(Insert "______ is Matt's forte" joke here)
You know, I figure that, like always, I'll get this thing going up until the offensive line, by which point I'll just get sick of the nerdery, and realize I got better stuff I need to do. I have a car that needs fan belts replaced and a cat that needs insulin, for Christ's sake. But for now, oh god damn, we bloggin'~!
RUNNING BACK: The position that they figured would pick up the slack of the quarterbacks and wide receivers over the last 89 years.
All-Time Favorite: Neal Anderson (1986-1993)
The sexy pick here would have been Walter Payton, seeing as he was basically Chicago Football Jesus, but let's be honest here, I only started really paying attention to football beyond an "oh, that crazy Refrigerator Perry, what will they think of next?" level until about 1986 or so, which means I really only got about a year and a half of watching the dude play. And Neal Anderson was about as good a replacement as you could have hoped for, putting together three straight 1,000-plus yard seasons and four Pro Bowl appearances, and in a world where Barry Sanders had never existed, he would have probably been the most exciting player to watch in the league over at least a couple of those years. He had punt returner moves, track star speed, and wide receiver hands, and had absolutely no problems just lowering his head and pounding the shit out of any defensive player who got in front of him. In the end, though, he remains mainly a cautionary tale to remind the current Bears staff that it might not be a fabulous idea to keep just basing the entire offense around Matt Forte. It only took Neal about three years as a starter before he started to break down physically, and that fiend Dave Wannstedt was only too eager to dump him off as quickly as possible and replace him in 1994 with Lewis Tillman, a career backup who had a pretty nice 1993 season as an injury replacement for Rodney Hampton in New York, but that year proved to be like a blind squirrel finding a horseshoe in a dog's ass or however it is the saying goes, because Tillman was pretty goddamn dreadful in Chicago. But to put a happy ending on this tale, apparently Neal owns a dang peanut farm now, which in my largely peanut-based world is the equivalent of Ernie Sims owning a monkey. Perhaps he feeds it Neal Anderson's peanuts from time to time.
All-Time Most Hated: Cedric Benson (2005-2008)
Cedric Benson came into Chicago with as much hype as could be humanly possible, immediately earning a few Payton comparisons, based solely on the fact that he too was drafted fourth overall. Yes, the pain of recent years, with Rashaan Salaam's bong resin-greased fumble-fingers, Curtis Enis and his backwards-bending knees, Anthony Thomas and his... two one-thousand yards seasons and Rookie of the Year award, and Thomas Jones... and the way he... looked like an absolute superstar on a team quarterbacked by Craig Fucking Krenzel. So okay, maybe the Bears were already two-deep at the running back position at that point, but man, Benson was just so good, just an absolute can't-miss prospect! Until he... Cried, as in absolutely wept, about being disrespected moments after being drafted fourth overall. And held out for more money, missing the entire preseason. And guaranteed that he'd be the starter by week three, in a season where Thomas Jones had the best season anyone not named Payton ever had for the Bears, and never even came close to losing the starting job. And averaged 3.2 yards per carry, once Jones got traded to the Jets for some beaded necklaces and a pouch of magic beans. And brashly declared that the Bears would be "wasting their time" if they brought in another running back for competition, en route to being arrested twice in a few months, fulfilling the legal requirements for him to become a member of the Cincinnati Bengals Penal Colony. The worst part of all this is that I'm sure I'm leaving out soooo much, like the time in college when he broke into someone's house to retrieve his stolen TV that ended up not actually being his TV, but he got away with it, because it's BIG TIME TEXAS FOOTBALL WOO and all. Cedric Benson might have been the biggest crybaby, headcase, and asshole the Bears have had since I've been old enough to pay attention, and that's saying something. Personally, I blame Tomczak.
The Current Situation: Matt Forte, Garrett Wolfe, and Adrian Peterson
Last year, Matt Forte stormed into town and took the damn place over, leading the Bears in receptions, setting a new team rookie rushing record, and most importantly, erasing the stupidity of drafting Benson and trading Jones. We finally got our guy, the best they've seen since Neal Anderson himself, and he's neither a headcase nor a cripple. He's not particularly exceptional in any of the big three categories of speed, moves, or power, but he's damn good at all three of them, and he can both block and catch, which were two things his predecessor seemingly outright refused to do. So glory goddamn hallelujah, Matt Forte is the man. At least until they give him the ball 450 times this year and end his career eight years too soon, a scenario made even more horrifyingly probable by the torn ACL of the guy who was supposed to share the load this year, snakebit former Lion (I sense a pattern there...) Kevin Jones. So for the glorious promised land to be ours, the Bears have to figure out how to give the ball to the other two backs on the roster every now and then, and I really can't trust them to even try, at this point.
Garrett Wolfe has shot up the depth chart from #4 to #2 this year, and it's about time he started getting some time on offense, because the dude is what you call "a weapon," a Reggie Bush type who could never, ever be counted on as a full-time back, but when slipped in the right situations and given some room to run with, he's a threat to pick up twenty-to-fifty every time he touches the ball. And that's the whole problem he's had so far. Ron Turner is the Bears' offensive coordinator, and as I've probably mentioned, the sole reason he has a job is because he's the brother of the guy who figured out that running Emmitt Smith through a ten yard wide hole might be a good idea. So the best he's come up with so far is to run all three-foot-six and forty-seven pounds of Wolfe up the middle, like he's Earl Goddamn Campbell. Because ever running back has to have by-god POWER, and that's why we need a bruiser in there, a guy like Cedric B- oh yeah. I expect Wolfe to last maybe five games this year, going down after being run up the middle three times against the Williams Wall again, and he'll resurface somewhere like New England, where he'll catch a hundred passes every year. The hurting never stops.
Behind him, as always is the original Adrian Peterson, a guy who, despite looking like a muscular Whoopi Goldberg, runs with the same type of demonic hatred as the guy from up north who has that same name, but just not as well. He's been around a long time by modern NFL standards, and after they pretty much declared him a non-factor on offense after 2007 and had pronounced him all but cut before Jone's ankle gave out, he'll probably have something to prove this year. I'm guessing this will get at least a couple poor bastards run over, but not enough to matter, as I fully expect them to continue last year's "run Forte until the wheels fall off of him" strategy to continue. So all I have left to say is just to remind people once and for all that when you call a dude "A.P." that refers to this Adrian Peterson, since he's had that name locked down for close to a decade now. The proper lettering for the good Adrian Peterson is "A.D.," referring to that "All Day" nickname they laid on him a few years back. Just thought I'd point that out, because it never hurts to help.
NEXT TIME: (once again, if I bother to continue this way) FULLBACKS and probably WIDE RECEIVERS