The Chicago Bears are likely to be without running back Matt Forte on Sunday, which is really no surprise. Forte suffered an ankle sprain in last week's game against the Packers. Either way, the St. Louis Rams are still preparing as though Forte will be on the field.
"We have to, out of fairness to our defense, prepare for Forte," Rams head coach Jeff Fisher acknowledged. "We can't just assume and then have him come out. So, we're prepared to see him play and be 100 percent."
Even without Forte, the Bears have a formidable backup in Michael Bush, who they signed as a free agent this season. Bush, who came over from Oakland where he had plenty of work behind the constantly injured Darren McFadden, set new career highs last year with 977 yards on 256 carries. This year, he's averaging 3.7 yards per game on 26 carries with a pair of touchdowns.
"He's more of a power back, which is always a problem when you get your defense spread out and they start running down hill," Fisher said.
"Michael Bush is a good back," Rams assistant head coach Dave McGinnis said, echoing his boss. "He's a real back in this league. He's been a starter in this league. He can play. As I said, for us defensively, we've got our hands full. We've got to be able to not only be able to deal with their run game, which Chicago's always been known for a physical run game, but now with Jay, he can spread it out and he can sling it. So, we've got our hands full."
The Rams do indeed have their hands full, but might want to spend some extra time on the run defense in practice this week.
Through two games, the Rams are allowing a league-high 5.5 yards per rushing attempt. Opponents are averaging 129.5 rushing yards per game against the Rams. According to Football Outsiders, they're ranked 31st against the run with a 21 percent DVOA. St. Louis has allowed four rushing touchdowns through two games.
To be fair, those numbers are a reflection of their two opponents. The Rams focused on the secondary and stopping Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson in Week 1, which worked through the fourth quarter for the most part. The Redskins rushing attack includes an extra element in RGIII, whose ability to move the ball with his legs makes defending that offense a more complex task.
The key to stopping the run for the Rams starts up front, with stout defensive line play and an ability to get pressure from the ends, a very favorable matchup. The linebackers will also have to be focused. Jo-Lonn Dunbar had an incredible game last week keeping RGIII contained, flashing speed and the ability to move laterally across the field in pursuit.
Bottling up the run has another advantage, putting more pressure on Jay Cutler and spotlighting the matchup of Chris Long and Robert Quinn versus some suspect tackles. That's where the real fun begins.