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Chargers Can't Avoid Matt Forte

Contain on running back is Manusky's challenge

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears celebrates scoring a touchdown during the NFL International Series match between Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium on October 23, 2011 in London, England. This is the fifth occasion where a regular season NFL match has been played in London.

    If Greg Manusky can stave off Matt Forte as well as he does the San Diego media, the Chicago Bears will be in trouble.

    During what was described by a team spokesman as a failed search throughout the building, the first-year Chargers defensive coordinator kept the press waiting about 40 minutes Friday before the small contingent called it quits.

    Great lesson for the kids: Postpone something you'd rather not face, and magically, it goes away.

    Except the Bears won't.

    At 1:15 p.m. PST Sunday, ready or not, Manusky and his defense must meet Forte, the dangerous Bears tailback, and quarterback Jay Cutler at Soldier Field in hopes of snapping a four-game losing streak.

    The strong-armed Cutler is respected in his own right, but stopping the Bears starts with the NFL's third-leading rusher.

    "He's the most integral part of their offense," linebacker Travis LaBoy said. "We've got to hopefully contain him and really focus on him defensively. As he goes, the team goes. That's pretty much what that is."

    In nine games, Forte has 166 carries for 569 yards — 5.2 yards per handoff — and is just as dangerous as a receiver with 42 catches for 439 yards and four total touchdowns. Impressive. All team highs.

    But the numbers pop out when Forte's work in the outside running game is isolated.

    On 34 runs around the left end, he has 204 yards, or 6.0 yards per carry. On 40 around the right: 327 yards, an 8.2 average. Add up his work between, and suddenly, the high-flying Forte descends upon earth with 92 carries for 338 yards, or 3.7 an attempt.

    So, how do the Chargers stop Matt Forte? That's a question for the defensive coordinator; good luck with that.

    Keeping outside contain, though, seems a good place to start.

    "It's the biggest thing," coach Norv Turner said. "They do a great job with their perimeter runs, a great job with their screens, getting him the ball. He's a very good pass receiver coming out of the backfield, so we're doing everything we can to keep him from getting out in space where he's at his best."