Tag:Matt Forte
Posted on: November 6, 2011 10:27 am
 

Report: Eagles, McCoy negotiating new contract

Could McCoy get paid before Rice and Forte? (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Running backs Ray Rice and Matt Forte came into the season looking for new contracts. Both players are integral to the success of their respective offenses, and both are in the final year of their rookie contracts. It also appears like both could receive the franchise tag after the season (they can thank Chris Johnson's no-show effort in 2011 for that).

One running back who could be in the money in the near future: the Eagles' LeSean McCoy. A league source tells PFT.com's Mike Florio that Philly and McCoy have been quietly negotiating a contract that would replace his rookie deal, which expires after 2012.

McCoy, who has rushed for 754 yards and scored six touchdowns through eight weeks, is making $525,000 this season. He's also averaging 5.6 yards per carry and is coming off his best peformance of the year, a 185-yard, two-touchdown effort against the Cowboys.

The great irony: two teams that rely heavily on their running games -- the Ravens and Bears -- appear to be in no hurry to pay their workhorse backs while the pass-happy Eagles could be in the process of extending McCoy.


After a win over the Cowboys last week, the Philadelphia Eagles look to repeat this week as they host the Chicago Bears at Lincoln Financial Field. NFL.com's Pat Kirwan and Jason Horowitz break down this Monday night matchup. 

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Posted on: November 3, 2011 10:13 am
 

Keep an Eye on: Week 9's finer points of analysis

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Eagles vs. Bears
You could make a strong case that both of these offenses are built around their star running backs. The Eagles have football’s No. 1 offense and lead the league with 179 yards rushing per game (20 more than Oakland’s No. 2 ranked ground game). Running back LeSean McCoy is second in the NFL with 754 yards rushing. The Bears’ 16th-ranked offense would likely rank somewhere in the mid-twenties if not for Matt Forte’s 672 yards on the ground and 419 yards through the air.

These are the best two running backs in the NFC not named Adrian Peterson. (And both are significantly better receivers than Peterson.) Two years ago, neither was very good. McCoy was a callow, unpolished rookie who could not always read basic defenses. Forte was an inexplicably sluggish runner averaging just 3.9 yards per carry. So what’s changed since then?

One noticeable improvement is in both players’ lateral agility. Though not as emphasized as speed, quickness or power, lateral agility is the most important attribute for an NFL back. It’s often the difference between college runners and pro runners. In short, lateral agility is a running back’s quickness and explosiveness when going left and right. It plays a central role in how he sets up blocks and creates his own space.

Unless you’re an incredibly gifted downhill runner playing behind a decent run-blocking front (ala Darren McFadden), lateral agility is vital in the NFL, where holes close quicker than a hiccup and defenses feature 11 world class athletes, most of whom can immediately diagnose about 90 percent of the run plays they see.

McCoy has the best pure lateral agility in the league. He had it as a rookie but just recently learned to implement it with timing and purpose. He can explode left and right behind the line or at the second level. Most laterally agile running backs, including Forte, have to be on the move in order to cut sharply. McCoy can do it from a standstill (which is why Philly is so fond of draws and delayed handoffs). Forte can occasionally do it from a standstill, though with his smooth, patient running style, he’s much more effective off motion.

On Sunday, keep a count of how many of McCoy’s and Forte’s touches are impacted by their east-west prowess.



Patriots vs. Giants
The key to the Giants’ upset of the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII was the pressure the Giants pass-rush put on Tom Brady. New York’s then-defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, brilliantly had his linebackers crowd and attack the A-gaps. That did a few things.

For one, it put extra defenders directly in Tom Brady’s line of vision, which would make any quarterback subtly feel a bit hurried. That hurriedness left New England without enough time to run Randy Moss on deep routes.

Another thing it did was force the Patriot running backs to stay in and pass protect. And because there were multiple defenders crowding the A-gaps, the Patriots focused their protection help inside, which left one-on-one mismatches outside for Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora.

Some things have changed in the four years since 18-1. Spagnuolo is now in St. Louis. Moss is retired. So is Strahan. The Patriots’ high-powered passing game has become horizontal instead of vertical. But despite the changes, don’t be surprised if the Giants once again crowd and/or attack New England’s A gaps this Sunday.

