Matt Forte looks for running room as teammate Roberto Garza blocks Larry Foote. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
When looking at the Bears' offensive line, it's easy to judge them by one metric: sacks allowed. Keeping the quarterback safe and upright is the main job, but they also have the important role of opening up holes for running backs. In that category, Matt Forte gives the Bears' offensive line a good grade.
“A lot of people say to me, ‘Man, you did a great job this past year. What was the difference?’” Forte said Thursday night at an appearance in Westmont. “The offensive line. They blocked great, especially in the run game. So, if I can get great blocking up front and get me to the second and third level, get me one-on-one with the safety or a linebacker and you can make them miss, that is when you can get big plays. That’s what we did most of the year last year.”
He didn't say this as a rebuke of Jay Cutler's comments about the line needing work, as he pointed out that opening holes for a rusher and giving the QB a pocket to work from are very different jobs.
But there's no doubt Forte and the Bears benefited from the line's ability to give him a lane. Even with Forte's absence in the last four games of the season, the Bears averaged 125.9 rushing yards per game, ranking them ninth in the league. His 4.9 yards per carry average ranks him among the top 15 running backs in the league. The 83 yards a game he averaged is the best number of his career. If Forte had finished the season at that pace, he would have broken 1,300 yards.
Forte knows he could not have had that kind of year without the offensive line finding him daylight. Even though he's not practicing with the team, he is still sending a message to his offensive line. That message is, "Thank you."