The Bears rank last in the NFL in rushing, averaging just 64 yards during the first three games of the season. But Aaron Kromer isn't worried about running back Kyle Long or his blockers.
The offensive coordinator attributes the lack of production on the ground to how the Bears have chosen to attack two of the NFL's best defenses against the run more than anything else.
"In the last two games we've gone into them thinking, 'We're not going to hand the ball to the halfback in the backfield very often,'" Kromer said. "We didn't feel it was advantageous towards winning the game, so we limited the opportunities that Matt had. We thought we had to throw the football to win but run enough to keep them honest."
The plan worked perfectly, helping the Bears record back-to-back primetime victories on the road over the 49ers and Jets, teams that ranked fourth and third in the NFL, respectively, against the run in 2013. While Forte had only 25 carries in those two contests, quarterback Jay Cutler passed for six touchdowns and no interceptions.
After rushing for a career-high 1,339 yards last season, Forte has been limited to 136 through the first three games this year, putting him on pace for just 725, which would be a career low. But the seven-year veteran from Tulane is more interested in team goals than individual numbers.
"I'm not a real stats guy," Forte said. "I'm just in there to try and affect the game in a positive way any way I can and help our team win in any manner I can. If you worry about stats too much, then you have to think about getting yards instead of doing the right thing to help your team win.
"That's pretty selfish to worry about how many touchdowns or yards you get. If you're doing the right thing and you work hard enough, that type of thing will come along with it."
Forte's coaches and teammates know that he will never complain about not getting the ball enough.
"Matt understands," Kromer said. "He's a very intelligent football player. He understands game plans and winning and losing. When winning is more important than stats, he's all in."
"We're all prideful guys, but at the end of the day there's no one that's more team-first than Matt Forte," Cutler said. "He knows the last two games what we were going against and it wasn't going to be a free-for-all in the run game."
While Forte is not unhappy with his role, he hasn't enjoyed facing defenses designed to stop the run and is determined to help the running game become more efficient.
"It is frustrating during the game," Forte said. "It's not that we're not calling runs. We are calling runs, but sometimes the defenses are set up so that the run play that we call is not going to work against that defense.
"Each week we're continuing to work on it, and we've got to get everybody on the same page up front. Some of the guys that are stepping in for the injured players, we have to get everybody on the right page where we're blocking the right looks, so if [opposing teams] change the personnel or change to a different defensive front, we know how to block that as well."
The Bears' ground game showed some signs of life late in Monday night's win over the Jets as Forte rushed for 21 yards on four carries on a fourth-quarter drive that resulted in a key field goal.
"Towards the end of the game we started figuring out what they were doing," Forte said, "and whether we needed to run the ball to get first downs or to run the clock down, we blocked it well and hit the hole hard and ended up getting positive yards and making first downs and keeping the clock running."
Forte hopes the running game picks up Sunday against the Packers where it left off versus the Jets.
"We definitely can carry that into next week, but it doesn't mean it's fixed or anything," he said. "We still have to work on it like we did today and yesterday at practice to get everything fixed."