Teams like the Jets, Cowboys and Steelers have shown that the best way to pressure Brady is with bodies up the middle. The goal is not always to sack him – it can be to mentally preoccupy him with what’s going on inside. When Brady’s doing that, he seems to lose a little trust in stepping into throws and sensing his protection on the edges.

The Giants had great success with A-gap blitz concepts against the Dolphins last week. Mathias Kiwanuka is a potent defensive end who happens to play linebacker. He’s natural standing up over the center in nickel defense. Lately, end Dave Tollefson, himself a good athlete, has also been used as an A-gap blitzing joker. In these instances, the Giants don’t just rush the A-gaps, they also confuse offensive linemen and set up stunts and edge-rushes for Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora.

New England’s answer to New York’s A-gap attacks will be quick passes in the flats. Wes Welker is not a bad guy to turn to for that.

Chargers vs. Packers
Green Bay can take the lipstick off the pig that is San Diego’s defense. The No. 1 ranked defense from 2010 has been decent but not necessarily impressive under new coordinator Greg Manusky in 2011. A soft schedule has made it difficult to pass full judgment. The Chargers rank sixth in yards allowed, but they’ve faced the Vikings, Dolphins, Broncos, Jets and Chiefs (twice) – all inexplosive offenses.

The Packers have the most lethal offensive attack in football. It’s not just that Aaron Rodgers has been nearly flawless, or that his top five receiving targets would all be No. 1 or 2 targets on a typical team. It’s that the Packers have perhaps the best formation variation in the league. This, with their array of weapons, strongly tests a defense’s depth, intelligence and confidence.

Currently, the Chargers are vulnerable at cornerback. Antoine Cason appeared on the verge of stardom late last year, but the ’08 first-round pick has reverted to the baffling inconsistencies that marred his first two seasons as a pro. Cason normally plays the right outside. The Packers love to create one-on-one matchups for Greg Jennings by lining him up as the X-iso receiver on the left side (across from the right cornerback) in 1x3 receiver sets. It’s a matchup Rodgers goes to virtually every time.

With four receivers on the field, Cason will have to play. Marcus Gilchrest and Quentin Jammer are the outside starters; Dante Hughes is the slot nickel. The Chargers like to blitz Hughes and will likely align him across from the receiver furthest inside on the three-receiver side. Jammer plays outside on the defensive left. That leaves either Cason or Gilchrest, a second-round rookie, to face Jennings outside on the right.

This isn’t a fantasy column, but here’s a tip: if your opponent has Greg Jennings on his or her team, remove yourself from the trash-talking email thread this week.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 9 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 2, 2011 11:56 pm
 

Fred Jackson confident about getting deal done

Jackson

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Aside from Chicago’s Matt Forte -- who feels like the Bears are grinding him to a pulp -- the running back who’s most deserving of a raise is Buffalo’s Fred Jackson.

Forte is making a paltry $600,000 and is a free agent after this season, though a prime suspect to be franchised by Chicago, and he’s the league leader with 1,091 yards from scrimmage. Jackson, meanwhile, makes $1.75 million this year and is slated to earn $1.83 million in 2012, and he has accumulated 1,074 all-purpose yards.

It’s clear Forte is underpaid, but so is Jackson, and while the former gets nowhere in negotiations with his squad, the latter has apparently received assurances from his organization that it’ll make Jackson happy with a new deal.

According to 550 WGR radio, Jackson and Bills general manager Buddy Nix had a meeting three weeks ago, and now Jackson expresses his belief that a deal will get done eventually.

“He let me know that he was thinking about me, but they just had some other stuff that they had to take care of first,” Jackson said. “I've got a lot of faith in him and that's what I'll continue to do. Just put my faith in him and see what happens."

First, the Bills -- who already have re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick for six years and $59 million -- have to take care of Rian Lindell and offensive tackle Erik Pears. They’ll also have to decide if they want to re-sign receiver Stevie Johnson, who’s a free agent after this season.

