Chicago Sun-Times

Bears feel offense close to getting back on track

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The Bears' struggling offense was the obvious focus Wednesday at Halas Hall. The Bears are 23rd in the NFL in total yards (305 per game), 17th in passing yards (251 per game) and 31st in rushing yards (54 per game). And they are tied for first (or last, depending on your perspective) with 14 sacks allowed.

Here's what they had to say about it, coming off a 27-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz: ''We just missed some things that we normally make. There were some plays -- and there were a lot of them -- where you make one here, you make one there and it's a different game. You have to make those plays against good teams.''

Offensive line coach Mike Tice: ''We had too many free guys, way too may. One guy here, and two guys going for the same guy. We've got to clean that up. And as you continue to plug along in the running game, you get that cleaned up. There's one guy here and one guy there breaking down. It was one of those games.''

Head coach Lovie Smith: ''That's why there's not a whole lot of panic about where we're at right now. We see [that] it's a play here or there. Most of the time when you lose a football game, it's a play here or there. And I've heard so much about our run balance and trying to get that right. But looking at [the Packers game], if you really break it down -- on third downs you normally have to pas the ball. Two-minute situations, you have to pass the ball. For us the other day, we have to do a better job on third downs to be able to keep that balance going.

''And regular first and second downs, we were about 11-run, 10-pass. So we're not far off right now. We'll keep working on those things and ... make a play here or there and we'll be back on track.''

Quarterback Jay Cutler: ''We've got to convert on third down - that ties into [all the other problems]. So if we're converting third downs and giving ourselves manageable third downs ... those third-and-longs at the end of the day, we're not going to convert a high rate of those. So first and second down, getting enough yards to put us in position to be successful on third down and keep the chains moving, keep the clock moving and keep our defense off the field.''

Panthers coach Ron Rivera: ''I think they've got tremendous personnel. A lot of it starts with Jay Cutler's arm. He's got an NFL arm. I love Matt Forte. I think he's a quality back in this league. He's like our two guys we've got here. We've got a great combination of backs. Matt reminds me of our guys and I like the receiving corps. And they've got some big tight ends. This is a good offensive football team. If you fall asleep on them, they made it to the NFC championship game last year, so obviously they're doing something right.''

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Lets not kid ourselves here, theres a problem on offense. Is it schematic? Is it the offensive line? Maybe the receivers? Scheme wise Martzs needs to stick to the run game, just because your down by 7 points is no need to totally abandon the running game.

Offensive line wise, I still think they need to shift some of their personnel around, namely Roberto Garza. Last week I was all over center Roberto Garza for not being up to par as far as calling protections, he didn't do to bad of a job this week. But, I still think they need to move him back to right guard, why you might ask? The running game. If you noticed last season once Garza was moved back to right guard, Chicago's run game improved. He was a key reason their run game came on late last season. Garza's probably the best run blocker this team has right now. Now, can Lance Louis be an effective run blocker? Remains to be seen? I'd still like to see Louis go a full game. If Louis can't last a full game, they might wanna switch Garza back to right guard, his more natural position, and plug Chris Spencer back in at center, his more natural position. Getting right tackle Gabe Carimi back will make a world of difference run blocking wise also.

As far as the receivers go, theres not much Chicago can do outside of a major trade. The bottom line is someone has to step up at split end, be it Roy Williams or Johnny Knox, if not, they're in trouble. With no outside threat, teams are gonna keep playing the run and Chicago's gonna keep being all out of whack, they need to step up GO BEARS!!

"We Missed Some Things We Usually Make"???

Sorry 'Coach' Mike, But I Really Can't Recall Your Version Of This BEARS Offense Ever Actually MAKING The Plays You're Refering To... As A Matter Of Fact? Your Playbook/Game Plan, Looks An Awful Lot Like The Terry O'shea/Ron Turner Versions We All Died With.. (* Those Also Never Looked As If Any Real Thought Was Put Into Them, Either!)

1) Look At What/Who You Have To Work With.
2) Use Your 'Expertise' To See What Talents They Possess.
3) Put Together A Game Plan To Accentuate Those Talents.
4) Actually T-H-I-N-K About What Your Trying To Accomplish, With Each And Every
Play That You Call.
5) And (Instead Of Coddling Your Own "Genius" Ego?).. Actually Apply Yourself To
Coach And Win A 60 Minute Game, Against A (Usually Better Coached) Opponent!

