Each Wednesday throughout the season we'll identify one player, coach or area of the team that is under the microscope. This week, RB Chester Taylor is the choice.
It may seem like an odd time to put Taylor, who is dealing with a sore knee, under the microscope, considering he's coming off his most productive game as a Bear — he rushed nine times for 33 yards and a touchdown against the Lions and also had five catches for 31 yards.
He's still gaining only 2.7 yards per carry, though, and he has just 19 catches through 12 games. He made at least 41 grabs in four of the past five seasons. After signing a contract worth $7 million guaranteed in the offseason, Taylor was expected to split carries with Matt Forté and give the Bears a dynamic 1-2 punch in the backfield.
While Taylor filled a major void by becoming the complement to Forté, he hasn't quite lived up to the offseason hype yet. It's true that the Bears' offensive line isn't the stoutest run-blocking unit, but Forté has managed to gain 4.2 yards per carry running behind the same front five.
Chicago's offense could use more of a boost from Taylor in the final quarter of the season, especially with the weather becoming more of a factor in games. With wind and snow threatening to impact Sunday's battle against New England, the Bears might have to rely even more on the two backs to keep the chains moving.
Taylor has drawn his share of detractors over the course of the season. Some observers seem to suggest that the 31-year-old hasn't been worth what the Bears are paying him, but if Taylor makes a couple big plays in the final four games and helps Chicago advance to the postseason, the team will be quite happy with its investment.