But as we talked about Wednesday on the CBSSports.com experts chat (and Pete Prisco was outspoken about the issue), is it really worth it to pay running backs top-notch money? Our consensus: probably not.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 2, 2011 9:48 am
Edited on: November 2, 2011 2:31 pm
 

Matt Forte: Bears are 'grinding me to a pulp'

Posted by Will Brinson

Bears running back Matt Forte might very well be the most underpaid player in professional football. Forte's averaging 96 rushing yards a game behind a Swiss (cheese) built offensive line, he's averaging 59.9 receiving yards a game, he leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,091 and he accounts for over 40 percent of Chicago's offensive yardage produced.

Yet the Bears refuse to pay him. Or even talk about paying him. And may just end up using their franchise tag on him. All of which is starting to grind Forte's gears.

"The running back position is the most physically demanding on the field," Forte said Tuesday, per the Chicago Sun-Times. "Everyone acknowledges that. So to continue to give me the touches I’ve had since my rookie year but not award me a long-term contract sends the message that you’re OK grinding me into a pulp."

Look, the Bears and Forte are in a weird situation. He's blowing up this season and he probably deserves to get paid. And the Bears desperately need him on their roster.

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But if you're Chicago, and you're watching what happened with Chris Johnson and the Titans this season, how can you reasonably carve out a chunk of your payroll to give Forte a big-time deal when you don't have to? Especially since the franchise tag will be available after this season, even if it's something that won't make Forte too happy.

"If they think by just slapping the franchise tag on me that’s going to silence anything, they’re sadly mistaken," he said. "That’s not going to cure everything. It’s not a solution, I would say."

Reading between the lines, it's not implausible to think Forte might consider holding out if the Bears apply the franchise tag to him. It's reasonable for him to be upset, because he'll turn 27 in December and 28 the December after that, which means he wouldn't see his first non-rookie guaranteed contract until he was 29, should the Bears only franchise him once.

It's a legitimate quandary and although Forte's incredibly valuable to Chicago -- and the primary reason they've had any offensive success whatsoever -- his value takes a serious hit if the running back's contract takes up a substantially bigger portion of Chicago's payroll.

And if he's ground to a pulp, well, he doesn't do them much good at all.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: October 30, 2011 11:43 am
 

Report: Ray Rice, Matt Forte to get franchise tag

Should Rice and Forte blame Chris Johnson(US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Ray Rice and Matt Forte are two of the best running backs in the league. They also play a position that is among the easiest to replace in terms of productivity and that, along with Chris Johnson's no-show performance with the Titans this season after signing a four-year, $53 contract, means that neither should expect a new long-term deal this season. In fact, their respective teams, the Ravens and Bears, plan to slap them with franchise tag this offseason, ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted Sunday morning.

"I think the Ravens are going to do the right thing … with the contract situation, I'll leave it in their hands," Rice told CBSSports.com earlier this month.

Rice's notion of the "right thing" might differ from that of the organization's.

Both Rice and Forte are in the last year of their rookie deals and both have been an integral part of their offense's success. But the reality is that running backs are, in general, fungible (we've been beating this drum for some time). Look no further than DeMarco Murray, the Cowboys' rookie third-round pick who treaded the Rams for 253 (!) rushing yards last week in place of an injured Felix Jones.

Also not helping: Chris Johnson going from one of the league's most explosive backs to its least effective, a transformation that unofficially took place the moment he signed the shiny new deal he had been demanding (Johnson held out for most of training camp before the Titans relented, giving him $30 million guaranteed).

The Ravens and Bears have even more incentive to wait on giving Rice and Forte long-term deals: according to Schefter, franchise numbers for running backs drops next season from $9.45 million to $7.71 million.

It's not a bad consolation prize, but it also offers no security over the long haul. And while we think that it doesn't require much effort to find a replacement-level back, Rice and Forte are exceptions because their offenses go through them. If Ravens fans are frustrated with Joe Flacco now, what state of mind would they be in if Rice wasn't touching the ball 30 times a game? (for a glimpse of what that looks like, just rewatch the Jags debacle from Monday night.) And Forte, perhaps more than the o-line, is responsible for keeping Jay Cutler upright.

