Despite all the advance billing, ''The Greatest Show on Turf'' won't be opening in Chicago this year. With cold weather on its way, Jay Cutler won't be starring as Kurt Warner, and Matt Forte won't play Marshall Faulk in the sequel anytime soon.
Mike Martz is still directing, but this is a different production with a different cast.
These Bears continue to reveal themselves week by week. What we learned Sunday in the 22-19 win over the Bills in Toronto is that this offense is never going to be the unit everybody hoped it would be -- not this year, anyway. Maybe not ever. But that doesn't mean Martz can't put his own stamp on it and lead the Bears to the playoffs.
One of the things that has separated Martz during his career is his creativity as a play-caller. We saw that ingenuity Sunday, and we'll need to see more of it because if this offense couldn't break out against the winless Bills inside on turf, it's not likely to have wide-open receivers running all over the field against the Vikings, Jets, Patriots, Eagles or Packers in coming weeks.
The offensive line turned in by far its most coordinated effort against the Bills, but tougher tests await. It's going to take some smoke and mirrors in the form of creative play-calling for this offense to help the Bears get where they want to go. It's going to take a commitment to the run and to rolling Cutler out of the pocket, where he is more effective. It's going to take continued improvement from the offensive line.
Most of all, it's going to take Martz keeping defenses on their heels from the sideline.
''I always loved playing against him as a play-caller because it was such a great challenge to see where he went next,'' former Seahawks and Falcons coach Jim Mora said.
''He has less concepts than coaches labeled 'gurus.' What he does a great job of is disguising his looks with formations and motion. He'll run the same play five times, and you won't recognize it because they operate it at a quick tempo and they do a great job at substitution. They run the same play using multiple position groups. It's really, really difficult to figure out what's going on.
''I always felt like I got behind on him. He works faster than you. He's out of the huddle before you're ready. He makes you go simpler defensively, and then he has got you.''
A tweak here, a gimmick there
The Bears don't need to score 33 points per game like Martz's 1999 Rams did to be successful, not with the defense allowing 16.6 per game, which was the third-lowest average in the league heading into Monday night's game. This is where Martz and his play-calling enter into the equation. If you're having trouble blocking, a misdirection flip like the one to Forte that produced an 18-yard touchdown run against the Panthers, might be in order. Receiver Earl Bennett got a carry against the Bills. Forte scored on a two-point conversion with a well-executed shovel pass.
''What Mike has always been so good at is he does a tremendous job of getting mismatches with his personnel,'' said Titans linebackers coach Dave McGinnis, who wanted to hire Martz as the Bears' offensive coordinator before chairman Mike McCaskey botched McGinnis' hiring in 1999. ''He does that better than any offensive coordinator I've gone against. The other thing he does is he gets to the same scheme in so many different ways with so many personnel groups.
''What's also difficult about defending his offense is they are so fast-paced. You feel like you're chasing the previous play, and that's not good. It's like a chess match. Sometimes you can tell when you're chasing your opponent. You can also tell when you are a move or two behind. A lot of times, I felt like I was chasing the play.''
Flexibility is the answer
Martz's cavalier attitude can be refreshing when he has players with the skills to make his offense most effective. It has been painfully obvious that he doesn't have the full complement of pieces in place in Chicago, which means he must continue to adapt to put these Bears players in position to succeed.
''This might sound wrong, but I love his arrogance,'' Mora said. ''I respect his arrogance. 'My stuff is good. I don't care what you do. I'm going to beat you with my stuff. It's proven. I've won a Super Bowl with it. I'm going to beat your ass with it.' I love that he's always attacking.''
What makes Martz unique and controversial also put a Super Bowl ring on his finger, but what the Bears need now is for an already creative play-caller to be more creative than ever.