2015 Chicago Bears Grades
The Chicago Bears will enter the 2016 NFL offseason with a big decision to make; should they re-sign running back Matt Forte or let him test the free agent waters.
The 2015 season saw the potential emergence of Jeremy Langford at the running back position, giving the Bears some hope that he can be the future star at the position. With the emergence of Langford, along with Ka’Deem Carey’s talent, it’s unlikely that Forte will return as the 30-year-old will be seeking his third contract in his NFL career.
Going into the season, the focus was solely on Forte. He was the focal point of the offense in 2014 under Marc Trestman as he had over 100 receptions as a running back. But in 2015, things changed. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase and head coach John Fox put the focus on running the ball and putting quarterback Jay Cutler in manageable situations. Forte’s role changed and the Bears didn’t rely on him as much in the passing game.
That started to change towards the end of the season as the Bears even used a three-back formation a few times in the final games. The Bears slotted Forte out as a receiver a few times as well.
While Langford is likely the long-term answer in Chicago, or at least they hope, there’s still some issues with his game. Then there’s the undersized Carey who struggled to get playing time in 2014 and came on towards the end of the 2015 season. Whatever the Bears want to do with the position moving forward will be interesting as they have options they can choose from.
If that was the last we’ve seen of Forte as a member of the Bears, then I just want to say thank you. The back out of Tulane has provided countless memories during his time in Chicago and despite never appearing in a Super Bowl, he had a successful career. The thing that makes Forte so special is that he’s been a focal point in numerous offensive systems in Chicago.
Since 2012, Jamaal Charles has accounted for 30.8 pct of Chiefs offense. Only Bears' Matt Forte has higher pct. in that time.
— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) October 12, 2015
Forte finished the season with just 898 yards rushing (a career-low), breaking a streak of three-straight years with at least 1,000 yards on the ground. To his credit, he did miss three games in which he likely would have hit the mark. He did hit the 1,000 yard from scrimmage mark as he had 389 yards.
The one thing that continues to be a problem with Forte is his inability to break open field tackles. It’s not just a thing we saw in 2015, but for the majority of his career as well.
This years struggles were highlighted by Forte’s injury and the Bears decision to give more looks to Langford and Carey. Still, Forte put together a solid season and potentially one final shot at getting a new contract in Chicago.
It’s easy to see why Langford is considered as Forte’s potential replacement right of the bat. The combination of his size and speed was on display several times this season as he finished with 537 yards on 148 attempts. He also found the end zone a total of seven times, including six on the ground.
While Langford showed some promising signs, he also struggled. He made rookie mistakes, which were expected, and is something he will need to work on heading into 2016. The Bears attempted to use Langford more in the receiving game and he had a few crucial drops along the way.
Overall Langford’s season was an impressive one and if the Bears do hand over the starting job to him, he could be there for years to come.
Carey’s workload saw an increase in 2015 compared to his rookie year in 2014.
This season Carey had a total of 43 attempts this season, compared to just 36 in 2014. That’s still not bad considering he was a third-stringer and was primarily used on special teams this season. Carey made the most of his playing time as he scored three total touchdowns on the season.
Going into the year Carey was on the roster bubble as many speculated he could be cut in favor of Langford. But Carey survived and provided enough value on Special Teams to be kept.