But that might not be enough to keep either from getting franchised. It's easy to point fingers at the front office, but Johnson is also responsible, too.


CBS Sports' James Brown, Dan Marino, Bill Cowher, Shannon Sharpe, and Boomer Esiason break down the Monday night matchup at Arrowhead Stadium between the San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:45 pm
 

Eye on Football NFL Awards: Week 7

Posted by Will Brinson



Every week, our NFL experts will hand out the Eye on Football hardware to the best of the best from the NFL week that was.

Week 7 NFL Awards
Expert Offense Defense STeams Coach
Freeman  Forte  Revis Braman  JDR
Judge  Brees Flowers Scobee Haley
Prisco Murray Woodley Scobee  JDR
Brinson Murray Flowers Scobee Haley
Katzowitz Murray Flowers Bryant Haley
Wilson  Foster Flowers Scobee Haley
Week 7 is in the books and that means it's time to hand out some awards. Oddly enough, we've got a pretty good consensus going this week, as a number of players were just so impressive that they garnered an easy victory.

Big ups to new Cowboys starting running back DeMarco Murray who wins his first-ever Eye on Offense Award. I'm sure he's slightly more excited about that than he is about breaking Emmitt Smith's single-game Cowboys rushing record.

On defense, multiple members of our esteemed panel requested the freedom to vote for Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer. Since that's not allowed, Brandon Flowers ran away with the hardware like it was a Palmer pass to the flats.

If you saw the abomination that was Monday night's game between the Jaguars and Ravens, there shouldn't be any question who won the Eye on Special Teams Award -- Josh Scobee knocked out three 50+ yard field goals and picked up the cheese from us.

And Todd Haley, the bearded wonder, has his Chiefs within one win on Sunday of creating a three-way tie in the AFC West. For that, plus blanking the Raiders on Sunday, he's your Eye on Coaching Award winner. No, we didn't see this coming either.

Leave your votes in the comments below or scream angrily at us on Twitter @EyeOnNFL.

