Roy Williams had some predictions for Matt Forte before the Chicago Bears took the field against the Carolina Panthers today.
"I was joking with him saying 'Hey Matt, think you'll get 120 yards today?'" Williams said. "Matt just looked at me and claimed he'd be getting at least 200. I didn't believe him at the time. I guess I'm looking pretty foolish right now. But I was going on good information. Matt had told me the most yards he'd had before was 166."
Forte lived up to his own hype and rushed for 205 yards on the day, a career high. As a team, Chicago rushed for 224 yards against a Carolina front seven that has been hit hard by injury.
RB Matt Forte
Rob Grabowski/US Presswire
"I've never been happier to be as wrong on anything in my life," Williams laughed.
For offensive lineman Lance Louis, back from an an ankle injury that cost him the last two games, Forte's achievement was a positive reflection on the performance of the front five. Louis played both right guard and right tackle during the game and was solid at both positions.
"I think we had this pretty well set up for some big plays today," Louis said. "We spent a lot of time studying Carolina's defense and we felt that we could create some openings for the run and for the passing game."
The game plan worked. The offense gained just 317 total yards but the 224 on the ground helped run down a lot of clock. Coordinator Mike Martz used the pass sparingly and played smash-mouth football for the first time in a long time. He called just 17 passes compared to 31 runs.
It was a drastic improvement for a unit that rushed for just 73 total yards the last two games combined.
"Last week there was considerable criticism that we had no running game," Chris Williams said. "That was something we set out to correct. And what I noticed was that the longer we were out there, the stronger we became."
The players credited the more-balanced approach in helping them develop a rhythm, something they failed to do the past two weeks.
"We were concerned but not concerned if you know what I mean," said Williams. "We want to be the team that can do both the running and the passing as well. I felt every aspect of the offense was in sync today. That's what helped to set Matt loose to get all those yards."
Will Williams revise his estimates of Forte's production in the future?
"Absolutely I will. He's a wild man out there. I'm going to tell him I've never been happier to be wrong in my life."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.