The Bears continue to make moves with the signing of FA running back Chester Taylor to a deal worth a reported $12.5 million in total value with $7 million in guaranteed money.
As expected, with this type of money up front, Taylor will most likely come into camp this summer as the club’s No. 1 back, reducing last year’s starter Matt Forte to a backup role. But, with most NFL teams, you need two backs that can produce and two backs that can play within the system.
That system in Chicago now belongs to Mike Martz. And having seen that offense up close, I don’t see why the Bears wouldn’t consider this a positive play.
Martz’s backs have to be dynamic when it comes to the game plan, and they have to pass protect — something that Taylor has shown the ability to do throughout his career. Those third-down routes he was catching from Brett Favre in Minnesota become first and second-down routes under Martz. Taylor will get the ball deep in the backfield in the running game with ample time to cut back and find a hole.
Plus, with Martz, running backs are used creatively. He will align Taylor away from the formation — almost as a slot WR — where he can put him in favorable matchups and get him the football in open space. Think of Taylor running the option route, using the defender's leverage to get open. The rail route, the angle route, and any inside breraking route between the numbers that matches Taylor against a linebacker or a safety. He will see that with Martz and he will be productive.
I was high on Taylor when I ranked my top ten UFAs, and I do see him as an ideal fit for Martz, because despite his age, he isn’t the type of running back we usually see in his 30’s — players like Edgerrin James, Brian Westbrook or LaDainian Tomlinson. Only once in his career, during the 2006 season, was he used in a feature role. After the Vikings drafted Adrian Peterson, his number of touches were reduced, which prepared him for this point — to cash in.
Chicago can get the value they paid up front for Taylor, and in Martz’s system — along with QB Jay Cutler — his numbers should reflect an upgrade for Chicago. Forte will still see the ball, but when the Bears need a play and want to create those mismatches, Taylor should be in the lineup.
Up next? Julius Peppers, as the Bears continue to spend on talent.
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