A few days ago, Mike Burzawa, wrote an article on Matt Forte heading for the running back cliff. Mike made some valid points about the potential of Forte’s abilities diminishing and the need for the Bears to find another running back. When I finished reading the article what flashed through my mind was the Curse of 370 and the impact it might have on Matt Forte.
If you are not familiar with the Curse of 370, I will give a brief overview and of course the internet has loads of articles on it. In its basic form, the Curse states when a running back has over 370 touches (running plays combined with passing receptions) in a given year, the following season there will be a drop off in performance.
There is plenty of empirical data to support it, and of course, there are those exceptions that debunk it. I am not here to debate its validity, there is enough data to support its plausibility. What I do want to talk about is how the Curse could impact Forte going into 2014 and how he has been a victim of it already.
Back in 2008, Forte’s rookie season he hit the NFL scene in a big way. He accrued 1715 yards from scrimmage, of that was 1238 yards rushing, had 12 touchdowns. He had a stellar rookie season but he also had 379 touches. The Curse wasted no time and visited Matt during the 2009 season. He played and started in all 16 games, during 2009, but his performance suffered.
His yards from scrimmage dropped to 14oo yards, this drop was at the expense of rushes for his reception yardage was almost equal to the year before. Granted he had 58 less touches in rushing, but if he had equalled his 2008, 3.9 per carry, he would have exceeded 1000 yards rushing. Where the curse really impacted Forte, is he went from 12 touchdowns to four and had six fumbles! There was little doubt the Curse of 370 bit Matt Forte.
Over the next three seasons, 2010 – 2012, Matt’s performances were steady, never saw the workload he did in his rookie season and struggled with an injury in 2011, missing 4 games. Then the Trestman era dawned in 2013, and Matt had a sensational season. It was like his rookie season all over again.
Forte finished with 1933 yards from scrimmage, the most since 2008. Had more yards from scrimmage and receiving than any other season and had 12 touchdowns and only one fumble. How many touches did he have? 363, just shy of the cursed 370! Even though, he missed the magic number by seven, is he immune from another visit?
There is little doubt Matt had a resurgence under Trestman’s offense, but the reality of being older, 29 during 2014, the effects of the heavy workload and a tougher schedule could leave open another infection of the Curse of 370. This is not to imply, that the Bears need to move away from Forte, quite the contrary. What they do need to do is making his longevity a priority. To do that it is time for the Bears to work in another running back to share the load.
I don’t think it is lost on any of us, that the Bears see having another running back is important. With the recent tryouts of three veteran running backs. Having De’Anthony Thomas of Oregon in for a visit, and the road trip to work out Wisconsin’s James White, indicates that a running back is a high on the agenda. They also need to give Ford more exposure so they can judge his capabilities better.
If the Bears want to give immunity to Matt from the Curse of 370, maximize his abilities as he approaches the other side of 30, then it is time to split the workload with another running back. There are plenty in this draft, so its not like a panic button has to be hit, but if they don’t secure the future and rely on Forte to be the bell cow, then they do risk another bout of the Curse of 370.
It’s going to be a busy draft, but the Bears can’t ignore the future of their running back. Better to do it now, then wait till the Curse haunts Forte again.