Eye on Offense Award
Mike Freeman Clark Judge
Matt Forte Matt Forte, RB, Bears
You can be predictable and pick Arian Foster. Or Drew Brees. He threw for a cabillion yards and 800 touchdowns against the Colts. But it's the Colts. The way they're playing Brees could have thrown for five touchdowns on one leg while drinking a Dos Equis. I'm going with Matt Forte. He had 183 total yards against Tampa in England, mate. He's surpassed 1,000 total yards for the season already. Pay the man.
Drew BreesDrew Brees, QB, Saints
Tim Tebow had three spectacular minutes of play; Brees had 60. So whom are we talking about now? Yeah, well, that's what happens when you win a Super Bowl and throw TD passes every week. Only this week he had six. I don't care that it was against the Colts. I care that he did it, period. Magnificent performance by a magnificent quarterback.
Pete Prisco Will Brinson
DeMarco Murray DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys
Murray -- He comes off the bench to rush for a franchise-record 253 yards, including a 91-yard touchdown run, so there can't be any other player in this spot. Murray is an explosive back who just might be taking the starting job from Felix Jones.
DeMarco MurrayDeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys
When your first carry of the day goes for a 91-yard touchdown, you're probably going to end up with a decent statistical outing. But take away that monster run and Murray still averaged 6.75 yards a carry against St. Louis en route to his 253-yards, a Cowboys single-game record.
Josh Katzowitz Ryan Wilson
DeMarco MurrayDeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys
For a guy who had 71 career yards entering Sunday’s game vs. the Rams, Murray’s record-breaking 253-yard performance was enough to lead Dallas to a monster win, give Jason Garrett a reason to keep playing him instead of Felix Jones, and lead the man whose record he broke to give him a shout-out on Twitter. That, of course, is Emmitt Smith.
Arian Foster Arian Foster, RB, Texans
I know DeMarco Murray went buck wild on the Rams defense but, well, it's the Rams defense. What else was he supposed to do? Arian Foster, against division foe Tennessee, had more than 100 yards receiving by halftime. He ended the day with 234 total yards (119 receiving, 115 rushing) and three touchdowns as the Texans whipped the Titans, 41-7.
Eye on Defense Award
Freeman Judge
Darrelle RevisDarrelle Revis, CB, Jets
Man crush alert. I have one. His play at CB is remarkable right now and he had another interception returning this one 64 yards. This on the heels of an INT last week that was returned 100 yards for a TD. The pick wasn't classic Revis but it was still solid and reflected how the Jets are using him in coverage. He's playing everywhere, doing everything.
Brandon Flowers Brandon Flowers, CB, Chiefs
The Chiefs intercept Oakland six times, two of them by Flowers and two of them for touchdowns. Flowers had one of those scores, and it was notable because it marked Carson Palmer's first TD of the season. Give Flowers and the Chiefs credit. They were give little chance here, and they won ... with defense.
Prisco Brinson
LaMarr WoodleyLaMarr Woodley, LB, Steelers
Woodley had two sacks, spent the day in the Cardinals backfield, and showed why he's one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. Woodley can do it with speed or power. He's a tough one to block without help.
Brandon FlowersBrandon Flowers, CB, Chiefs
Like last week, it might be fine to hand this award to Kyle Boller or Carson Palmer, but give Flowers credit for picking off two passes, taking one to the house and making three tackles in a crucial game that got the Chiefs back into the AFC West race.
Katzowitz Wilson
Brandon Flowers Brandon Flowers, CB, Chiefs
The Chiefs embarrassed two quarterbacks (Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer) and one head coach (Hue Jackson) by intercepting six Raiders passes. You could go with the collective effort of the entire Kansas City defense, but since Flowers recorded 33 percent of the interceptions, plus a pick-6, I’ll single him out for recognition.
Brandon Flowers Brandon Flowers, CB, Chiefs
We could have gone with the entire Chiefs D -- or, hell, Carson Palmer and Kyle Boller for doing their part as the defensive players of the week -- but Flowers had two picks against Oakland, including a 58-yard TD return against Palmer. On the day, KC's D had six picks, and made Palmer look a lot like the guy who bumbled his way through 2010 in Cincinnati.
Eye on Special Teams Award
Freeman Judge
Bryan BramanBryan Braman, LB, Texans
The most unusual choice perhaps I'll ever make but I love these kinds of stories. Rookie Bryan Braman made the Houston team as an undrafted free agent.John McClain of the Houston Chronicle pointed out how Braman made two big hits that helped to set the tone on special teams.
Josh Scobee Josh Scobee, K, Jaguars
Thank goodness he was in the lineup. Otherwise, neither of these two teams might have scored until Friday. Scobee did what Sebastian Janikowski did two weeks earlier, which is nail three 50-yarders. Janikowski was my pick then, and Scobee is my pick now. I bet he's Jack Del Rio's, too.
Prisco Brinson
Josh ScobeeJosh Scobee, K, Jaguars
Scobee made three field goals from outside 50 yards and added another as the Jaguars upset the Baltimore Ravens. Scobee has not missed a field goal this season, going 14 for 14 and making all five of his kicks outside 50 yards.
Josh ScobeeJosh Scobee, K, Jaguars
The Jaguars won 12-7 on Monday night and Scobee's the only reason why, belting four field goals, three of which were more than 50 yards long. His clutch knockdown of a 51-yarder with 1:43 left saved Jack Del Rio from another questionable coaching decision. He's 14/14 on the year too.
Katzowitz Wilson
Red Bryant Red Bryant, DE, Seahawks
The hard-headed (quite literally) Seahawks defensive end blocked two Browns field goals, and though ultimately, Cleveland won a terribly ugly game and Bryant was ejected for head-butting Browns tight end Alex Smith, that doesn’t take away from his special teams performance.
Josh Scobee Josh Scobee, K, Jaguars
He striped three field goals from beyond 50 yards  and accounted for the Jaguars' only points against a Ravens team that featured an offensive game plan crafted before the invention of the forward pass. Outside of MJD, Scobee is Jacksonville's best scoring threat, and Monday night he was their only scoring threat.
Eye on Coaching Award
Freeman Judge
Jack Del RioJack Del Rio, HC, Jaguars
He's going to be fired at the end of the year. He knows it. Everyone on the Jaguars does. He's been terrible this season and for the past several years the only person Del Rio hasn't fired and thus scapegoated is the owner. If Del Rio could, he'd fire him, too. But his win against Baltimore was gritty, smart and nicely done despite the ugliness of the game.
Todd Haley Todd Haley, HC, Chiefs
Not only did he go into Oakland and pull out an improbable victory; he blanked the Raiders, the first time the Chiefs have had a road shutout since 1973. I thought Haley's coaching career was supposed to be on life support. Yeah, well, all I know is that he won his last three and can tie for first in the AFC West with a win Monday.
Prisco Brinson
Jack Del RioJack Del Rio, HC, Jaguars
He is clearly on the hot seat, and there had been talk of his being let do during the bye week, but Monday's impressive victory over the Baltimore Ravens changes that. Del Rio's team shut down the Baltimore offense in a 12-7 victory.  For his efforts: A trip to Houston this week.
Todd HaleyChan Gailey, Bills
I've already spent some time apologizing to (a) Chiefs fan(s), who find their way back to .500 after Week 6, even though the teams they beat are a combined 5-16. But the only team with a winning record in that list is Oakland, and give credit for Haley coming in and whipping the Raiders.
Katzowitz Wilson
Todd Haley Todd Haley, HC, Chiefs
The winning streak beard continues to grow on Haley’s face, and though we saw some jokes before Sunday’s game that questioned the last time the haggard-looking Haley had bathed, there’s no doubt of the turnaround the Chiefs have made the past three weeks. Remember how Scott Pioli was on the verge of firing Haley? Well, those days are gone, after the Chiefs smashed the Raiders on Sunday.
Todd Haley Todd Haley, HC, Chiefs
I was all set to give this to Jack Del Rio, but Brinson reminded me that not only did Del Rio challenge whether Joe Flacco stepped out of the back of the end zone, but he also chose to kick a 51-yard field goal with the Jags up by two and 1:43 to go in the game. Instead, I'll take Todd Haley, who could've been fired after the first three weeks of the season. Now, Kansas City is 3-3 after smoking Oakland 28-0. Clearly, this has everything to do with Haley's new hobo chic appearance.
Posted on: October 19, 2011 4:21 pm
 

