Oct 6, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) is tackled by New Orleans Saints middle linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
It’s no secret that the New Orleans Saints have rights to one of the most atrocious defenses in the National Football League. It’s also noted that the Chicago Bears‘ Matt Forte has been one of the most consistent running backs in the game, both on the ground and through the air, since entering the league via the 2008 NFL Draft out of the Big Easy’s own Tulane University.
Born in Lake Charles, LA and raised in Slidell, LA, Forte attended Slidell High School on the Northshore of Lake Ponchartrain, just 20 minutes away from downtown New Orleans. He was quite the impressive athlete — I know this because I was given the opportunity to watch him perform several times. Unfortunately, my observation came from the opposing Northshore High School sideline.
As a senior at SHS, Forte was named the St. Tammany Parish Player of the Year, District 5-5A Offensive MVP and was an All-Metro selection, tallying 1,628 total yards and 25 touchdowns. His success would bring him a long way both collegiately and professionally.
Growing up in Southeast Louisiana, the two-time Pro Bowl selectee (2011, 2013) is well acquainted with the New Orleans Saints organization. If the Black and Gold, who control their own destiny, are unable to contain him, Forte could become well-acquainted with the end zone during tonight’s prime-time contest in the Windy City.
Monday Night Football is a must win for Sean Payton and company if they wish to find themselves in the postseason. It’s a close race in the most embarrassing division in football, the NFC South. If the Saints are able to bag the victory on the road in Chicago, they’ll be sitting at first place with only the Atlanta Falcons (5-9) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12) remaining on the schedule.
While nothing seems to be going for New Orleans, especially on the defensive side of the ball, a win against their NFC North counterpart, the Bears (5-8), is certainly not out of the question.
Rob Ryan‘s defense ranks second-to-last in the league, but Chicago is not far behind, sitting at No. 29. Fortunately, for the Saints, QB Jay Cutler and his struggles have the Bears offense seated at 17th in the NFL. New Orleans is currently at No. 3.
It’s been the Matt Forte show for the Monsters of the Midway. In 13 games played this season, the Louisiana native already has 1,578 total yards (854 rushing, 724 receiving) and nine touchdowns.
The Saints will need all hands on deck in order to reign supreme. Aside from Curtis Lofton and Keenan Lewis, the staples of the defense, we will need to see guys like Cam Jordan, David Hawthorne, Akiem Hicks, John Jenkins and Kenny Vaccaro (if he starts) step up their game.
If OLB Junior Galette (questionable) is unable to go with a knee injury he suffered last week against the Carolina Panthers, a heavy dose of undrafted rookie Kasim Edebali is expected. Again, this team controls its destiny, so it’s up to the coaches and players to do their part and get the win.
Forte is capable of doing significant damage to a fragile run defense that ranks No. 29 in the NFL through 14 weeks of football. In my opinion, he is the Bears’ x-factor, and should be the Saints’ top priority on the field.
Plug up the holes and make the tackles — it’s basic fundamentals. It’s not easy to do, but the Black and Gold have made it seem like the toughest job on the planet. This disappointing defense must get back on track if they wish to salvage what’s left of their season, and that essentially begins tonight.