Spotlight Shine: Ranking the RBs

Each week during the offseason, Tyson Qualls plans to analyze one position for the Chicago Bears to see how they measure up with the other 31 teams in the NFL. Where do Matt Forte and the RBs rank?

Summary
Matt Forte, Chester Taylor, Kahlil Bell, Garrett Wolfe, Adrian Peterson and Jason McKie will all be vying for a roster spot over the next few months. Similar to the situation in Tampa Bay, the Bears have numerous capable runners but lack a true superstar. Forte has the potential, but after experiencing a sophomore slump, it remains to be seen if he will get back on track. The recent acquisition of Taylor looks good on paper, but at 30, how much does he have left?

Strengths
Forte's ability to catch as well as run with the football provides an essential edge to the offense. If Forte can regain his confidence on the ground, he would be a likely candidate to follow in the mold of Brian Westbrook. As a multi-faceted threat, Forte has caught at least 50 passes in each of his first two seasons. Mike Martz's pass-happy playbook almost certainly will decrease carries across the board for the running backs. On the flip side, it will also dramatically increase their opportunities for catching the football. Forte is not in the same class as Marshall Faulk, but Bears fans can be certain that Forte will catch at least 60-70 passes in 2010.

Weaknesses
Forte was responsible for six fumbles during the course of the season, trailing only Adrian Peterson of the Vikings for the dubious league lead. An offense with a quarterback (Jay Cutler) that leads the league in interceptions and a running back that finishes second in fumbles will certainly struggle throughout the season.

Taylor made a big splash as the newest Bears running back, but his advanced age has to be a concern for fans. Fortunately, he has limited tread on his tires lost after backing up Peterson in Minnesota. Taylor is certainly an upgrade from the departed Kevin Jones, but it remains to be seen how Taylor will perform after hitting the dreaded three-zero.


RB Chester Taylor
AP Images: Charles Rex Arbogast

Potential
Forte has the chance to be a fixture on the Bears for years to come. In order to accomplish that, he must solve his inability to hold on to the football. Unlike Minnesota's Peterson, Forte lacks the skills necessary to make up for frequent fumbling.

Taylor will provide a great change of pace for Forte and alleviate some of the offensive pressure. Being able to rest Forte on third down will keep him fresh and allow him to punish the defense longer into the game.

Wolfe and Bell are serviceable backups with a fair amount of potential. If they are going to succeed, they must prove they can catch as well as run the ball. McKie is a long-time Bear who has played a full season only twice in his career. At 29, he still has a few solid years ahead, but staying on the field must be his No. 1 priority.

Final Word
There are many questions in need of answers entering the 2010 season. Is Bell a better option than Wolfe? Will the other Adrian Peterson remain with the team? The Bears have a variety of options, with Forte as the leading man. With so many bodies and not enough carries to go around, it would not be surprising to see a veteran like Peterson hit the road.

Forte and Taylor make a solid pair, but the rest are either injury-prone or unproven. If the Bears are going to continue to build a running game to help support Cutler, they need to either be patient with the development of Bell and Wolfe or allow Taylor to spell Forte as much as necessary.

Rank: 24th

The Chicago Bears currently rank 24th overall at the running back position. They are directly ahead of the Detroit Lions and one step behind the Oakland Raiders. As for the remainder of the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers are No. 11 and the Minnesota Vikings are No. 5. The Tennessee Titans hold the top position.


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Questions or Comments? Contact Tyson Qualls via Twitter @tysonqsports or send emails to tysonqsports@gmail.com.


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