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posted: 11/25/2012 6:00 AM

Bears need to lean heavily on running back Forte

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  • Running back Matt Forte walks off the field after the Bears failed to convert on fourth down on their final possession during the loss to the Texans earlier this month.

    Running back Matt Forte walks off the field after the Bears failed to convert on fourth down on their final possession during the loss to the Texans earlier this month.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer


The truth is there is no perfect answer for the Bears if they don't find a few massive sandbags to plug the tumultuous flow through their offensive line.

Nevertheless, they can simplify things a bit and make Matt Forte the center of attention -- and the offense -- again.

Hand him the ball, toss him some flares, drop him some screens and make him the workhorse again.

That is why they paid him $32 million, right?

Forte has played nine games this year and he's at 641 yards rushing, down from 869 through nine games in 2011. That's a 71-per game average, compared to 96.5 last season.

He has 144 carries (16 per game) in nine games, down from 166 (18.4 per game) through the same number of games a year ago.

He's also down in receptions from 42 to 25 -- 2.7 per game this year, 4.77 last year -- and he has just 180 receiving yards compared to 439 this time last season.

Last year Forte had 1,308 total yards for a game average of 145, but in 2012 he has 821 total yards through nine games for an average of 91, a 54-yard per game difference.

Forte was getting 23 touches per game in 2011, and so far he's collecting 18 a game this season, which doesn't sound like much, but over nine games that's 45 fewer times working with the football.

Again, if you don't have an offensive line it doesn't matter much, but it's a lot easier to run block, or protect for a short pass, than it is five-step drops. So it can't hurt the Bears if they use Forte more and ask their line to pass block less.

It gets the ball out of the quarterback's hands, and that means fewer opportunities for the QB to get squished.

And at this point, a heavy dose of Forte might be just what Jay Cutler's doctor ordered.

Bounce back?

From week to week, it's difficult to understand NFL inconsistencies, but one hallmark of Lovie Smith teams is bouncing back after an embarrassing defeat, and the Bears were humiliated by the Niners on Monday night.

With the playoff race tightening in the NFC, this would be the time for the Bears to show up and play a solid football game. If they don't, you have to wonder where the 2012 season goes from here.

Henry Burris

As you think back on the fabulous legacy of Bears backup quarterbacks, you probably already know that Hammerin' Henry Burris topped the Canadian Football League this season with 5,367 yards passing, 43 TDs (vs. 18 INTs) and a 104.4 QB rating, while leading the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a sparkling 6-12 record.

Benet Academy's Dan LeFevour -- a Bears sixth rounder in 2010 -- is the third-string QB for Hamilton behind Burris and Boston College product Quinton Porter.

Draft stock

N.D. linebacker Manti Te'o deserves every bit of attention he's gotten this season, but Georgia's Jarvis Jones is an absolute monster, and he's going to be a popular name on 2013 NFL draft boards.

The line

Odds on winning the 2013 World Series: Tigers (6-1), Yankees (7-1), Giants (10-1), Rangers (12-1), Nationals (12-1), Angels (12-1), Phillies (14-1), Cardinals (14-1), Reds (14-1), Braves (14-1), Dodgers (18-1), Rays (20-1), Red Sox (22-1) and Diamondbacks (25-1).

The Blue Jays moved from 35-1 to 14-1 after their big trade with the Marlins, who fell from 40-1 to 100-1.

The White Sox are 28-1 and the only teams behind the Cubs (75-1) are the Indians (80-1), Twins (80-1), Rockies (90-1), Marlins and Astros (150-1)

Illini football

Sometimes I'm not certain I'm the dumbest human on the planet, but after I come to terms with the fact that I've watched two Illinois games start to finish this season, there's no longer any question about my ranking.

The quote

NFL Network's Warren Sapp: "Ndamukong Suh's game hasn't evolved. He needs to become a more complete player."

Best tweet

From @TheFakeESPN: "Tony Romo participated in Black Friday early Thursday, as his passing was 50 percent off."

Best headline

Sportspickle: "Big Ten changes name to 'Big 64,' insists it's done expanding."

And finally

Comedian Alex Kaseberg: "Do the Texans who want to secede know they have to take the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Astros with them?"

•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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