Jeremy Langford Gets Opportunity as Chicago Bears Starter


Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

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With Matt Forte sidelined with a knee injury, it’s time to look into the Chicago Bears future.  Rookie running back Jeremy Langford is set to take the spotlight in prime time against the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football.  Langford will get his first start at tailback against a Chargers team that is rated second worst in the league against the run according to ProFootball Focus with a putrid -44.3 rating.  The Bears, by comparison, rank 12th with a +11.5 ranking.

The Bears selected Langford in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Michigan State.  Langford started as a defensive back, but moved to running back before his sophomore season.  He served as backup to Le’Veon Bell for the Spartans in that second season and never looked back.

Langford has been preparing to take the starters role since he was drafted.  He trained with Forte during the offseason program and has waited patiently with limited opportunity.  He’s appeared in seven games with 27 carries for 80 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  He also added two catches for 31 yards, but as Bears fans will remember, it’s the dropped pass to convert a third down that killed the Bears attempt to drain the clock in the Week 8 loss to the Vikings that will haunt Langford.

Langford gets the national spotlight in prime time to make his debut, but one TV in Westland Michigan would be tuned in regardless of the time or the stage.  The television of Jeremy’s father Jeffery will be breaking down every play and every opportunity.

"For as long as Jeremy can remember, his dad has been his teacher and his sounding board, the compass for his football career. A dash of wisdom and perspective is always a call away. So it was no surprise this week that Jeremy reached out for another reflective chat.The two talked at length about opportunities — the unpredictable ways they come about and the biggest keys to seizing them. Jeffery first reminded his son of the need to harness his excitement, to embrace this current moment while still retaining big-picture perspective.A breakthrough opportunity does not have to come with stifling pressure.“Don’t try to have a 1,000-yard season in one game,” Jeffery says. “Read the plays. Take what’s given to you. And be effective.”"

If Langford has a strong performance, it could pave the way for Forte’s exit.  Forte, who turns 30 in December, is a free agent after this season.  It’s clear that the Bears drafted Langford to succeed Forte at some point, but will that point come sooner rather than later?  If Forte is to return, it will have to be that both sides want it.  It would be nice to see Forte, who’s probably a top-three running back in Chicago Bears history, to return and retire as a Bear, but the price will have to be right.

We all know that running backs on the wrong side of 30, even ones as committed and dedicated to training as Forte is, will begin to lose a step.  You don’t want to overpay for past performance.  We’ve seen how that’s gone with other aging veterans and it’s a large part of how the Bears got to the rebuilding effort they’re in now.

Langford can’t worry about Forte’s future.  The future is now for Langford.  It’s up to him to seize the opportunity tonight against the Chargers.