One way that I heard the question was, Did Kahlil Bell run Matt Forte out of a franchise tag with his performance against Green Bay on Sunday night?
The question completely bypassed the idea of Forte’s getting a long-term deal and was already debating the value of even the one-year commitment that goes with the franchise tag.
All things considered, Bell was mediocre. Yeah, he ran for 121 yards on 23 carries for a sparkling average of 5.3 yards per carry. But look, he fumbled twice, once on the goal line. He can’t do that. The Bears can’t trust him.
It doesn’t matter that offensive lineman Edwin Williams took one of the fumbles into the end zone for a touchdown. What matters is that he fumbled at the goal line.
And Bears coach Lovie Smith thought Bell was “impressive’’?
Scratch that. Withdraw the question, your honor. In Smith’s happy-think world, anything above “stink’’ is impressive.
Yeah, Bell ran hard, hit the holes and broke tackles. He also showed solid technique in blitz pickup.
But those fumbles ought to scare smart football people. Those fumbles ought to scare Smith’s Bears, who treasure takeaways -- live off them, even.
Thing is, that’s only one of the issues involving Bell and Forte and the Bears and Jerry Angelo.
Forte is hurt, dealing with the same kind of ligament problem that Tommie Harris suffered. Don’t minimize that for several reasons, and here’s why:
Running backs usually don’t stay healthy enough to earn their long-term contracts like Forte wants from the Bears, and here’s Forte with a knee injury when he didn’t have blinding speed to start with.
Smart people wouldn’t give Forte another thought as a long-term investment and probably shouldn’t even think about paying him the franchise salary ranking among the top five at his position.
Running back have the worst life span among NFL skill players. Four years is about what you can expect. That’s about what the Bears got out of Forte, who commented earlier in this season of publicly wanting money that he was getting ground to bits.
Yes. Right. Exactly. That’s the job and that’s the greatest vagary of it. Running backs are disposable. Injured running backs are even more so. Any kind of injured player is a quick discard for a smart executive.
But here’s the other problem for the Bears: Angelo isn’t particularly smart when it comes to injured players. He seems to prefer that his draftees come pre-injured and he seems to reward those kind of veterans, as well. which brings us back to Harris.
The former defensive tackle was a force until he got hurt. He wasn’t going to have his same quickness that made him almost unblockable.
But no matter. Angelo still gave him a four-year deal for $40 million or so. Even if most NFL contracts are phony numbers because teams can cut their losses, the point is that Angelo makes bad investments in players who come pre-injured.
If I were the Bears, I wouldn’t give Forte the expensive transition tag for next season.
If I were the Bears, I wouldn’t trust Bell or injured, brain-cramping, $1.9 million Marion Barber.
If I were the Bears, I would start all over in looking for a starting tailback and I wouldn’t let Angelo near those decisions.
But of course, the Bears’ being the Bears, Angelo will retain his authority and promptly give Forte a four-year deal instead of finding two quality receivers in a passing league.