When the Chicago Bears signed Matt Forte to a big new contract in July, Michael Bush, who had just signed with the Bears in March, was worried about his role in the offense. He didn't want to be just a short-yardage back.
But Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice doesn't see him as that. Tice sees Bush as a 1,000-yard back. He sees him as one of the Bears' two 1,000-yard backs, actually. Bush shared Tice's plan with the Chicago Sun-Times:
[...] when he arrived at Halas Hall for a free-agent visit, Bush was fascinated when new offensive coordinator Mike Tice informed him that he wanted two 1,000-yard running backs.
"He said he wanted to do it,'' Bush recalled Tice saying, "and I said, 'Well, you got the right two people.' "
Both guys are unquestionably capable of a 1,000-yard season if they stay healthy. Forte's done it twice before, and while Bush hasn't, it's mainly because he hasn't had the opportunity. Last year with Oakland, he was just 23 yards short of 1,000, and he got there on 256 carries. He added 37 receptions for 418 yards, too, giving him a total of 1,395 yards from scrimmage. He's got the talent if he gets the touches.
And if things go the way the Bears envision them, the passing game will have defenses backing off and giving up more running room. With Jay Cutler, Devin Hester and new addition Brandon Marshall, they've got more talent in the passing game than they've had in years. Head coach Lovie Smith is still a run-first guy, though.
A team having two 1,000-yard rushers has happened six times in the Super Bowl era, the last being in 2009, when Jonathan Stewart had 1,133 yards and DeAngelo Williams had 1,117 for the Carolina Panthers. The year before, Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward did it for the New York Giants.
The other 1,000-yard duos are Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner for the Cleveland Browns in 1985, Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1976, and Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris for the Miami Dolphins in in 1972. The Atlanta Falcons did it in 2006 with a quarterback and a running back, Michael Vick and Warrick Dunn.
The Bears have the running back talent to pull it off. The problem is that so many other things will have to go right for Tice to get his wish. Health is obviously the big concern. Not only will Bush and Forte both have to say healthy, so will the other parts of the offense that will give the Bears some running room ‒ that means Cutler, the receivers, and the offensive line.