Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte spent the day after his team's loss to the Green Bay Packers handing out gifts to people in downtown Chicago and visiting Lurie Children's Hospital and a Chicago firehouse. After singing some carols, he also sat down with Shutdown Corner to talk about the Bears' troubles, the rivalry with the Packers, and what he's doing for the holidays.
Shutdown Corner: The Packers have beat the Bears in their last six games. What is it about them that makes them so hard to beat?
Matt Forte: It's supposed to be a rivalry where we go back and forth, but these last few games have been kind of one-sided. Hopefully, these next couple of times we play them, we can turn the tables and can get a streak going and get them back.
They're a good team. Gotta give them credit, too. They have a lot of great players. But when it comes down to it, there's always a couple plays that decide the game. When we have drives going and get penalties and that backs us up, it's hard to convert on third downs.
SC: The Bears started out 7-1 but are now 8-6. Last December was winless, too. What happens to the Bears late in the season?
MF: For some reason, we kind of fizzled out. We start off strong. That's when we're playing the best football. As an offense, we need to stop making dumb mistakes, like jumping offsides and holding and penalties. We can move the ball down the field and get points. We already know we have a great defense. Part of us being 7-1 early in the year was on the defense, because they were scoring points. We knew the defense couldn't get pick-sixes every game, so we have to step it up on our side. We haven't been doing that. Obviously, we know what we have to do. We just have to do it.
SC: Does a change need to be made in the leadership of the Bears?
MF: Whenever you get into a streak where you haven't won games in a row, obviously people start saying there needs to be a change. Really, we just got to look at the mistakes we've been making and not do those. It's kinda simple when you go and watch the film. The last few games, we've been moving the ball down the field, and then on a crucial third down, we've gotten a penalty. It would back us up and then kill the drive. All those things like penalties and turnover, we gotta cut those out. We've been shooting ourselves in the foot.
SC: Brian Urlacher said he doesn't care about what media and fans say about the coaches job. Do the concerns of fans and media ever make it to the locker room?
MF: No. Most of the time people start talking about how we're playing for Lovie's job, that comes from the media. They hate to create storylines and sell papers or whatever. Like Brian said, we don't focus on that kind of stuff. We're inside the facility. We know how good of players and coaches we have. We gotta step it up and play better on offense.
SC: After a loss like Sunday's, what does it mean for you to spend the day handing out gifts and visiting kids at the hospital?
MF: It's fun. I always like to hang with these guys at Tilden and going and spreading holiday cheer. It's fun for me to go up to a random person who may know my face or may not and give them a gift certificate or anything. It puts a smile on their face and they appreciate it. I might be a little sore walking around, but walking around gets the soreness out.
SC: You've built a relationship with the students from Tilden High School. What does it mean to you?
MF: I spoke to one guy today. I didn't see him the last time. He said, 'Yeah, I just got back in school because I was homeless.' I was blown away. That's crazy. I'm very appreciative to be a part of it, and be an instrument in these guys' lives. I think it's pretty cool.
SC: What kind of holiday traditions do you follow?
MF: We just put up the tree. I say we, but [my wife Danielle] did. I really like to put all the presents around the tree and just kind of look at them. I always like to have family over. I come from a big family. We would all get together. I have a lot of cousins, and I like to have a lot of family around at Christmas.
SC: You and your wife are expecting a daughter. Is she getting any gifts?
MF: Of course. She already has a closet full of clothes. I got her some shoes already. The same kind of Jordans I have. We can match. She's got a lot of cute stuff already.