Keep an Eye On: Week 7's finer points of analysis

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Saints vs. Colts
New Orleans’ two new weapons
The Saints have redefined their passing attack. It now runs through Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles. Graham has been far and away the best tight end in football this season. All onlookers could observe last season that the former Hurricanes power forward possessed considerable raw talent, but few could have predicted he’d polish it this quickly.

Graham has a natural feel for gaining positioning against pass defenders (insert obligatory “like a rebounder” comment here) and, best of all, he’s a hands-catcher who snags the ball away from his body. This makes him nearly impossible to defend, given his size and elevation abilities. Helping the cause is that the Saints align Graham all over the formation, which gives defenses fits in deciding what personnel package to use (most, including the Bucs this past week, have been going with nickel and treating Graham like a slot receiver).

Graham is Brees’s go-to guy. Sproles might be Sean Payton’s.

When the Saints are trying to dictate the tempo of a drive, they often look to get Sproles the ball underneath. The key is putting him in positions to run after the catch. This could mean screens, though often it has meant short outs and ins on spread plays where wideouts run deep to lift the coverage. Sproles has remarkable quickness and elusiveness, amplified by a rare-found ability to start and stop. He’s been much better in this offense than Reggie Bush ever was.

So how will the Colts defend the two new weapons? They’re a zone-based defense with fast linebackers. That helps against Sproles, but it does little for containing Graham. If the Saints can find ways to pass protect long enough to run vertical routes outside, that’ll prevent the Colts safeties from running under and over Graham’s routes. This would spell a fifth-straight 100-yard game for the rising star.



Dolphins vs. Broncos
Tebow’s limited resources
You couldn’t ask for more favorable conditions for a new starting young quarterback: two weeks to prepare, a game at Miami (where the weather is nice and the crowd is irrelevant) and facing a defense that, even with a beast like Cameron Wake, has for some reason completely forgotten how to rush the passer.

