Is Matt Forte Headed for the Running Back Cliff?

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I did my best to plot the ESPN data and compare Forte to the pack of average NFL running backs.  Here’s how the numbers shake out:

chart_1 (1)


You can see that Forte trends above the average NFL running backs.  That’s why he’s a two-time Pro Bowler and earned a hefty contract a couple of seasons ago.  But given where the trend is going, it’s hard to imagine that Forte’s numbers are going to continue to rise.  If he follows the trend, his rushing yards would dip by 15% next season and 25% in two years.  By age 30, running backs drop off by 40% from their peak.  That’s a cliff alright.  

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Tags: Chicago Bears Matt Forte Running Back Cliff Running Backs

  • Erik Lambert

    It’s definitely a risk but Matt has always been great about keeping himself in prime physical condition. I think the Bears can lean on him this year, but I also think they should start investing more at the position the next couple drafts.

    • Mike “Boomer” Burzawa

      I think Forte can stall for another year or two and with his added contributions in the passing game, he’ll continue to be valuable. Time to add some young blood.

  • D$

    unless you’re looking at rounds 5 or 6, there are too many holes and too much age on defense to worry about drafting a backup to your pro bowl running back this year.

  • Johnathan Wood

    That article is flawed because it looks at total yardage. I would be much more interested in seeing yards per attempt, which measures how effective the backs are.

    Historically backs drop off at about 2400 touches in the NFL. Forte is at 1800, which says he has 2 years left. Right when his contract is up, conveniently.

    • Mike “Boomer” Burzawa

      I thought the same thing as you when I started researching this. But the main reason that total yardage is important is because guys break down and miss games. If you played Forte or Adrian Peterson half the amount of time, their yards per carry could increase but they’re not worth as much to their teams. Nagging injuries and missed time, thus less total yardage, are the underlying causes of the loss of productivity.

  • Gioscianna

    I hope he stays productive for two more years at least but the decline happens to everybody. Remember how good of shape Tomlinson kept himself in? Granted LT was used more than Forte of course, but Forte did carry the ball over 300 times for three consecutive seasons in college and his first 3-4 years with the Bears I know he averaged over 300 touches a season as well. Here’s hoping we can win it all before he’s done.