Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte was on pace for his best season as a professional before a sprained MCL cost him the final four games this year. It was his second season in former offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system, one that made a Hall of Famer out of Marshall Faulk. Yet Forte isn't too worried about having to move on to his third offensive coordinator in his first four years in the NFL.
"Change is good in some situations," Forte told FOXSports.com. "Coach Martz was a great offensive coordinator. He was a great evaluator of talent and knowing how to use it on the field on offense. Hopefully the guy that we get in to go over the passing with does the same thing."
Forte finished the year with 997 rushing yards on 203 carries, good for 4.9 yards per carry, the highest average of his four-year career. He also caught a team-high 52 receptions for 490 yards. He said he has faith that new offensive coordinator Mike Tice will be able to build a system that fits his abilities as both a runner and a pass catcher.
RB Matt Forte
Rob Grabowski/US Presswire
"Coach Tice is going to step in and do a great job," said Forte. "The running game is going to be basically the same. He may add a little twist here and there. He's a great offensive line coach, offensive coordinator as well, and a great run-game coach all over. Hopefully the offense stays on the same page and that we can continue to run the ball pretty well."
Forte becomes an unrestricted free agency this offseason. He and his agent, Adisa Bakari, were never able to reach a contract extension working with former GM Jerry Angelo. Forte hopes he'll be able to work out a deal with the new GM in the next few months, before the team is forced to place the franchise tag on him.
"Hopefully, now it being the offseason, there's a lot more type to negotiate that type of deal. Hopefully, we can get one done. Not just because there's a new GM coming in but just because there's more time to negotiate. I played well during the season before my injury and I showed my value."
The sprained MCL is healed, Forte said, and he's looking forward to playing in his first Pro Bowl – a move some are questioning, considering the potential to re-injure his freshly healed knee in a meaningless contest.
"I'm healthy. I feel healthy," he said. "I feel good enough to go out there and play in it so I want to play in it."
There is wide speculation that this year will be coach Lovie Smith's last in Chicago, unless the team is able to make a serious run at a championship. According to Forte, that wouldn't be a popular move in the locker room.
"Everybody on the team respects and loves coach Lovie. He's well respected around here and we know he's a great coach," he said. "I expect him to be back, especially if we continue to win like we were earlier in the season, before we had a bunch of injuries."
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.