Rookie running back Matt Forte looks for extra yardage as he tries to break free of the Jaguars' Brian Williams.
Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer
Welcome to the club, rook.
And an elite club at that.
With his second reception Sunday at Soldier Field, Matt Forte joined LaDainian Tomlinson, Edgerrin James, Marshall Faulk, Eric Dickerson, Billy Sims and Joe Cribbs as the only players to rush for more than 1,000 yards and haul in 50 catches in their rookie season.
"That's a great accomplishment," said Forte, who has 1,081 rushing yards and 53 catches. "I just thank God for the opportunity for that. You know, those are Hall of Fame name guys or soon to be. I just hope I follow in their footsteps."
Plenty of NFL coaches and personnel men around the league believe he will, as he often draws comparisons to some of the league's best ever at the position, including Marcus Allen.
"I just take it as a compliment," said Forte, who now has more yards from scrimmage (1,476) than Gale Sayers (1,374) did as a rookie in 1965.
With three games remaining, it seems Forte is certain to break three team rookie records:
• Most rushing yards in a season (Anthony Thomas, 1,183).
• Most attempts (Rashaan Salaam, 296; Forte has 269).
• Most receptions (Mike Ditka, 56).
Did Forte foresee putting together numbers like this when the season began?
"Yeah, I always put big expectations on myself," Forte said. "I just wanted to gain over 1,000 yards, have the team win and be effective any way possible."
Forte was awfully effective against the Jaguars, especially in the early going. On the second possession with the Bears already leading 7-0, Forte grabbed a short pass and scampered 11 yards, then went off right guard for a 26-yard gain on the next play.
His next 4 runs didn't amount to much as the Bears went up 10-0, but on the first play of the next drive Forte again went off right guard for 13 yards.
The Bears were pulling their guards often in the early going as Forte smashed through the Jaguars' front four, amassing 51 yards on his first 7 carries. Jacksonville, however, adjusted and Forte managed just 18 yards on his next 14 attempts.
It hardly mattered as the defense stuffed Jacksonville all day long, never giving the visiting 4-9 squad much of a chance.
After a month of watching his unit sputter, offensive coordinator Ron Turner was pleased to see the solid early production, especially with the high-flying New Orleans Saints coming to town in just three days.
"We just weren't clicking, and that happens in sports," Turner said. "So much of it is mental, so much of it is confidence, and once you get on a roll and once you get something going, you can feed off that and keep going and going.
"And when you're struggling a little big, it's the same thing. It takes a little while to get out of a hole. Hopefully today will be a step to get us back in sync and get in the rhythm we had earlier in the year."