The dog days of the offseason are finally behind us now that training camp is underway, just in time for our countdown of the Top 100 Chicago Bears of all time to really heat up. As we get closer to the season opener, we get closer to naming the #1 Chicago Bear of all time.
The Bears drafted RB Matt Forte out of Tulane in the 2nd round of the 2008 NFL draft. Tulane isn’t exactly a football powerhouse with only a few failed QBs (JP Losman, Patrick Ramsey, Shaun King) and one of the best kickers of all-time (Eddie Murray) as well-known alumni in the NFL. Forte shattered Tulane’s rushing records with 2,127 yards and 23 TDs as a senior. He had 5 200+ yard games and two 300+ games and was the only non-BCS nominee for the Walter Camp award for overall best college football player. Forte was a bit of a risk coming from a small school, but his dominant numbers were intriguing. The Bears were desperate for a running back having been led the season before by Ced Benson (674 yards, 3.4 ypc) and the “other” Adrian Peterson (510 yards, 3.4 ypc).
It didn’t take long for Forte to establish himself as the Bears starter and put questions about his small school background to rest. He started every game as a rookie and led the Bears with 1,238 rushing yards, 12 TDs, and 63 receptions. His 477 receiving yards was third on the team and his total of 1,715 yards from scrimmage broke Gale Sayers record (1,374) that had stood for 43 years. Forte also set Bears rookie records for carries, yards, and receptions. Forte basically become the heart of the Bears offense as a rookie and has been ever since. He hasn’t had less than 1,400 total yards in any of his six seasons becoming the first Bear ever to surpass 1,000 total yards in each of his first 6 seasons and only the 18th player ever to do it. Forte has been durable as well, missing only 5 games in six years.
In his 6 years with the Bears Forte has made the Pro Bowl twice (2011, 2013). His 2013 season was his best yet with the Bears; He finished with 1,933 total yards which was 4th in the NFL, he tied his career high with 12 TDs, and had a career high in both receptions (74) and receiving yards (594). It was the first year in Marc Trestman’s offense and Forte appears to be a perfect fit, it wouldn’t shock me if he broke his new career highs next season. Forte has racked up some pretty impressive rushing totals that already rank near the top of the Bears all-time records. He recently passed Neal Anderson in total rushing yards (6,666) and now trails only the great Walter Payton, he is 5th in rushing TDs with 35, and 14th overall in receiving yards but 2nd for running backs behind Walter again. In a franchise that has had some of the best running backs in NFL history, Forte is already the 2nd best statistically and shows no signs of slowing down.
What do you think of the ranking? Too high? Too low? I guess you’ll have to check back to see who finished ahead of him to judge for yourself. We’ll be counting down a different person each day as we inch our way to the September 7th season opener.