Jeremy Langford, Running Back
For the last 8 years the Chicago backfield has been dominated by Matt Forte. He could do it all – 6 seasons with 50+ catches, 3 seasons with a 4.5+ yards per carry, 4 seasons of 250+ carries. Matt Forte needed no help, but now he is gone, signed to the New York Jets in free agency and there is a great gaping black hole of production in the Bears backfield.
There are several options for how the Bears might start to replace some of the production lost, from Ka’Dem Carey and Jacquizz Rodgers to the rookie Jordan Howard, but the most likely to step in and produce is Jeremy Langford. In the 3 games Forte missed in 2015 Langford got 170 yards on the ground on 51 carries for a disappointing 3.33 yards a carry, but that included a brutally tough game against Denver and one against St. Louis who were no slouch vs the run either. What was impressive though was how well he filled the receiving role of Forte’s game – 196 yards on 13 catches. Even taking away this 83 yard scoring play against St. Louis that’s not a bad haul.
Langford has the skills to be a solid replacement for Matt Forte, and if he is afforded the workload he might just be a breakout player for the Bears in 2016. He is unlikely to be as brilliant in the passing game as Matt Forte was, but he is arguably a better blocker than Forte is. The common belief has been that you can’t replace Forte, and that is true – no one man will fill #22’s shoes but Langford could go a long way to helping the Bears move on and still have a dynamic and productive offense.
John Fox has always been the type of coach who likes to run the ball and control the clock, with Dowell Loggains taking over from Adam Gase as offensive coordinator look for Langford to be featured early and often as the staff try and limit the burden on the enigmatic Jay Cutler.