Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 22 Days with Matt Forte

Chicago Bears, Matt Forte
Chicago Bears, Matt Forte / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Chicago Bears, Matt Forte
Chicago Bears, Matt Forte / Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Forte shines as Chicago Bears lead back

In his first year with the team, Forte quickly beat out the other running backs on the roster and became the team's week one starter. In 16 games as the team's starter, Forte finished his rookie season with just over 1,700 total offensive yards and 12 touchdowns en route to ending the season as the fourth-place vote-getter for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He was named to the All-Rookie team after finishing the year third in the league in yards from scrimmage.

This level of production would become the norm for Forte, especially over the first couple of seasons of his career. In his second season, Forte accumulated exactly 1,400 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns. In the following season, his over 1,600 yards and nine touchdowns helped the team qualify for the 2010 playoffs, where the Bears advanced to the NFC Championship game before losing to the Green Bay Packers.

Following the team's playoff run, the Chicago Bears as a unit were never able to recapture their success with Forte on the roster, although the Tulane product did help keep the offense relevant across the NFL. With a special teams unit led by Devin Hester and a defense that included several stars in Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman, Julius Peppers, and many more, Forte was one of the offense's biggest leaders on and off the field. In 2011, the back made his first Pro Bowl after recording nearly 1,500 yards and four touchdowns in just 12 games.

In 2012, the team's last season under head coach Lovie Smith, Forte had a similarly productive season despite missing the Pro Bowl at the end of the year. In 15 games, the back totaled over 1,000 yards on the ground and recorded six total touchdowns. At the end of the season, Smith was fired despite posting a 10-6 regular season record, and the front office opted to replace him with a more offensive-minded coach in Mike Trestman.

Under Trestman, Forte enjoyed some of the best seasons of his career despite general team struggles. In 2013, Forte was selected to his second Pro Bowl after finishing the campaign with 1,933 all-purpose yards, the most in his career, and 12 touchdowns. The following year, Forte again had an incredible year, highlighted by an all-purpose yardage total of over 1,800, the second-high total in his career. After the year, Trestman was fired and replaced by John Fox, marking the third head coach in Forte's Chicago Bears career.