and taller, but the coaching staff needs to stay the course and get Forte 25+ carries each game. Entering his last season of his 4 year contract while also pushing 30 years old, Matt Forte is the counterpart to be counted on offensively for the Chicago Bears.
Pernell McPhee – The Swiss army knife Pernell McPhee cashed in this offseason getting $39 million over 5 years from the Chicago Bears after only starting in 6 career games over his four year tenure with the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens’ defense played McPhee all over the field as he played nose tackle, the 5-technique defensive end, and the pass rushing 3-4 outside line backer backing up Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. His versatility and production (7.5 sacks, 64 QB pressures, 24 QB hits) for a top line Ravens’ defense made him a sought after free agent. Now the question is, can he replicate this performance being the main guy in a full time role for a Bears defense who ranked 30th in defense the last two seasons?
The Ravens have traditionally built up situational/role players within their stout defense. The catch is, once those players depart from Baltimore after receiving big pay days elsewhere, they never replicate their production. Players such as Edgerton Hartwell, Jarret Johnson, Dannell Ellerbe, Cary Williams, and Arthur Jones were products of the Ravens’ system. It will be up to McPhee to break that stigma and lead the Chicago Bears’ defense back to the glory days of Lovie Smith, Brian Urlacher, and Lance Briggs. It will start by McPhee setting a tone and leading by example with his violent and intimidating presence lined up at multiple positions on the Bears’ new look Vic Fangio 3-4 defense. If the Bears want to head back to the playoffs the defense will be key along with Forte and the ground game and that is why Pernell McPhee is the counterpart to be counted on for the new look Chicago Bears defense.