The Chicago Bears will report to Bourbonnais next week, and as part of our coverage of the team, Grizzly Detail will be diving into the team’s roster ahead of training camp.
We’re keeping things rolling today by taking a look at the running back position, which for the first time in recent memory is a serious question mark for the team.
For the first time in nearly a decade, the Bears won’t have Matt Forte in their backfield for the upcoming season, as the star is now under contract with the New York Jets.
With Forte, and his ability to be both a threat out of the backfield and in the passing game, out of the picture, the Bears will likely turn to more of a running-back-by-committee system, and that will likely start with second-year player Jeremy Langford.
During his rookie season with the Bears, Langford averaged 3.6 yards per carry as he rushed for 537 yards and six touchdowns for the team. He also had 22 receptions for 279 yards and one score in the passing game, giving fans some optimism that he can be the kind of dual threat back that Forte was during his tenure with the Bears.
The Bears’ roster is a bit thin in terms of experience at the running back spot, with Jacquizz Rodgers having the most experience out of any of the backs on the team.
Rodgers isn’t likely going to be the first option after Langford in the rotation, however. Rather, that role will go to some combination of rookie running back Jordan Howard and third-year player Ka’Deem Carey.
Howard is a big, bruising back that will give the Bears a versatile weapon that can pound in tough carries from the goal line and knock down linebackers and safeties in open space. There are questions about his ability to block on the pass rush and whether or not he has the durability to make it through the grind of a 16-game NFL season (he missed four games during the 2015 campaign at Indiana), but he is definitely going to get some looks in Dowell Loggains’ offense.
Carey is going to get some looks too, but special teams limitations could end up hampering his chances of getting a lot of time. He appeared in 10 games for the Bears in 2015, rushing for two touchdowns and catching another one out of the backfield, and while it’s not clear what his role will be, he has shown an ability to produce a bit in limited touches.
What to Watch For:
While some positions are pretty set in stone for the Bears, the running back spot isn’t one of them. Seeing how John Fox and company put together the workload among the main backs is going to be a fascinating narrative to watch in the preseason.
Will Langford get the lion’s share of the carries? Will Howard hop onto the field with Langford for two-back sets? Will Carey see a bigger role this season than he has in past years with players like Forte ahead of him on the depth chart?
All of those questions are begging for answers, and once the Bears take the field in Bourbonnais and in their first preseason games, fans will have a clearer idea on what the team intends to do in the first year of the post-Forte era.