"He's fantastic," Clutts said. "It was a real clinic in how to perform in this league. When I was not out there, I watched every single move that Matt made. He's a quiet and modest guy so you won't hear him bragging about how good he is. Heck, he doesn't need to. Just watch his game film. That's all the demonstrating you need. If I can come anywhere near his level of ability, then I'll feel that my career has been a success."
Forte was the Bears' most dangerous weapon against the Atlanta Falcons this afternoon, racking up 68 yards rushing, 90 yards receiving and a touchdown. He was credited by his teammates with providing the spark that jump started the offense.
RB Matt Forte
"You can't help but get enthusiastic about this team when you have the chance to see Matt Forte out there," said WR Johnny Knox, who himself amassed 60 receiving yards. "To me this team doing well means that every single aspect has to be in sync. I think that happened today. I'm sure when we have the chance to look at today's stats, we'll see that this was a group effort, with Matt leading the way. It was a great way to begin the season."
Forte deflected any talk that his performance was geared toward reaching a lucrative contract with the Bears.
"If the Bears don't understand what I can do by this point, then they never will," Forte said. "So, no, I wouldn't say that I was trying to make a statement like ‘get me a big contract right now.'"
Forte prefers instead to focus on the task at hand, which is to prepare for New Orleans and Green Bay in the next few weeks.
"Hey, this wasn't the Super Bowl today," Forte laughed. "We showed some good things. I think I was able to show some good things. This revealed the character of our team so far. But there's plenty left to work on. Remember, it's a long season ahead of us."
Whether it's necessary for Forte to come out every game and prove his worth is open for debate but it's clear that the running back is not letting contract negotiations distract him while on the field.
"This has been going on for a while," Forte said. "That isn't a situation I would necessarily have chosen, but there it is. My mind is completely in the game on Sundays. That's as it should be.
"If the Bears haven't notice my worth by now, I'm not sure when that will happen. Any special plays that I might come up with won't change that because they see me every day in practice. That's where your day-to-day skills show. I am confident we will get this done. But if it doesn't happen, I feel that some other teams around the league might value my services."
For Clutts, that would be a worst case scenario.
"It's such a privilege for me to be here at this level and to have the opportunity to learn form somebody like Matt," Clutts said. "He's a leader in every way. I hope he's with this team for years to come."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.