In case you haven't heard, running backs usually catch a lot of passes when Marc Trestman is calling the plays. Throughout his history as an offensive coordinator in the NFL, at least one of his running backs has been amongst that team's leaders in pass receptions.
In Trestman's West Coast system, where the ball is supposed to come out in the first two seconds after the snap, the running back plays a crucial role as an underneath option. For Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte, that's music to his ears.
"I'm very excited," Forte said today. "We went over the offense, basically the entire playbook, in the spring and just in the parts that we have on the offense and now the plays that we have now that incorporate me in the passing game is going to be something that I'm looking forward to."
Similar to the way in which the New England Patriots use their receivers, quick passes under Trestman will equate to nothing more than a long handoff. Yet by moving running backs before they get the ball, it puts first-string guys like Forte in a better position to gain yards.
"It's a different way of actually kind of like running the ball," said Forte. "After you catch it you've got to run with it. So instead of handing it off you get the ball out in space and that just gives you more opportunity to make big plays."
"It's not really a new role. It's not like I haven't done it before. I'm just excited about getting back to getting out of the backfield and running routes and stuff and catching balls and not only just running the ball, getting handoffs, but getting the ball out in space, just spreading the ball around."
In the run game, Forte is looking forward to running behind an offensive line that doesn't consist of a bunch of moving parts, as it did under former offensive coordinator Mike Tice.
"I think we're going to be a lot more solid up front," Forte said. "We have five guys who are going to be up front. It'll work its way out in camp who's going to be starting. But just to have a solid five guys up front instead of having parts changing in and out … we've had guys from tackle move to guard and then move in the middle of the season to the other side of the ball, which is difficult. Those guys have to be play together and get in a groove with each other, knowing where to block and how the other player next to him blocks. To have five solid guys up front I think is going to really help us out on the front line."
If all goes according to plan, Forte believes he can be the league leader in multiple statistical categories this season.
"Every year at the least, bare minimum, [my goal is] 1,000 yards rushing," he said. "I know whatever comes after that, catching the ball and all that stuff, will come after that. I don't really set a specific number. I just want to get as much as possible. One of the main goals is to actually lead running backs in all the categories: catching the ball, receiving touchdowns, all that stuff. If I can do that that means I'm doing good."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.