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Bears camp report: Chip on Forte's shoulder is bad news for Packers

by | National NFL Insider
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If Jay Cutler can stay healthy, the Bears' offense can be one of the most explosive in football. (Getty Images)  
If Jay Cutler can stay healthy, the Bears' offense can be one of the most explosive in football. (Getty Images)  

Matt Forte is wearing a Superman hat. It's appropriate since, in some ways, Forte has carried the Bears on his back the way the man of steel carried airplanes to safety.

Forte is coming off a freshly signed deal, and when I ask him about it you can still see there are some interesting emotions churning inside of him. Forte had to scratch and claw for a new deal when it should have been a forgone conclusion, like using an umbrella in a driving rain. You can pick apart Forte's stats all you want but there is no doubt that he makes this offense go.

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In the end, the Bears did what they're supposed to do: they took care of a vital organ in the team's circulatory system, a guy who produces and doesn't end up in the back of a police cruiser. Forte signed a four-year, $32 million deal after some contentious negotiations. It's all over, right? Right?

"What happened with my contract is how it's supposed to happen," Forte said. "Only thing I would say is, deal could have been done last year. I'm not sure why it wasn't. You have to ask the Bears. But you can't get a deal done when one side wants to do it and the other side doesn't."

I asked Forte if he remains bitter.

"Not necessarily," he said. "More bitter about stuff that was written about me. Stuff about my knees being shot or how I was asking for Adrian Peterson money. None of that was true and I don't know where any of it was coming from."

Was it coming from the Bears?

"Probably," he said. "Who knows?"

To be clear: Forte doesn't come off as bitter as much as shocked he had to go through it all. He seems, actually, almost pissed. Chip meet shoulder?

"I'm going to show people I deserve this contract," he said.

An uber-motivated Forte is a scary Forte. Should the rest of division and league be worried? Forte laughed. "I'm not saying that," he said, "but I'm going to be me."

And that's one of football's most versatile weapons. His success again will dictate the success of quarterback Jay Cutler and the entire offense.

So Forte is back, fresh contract in hand. And he still seems a tad ticked off?

This bodes well for Chicago.

Team Objectives

 Protect Cutler. If Cutler stays healthy, this offense has the potential to be one of the league's most explosive. It won't be Green Bay, but it will be good. Cutler is now part of an offensive scheme that protects the thrower more, and if Cutler stays upright so much is set up for him to have a huge season.

 Keep Brandon Marshall out of trouble. This will not be easy. We are now seeing the Marshall we've seen before. The one who makes sense, says all the right things, does all the right things. Then something goes astray. His physical abilities are outstanding but there's a reason why one of the best wide receivers in football has been let go from two different teams. He can be a huge distraction. A happy Marshall, a non-problematic Marshall, is a hugely productive Marshall. But that has always been a roll of the dice.

 Step up on defense. Otherwise known as slow down Aaron Rodgers. The only hope the Bears have of unseating the Packers in the division -- other than divine intervention or Rodgers being abducted by Romulans -- is slowing what will again be a vaunted Packers offense. It's all ... about ... Rodgers. The problem for Chicago remains -- though it's fearsome up front and getting better across the board -- a lack of athleticism on defense. Like, say, the Giants, which slowed down two great offenses in New England and the Packers.

Camp Battles

The Bears really only have one true battle and that's at the left tackle spot. Of course, that's not an insignificant position. The winner will be Cutler's biggest protector. Marcus Webb and Chris Williams have been alternating there. The coaching staff insists that -- even though one day recently Williams shifted to right tackle -- Webb has not won the job. But it still seems like Webb has the edge. At least at this point.

Somebody to Watch

Julius Peppers. Of course, he remains one of the game's best-known pass rushers, and is always someone to watch. But seeing him these days, he looks even faster. He looks more aggressive. I'm not sure why or even if that's totally accurate. In speaking with Bears players and coaches, some of them believe the same, that Peppers might have his best season ever.

Injury Roundup

The Bears have had more injury scares than actual scary injuries. Devin Hester and Marshall both had what looked like bad injuries but were falce alarms. Linebacker Brian Urlacher has missed time because of his knee injury but he's expected to be fine. Wide receiver Eric Weems has a minor ankle injury.

The Final Word

Lovie Smith is 71-57. He's been to a Super Bowl as Bears coach and since taking the helm in 2004 has only three losing seasons. That's not bad at all. In an NFL era of mediocrity, Smith wins, yet there remains the ridiculous notion that Smith should be on the hot seat. The Bears have enough talent and coaching to make the playoffs and challenge the Packers. Smith's alleged hot seat will be nice and cool.
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