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Friday, September 24

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Bears Fri Sep 28 2012

Referees Return, Forte a Maybe for Monday Night

Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.png16 years of officiating experience at the games highest level. 11 years of college football work before that. I've never been so happy to see you before, Walt Anderson, who will be leading the zebra crew for Chicago's Monday Night Football visit to Dallas.

After the disaster that was the Packers/Seahawks game, I was afraid if the real refs didn't return, the NFL would turn into the WWE Royal Rumble this weekend. Sure, everyone south of the border loved seeing the Packers take a kick to the twins at the end of the game, but imagine how infuriated you'd be if something similar happened to the Bears. This is the type of crap I worried about incessantly throughout the games the scab crews officiated.

With the return of the referees post-lockout, you still have the right to complain about bad calls, but the reason will no longer be because the official making it is grossly unqualified. The real crews are back, and I can once again say that officiating doesn't affect wins or losses without gagging.

The timing couldn't be more perfect for the Bears either. With a meeting with the league's top defense on Monday night on the horizon, players should feel a bit safer playing the game, knowing that major penalties aren't going to get consistently missed. The only downside will be that the games will return to a more normal pace - much closer to the three hour games were used to as opposed to the added half hour. The extra time was an advantage for a veteran (re: old) team like the Bears, giving players more in-game recovery time.

One major difference you may see in the running game for the Bears this week is more single back sets with either Matt Forte (if healthy) or Michael Bush. Evan Rodriguez, the Bears only fullback, left the game against the Rams on the opening kickoff with a knee injury and never returned. He's also missed practice all week, and is questionable for Sunday.

Many people believe that running backs are almost completely interchangeable in the NFL. So long as you have one on the roster, you can be successful in the ground game. I think the absence of Matt Forte at the end of last year along with missing last week's game proves otherwise.

An offense is typically built around the quarterback, and the type of running back a team possesses. With Forte's patience and burst being his two best features, the Bears run a ton of power plays with pulling guards, and running play action off those types of runs. It works beautifully because Forte waits back for the blocking to unfold in front of him.

Backups often times have different skill sets to compliment the starter and make the team stronger. That's no different with Bush. He's a no-flash power runner that hits the hole immediately whether it's there or not. He's a perfect partner due to Forte's difficulty getting a yard or two when the defense is stacked up on the line. But he isn't paid like a normal backup.

A dual running back scenario on a team is great, but it doesn't mean interchangeable by any means. With the main guy down, the playbook needs to change to fit the skills of the backup. That didn't happen in Chicago last week against a mediocre run defense employed by the Rams.

Hopefully we can say welcome back to Forte on Monday night, but right after we say it to the officials.

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