Trading your No. 1 receiver just days before the game might not seem favorable to a young quarterback, but that receiver was unenthused about playing with Tebow and hadn’t been getting open in Denver’s new ball-control offense anyway. Plus, he was liable to leave after the season, and his spot is ready to be filled by a now-healthy (hopefully) Demaryius Thomas.

Thomas is a possession target, whereas Brandon Lloyd was more of a vertical threat (though not a burner). The Broncos already have a litany of possession targets, such as Eric Decker, Matt Willis and, when healthy, Eddie Royal. This lack of vertical speed compresses the field and narrows throwing lanes, which isn’t good with a slow-reading young quarterback who has a long windup and prefers to improvise outside the pocket.

The Dolphins are healthy at cornerback again; with no downfield threats to worry about, don’t be surprised if this is the week they finally figure out how to reach the quarterback.

Bears vs. Buccaneers (London)
Forces up front
When playing well, these teams offer two of the faster defensive front sevens in football. The Bucs defensive ends – vastly improved Michael Bennett and explosive rookie Adrian Clayborn – feasted on the shoddy Saints tackles last week and should be licking their chops for J’Marcus Webb and Lance Louis (a guard by trade who has taken over for the overwhelmed Frank Omiyale on the right side).

Linebacker Geno Hayes played with instincts and speed against the Saints, which hasn’t always been the case this season. He’ll have a big say in whether the Bucs can contain Mr. Do It All, Matt Forte.

For Chicago, the mission will be attacking right tackle Jeremy Trueblood. Julius Peppers, bum knee and all, is a force who can matchup with Donald Penn on the left side. Same goes for underrated Israel Idonije. But over the years, when it’s rained on Trueblood, it’s poured. He’s the guy to go after.
The Bucs don’t have a backfield star like Matt Forte to build around, though Earnest Graham is a productive receiver who, as he showed last week, can add a dimension of surprising (though subtle) inside quickness and elusiveness.

Don’t be stunned if Graham becomes a bigger component in the run game even after LeGarrette Blount gets healthy. Graham, however, is facing a much greater challenge this week than he faced last week; Chicago’s linebackers are just as fast as New Orleans’ but a lot more physical.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 7 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 9:44 am
 

Teams have 'internal discussions' on Forte trade?

Posted by Will Brinson

As everyone knows, Bears running back Matt Forte would like to get paid. And Chicago does not want to pay him. But according to a report Tuesday, there are other teams that would love to give the running back top dollar.

Two teams, in fact, according to the Chicago Tribune, have had "internal discussions" about trading for Forte. And Forte appreciates that.

"I'm glad teams are interested," Forte said. "For me to be out here working as hard as I do and not have a contract extension, you kind of get that feeling of being unappreciated. I just hope that when this year is over and I play as well as I've been playing, that if the Bears don't reward me with a contract, another team will.''

A couple of things here. One, "internal discussions" by other teams mean absolutely nothing. Hell, 20 minutes ago, my wife and I had internal discussions about trading our place for a $6 million house in the near future. (In other words, just because two other teams like Forte doesn't mean the Bears will ship him away -- he literally accounts for more than 50 percent of their offense.)

Two, the Bears still have the franchise tag available, so Forte shouldn't bank on getting paid just quite yet.

"It kind of doesn't make sense," Forte said of the franchise tag, per the Trib. "If they don't want to pay me that type of money, why would they use the franchise tag, which is basically paying me that ($8 million) in one year?"

Well, they would do that to avoid giving a running back a long-term deal and then seeing him struggle while making a pile of cash, which is precisely what happened to Chris Johnson and DeAngelo Williams so far in 2011.

And three, how many times is this guy gonna mention that he wants to get paid? He's got most of the media saying it -- me included -- for him and fans hanging signs at Bears home games. Everyone knows he wants more money -- repeating his desire once a week seems a bit redundant and not particularly team-oriented.

Speaking of Williams, Forte's believed to want less than the Panthers "franchise" back, and would take about $8 million a year. Given his production, that's a reasonable price for the running back, and if someone -- the Broncos are trading fools lately -- would give up a first- or second-rounder for Forte, a trade could always happen.

Just don't expect it to go down today.

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