October 01, 2009
I'm sure that those first two names are names that Bears fans wish to never see next to the name of Matt Forte(notes). With Forte's dead-legged performance through the first three weeks of this season, though, with apologies to Bears fans, it's a comparison worth looking into.
First, a quick primer for younger fans who aren't familiar with the days of Salaam and Enis. Both were running backs selected by the Bears in the first round; Salaam at number 21 overall in 1995, and Enis at number five overall in 1998. Both had one at least moderately promising year with the Bears before vanishing into the mysterious mist of the sucky running back.
You know the wall that running backs tend to hit around the age of 30? Both of those guys hit it around the age of 24.
Here's where my memory is a little faulty, though: I thought both Salaam and Enis had really good years with the Bears before their disappearances, but "really good" is probably being too generous, especially for Enis.
Salaam, like Forte, had a nice rookie year. He went over 1,000 yards and had 10 touchdowns, which you'll definitely take as a rookie year, but his yards-per-carry was an un-special 3.6. Enis, though, was pretty bad. His best year was his sophomore year, where he ran for 916 yards and three touchdowns, and had a sad, sad yards per carry average of 3.2. He did add 45 receptions, though.
How do they compare to Forte, though? Well, neither of their best years were as good as Forte's rookie year. He ran for over 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns, while he caught 63 balls and added 4 touchdowns through the air. Still, Forte was, like Salaam and Enis, under 4.0 yards a carry. He averaged 3.9.
Through the first three games of this year, Forte's been a complete brick. He might as well be wearing a "Salaam" jersey. He's averaging 2.5 yards per carry and has no touchdowns. It's not like he's played a collection of fierce defenses, either. Sure, Pittsburgh's good, but Green Bay gave up 100+ yard games to Cedric Benson(notes) and Steven Jackson, and Seattle gave up 200+ to Frank Gore(notes). Forte, while getting a good amount of carries, hasn't been able to run against any of them.
As for conclusions we can draw here, there really aren't any. An anticlimactic end to a post, I know. The good news is that wish Salaam and Enis, the Bears sort of stopped giving them the ball as much, but with Forte, there's been no sign that they're losing confidence in him.
He's got a chance to get healthy this week against Detroit. If he doesn't, Bears fans will get to worry about "The next Rashaan Salaam" through the bye week, too.
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