After All.. As Da Head Coached So Eloquenly Proclaimed.. "This.. IS.. Football"!!

It's definately time for two things:

1) We need to start seeing some good things out of the offense.

This week marks the first quarter of the season. It's a season where the Bears started the year with essentially a new line and a record number of rookies on the team. The defense is a veteran unit, but there are several new faces and old faces in new places on offense and special teams. There could easily be growing pains the first quarter of the season. If that is the problem, we should start seeing some more of the growing and less of the pain by week 4.

2) We don't need to panic just yet.

The Bears have beat a good team and lost games to the last two Super Bowl champs. We know they are not ready to compete in the playoffs yet, but it would be a mistake to think they won't get there before the snow fiies. If they reach the quarter pole at 2-2, they are in decent shape if the arrow is pointing up.

If offensive players in the line go for the wrong guy in a blocking scheme, who is to blame? If two of them incorrectly double up and let a defnsive player come through unchallenged, who is to blame? My first impulse is to think there was a coaching breakdown somewhere. Did those players making errors not make them in practice? And if they did, why were they not corrected by game time? Innate stupidity? Lack of talent? Rebellion against authority? Ah well, let's see what they do against Carolina, altough I think the big test will be containing the Carolina quarterback and pressuring him into making mistakes.

Kevin, GO BEARS is beginning to sound silly.

Paul, read my lips: EVERY ONE IS TO BLAME.

Who did they beat that is a good team? Last I checked Atlanta is 1-2 and looks pretty bad. They did manage to beat the over hyped Eagles at home.

Mike Tice might not be around long. He was the only one who really sounded like he was taking blame. lovie won't like that because he thinks that he is so much smarter than bears fans and martz is right there with him. The sooner tice becomes interim OC the better for all.

This offensive scheme has to many problems to be consistant and reliable.

The play book is almost twice the size of the one Turner(Norv) used and it is far more complex than the system Gibbs, Saunders and Coryell used. Both Coryell and Turner used to have special short yard packages not seen in the Martz offense, they used these in the red zone along with a TE. Also Coryell offenses lose their dimensionality when defenses know the team will not run and it needs the big play; this tends to result in low completion percentages and high interceptions in those situations, despite the high yards gained and touchdowns scored. Turner, Gibbs and Saunders all implemented schemes to help avoid this problem Martz did not.The Martz variant is a much more robust offense with a more complex playbook. It is a much more aggressive passing offense, frequently deploying pre-snap motion and shifts, with the run often forgotten. There is much less of a focus on play action. The Martz variant favors an elusive feature back who can catch the ball over the power runners the Turner scheme favors. The Martz variant has historically had problems when teams shut down the run and make the team one dimensional. If you notice Martz is more than happy to give defenses a hand in stopping the run which leads to him creating his own problems. Additionally, the QBs often take a lot of hits in this system. It is considered the most high risk of the Coryell offenses. Al Saunders designed a more stable version of the Martz offense, and while still complex he strengthened the run game and blocking, and dropped the most high risk deep plays. Gibbs added a power run game, Turner added big recievers to help deal with the red zone problems, Martz replaced the TE with a slot reciever and stuck with small fast recievers. This version is good for warm weather and a fast surface. But the lack of running game, short yardage struggles, QB hits, red zone problems, timing problems, complex nature, and general erratic style, tend ot off set the explosive gains it can have when everything is just right. Problem is everything needs to be just right. An injury to one reciever can ruin the timing in the offense, slow surface, weather, jaming, to much pressure, over complex nature, etc... The historic problems with the offense usually outway the pros.

So after reading that and thinking about his a bit, what is the real problem with the Martz offesne in Chicago? Is it Cutler, the recievers, the line, the scheme, or more?

Well here is how I see it, Martz built the offense for speed, that's why he got rid of the TE and he built it to be percise. And while he had a perfect storm in St. Louis of everything going right I don't think he really thought things out about Chicago. It starts with the QB and the recievers, there has never been a QB with Cutler arm in the Martz offense, but that is not a blessiing in this case, it is a problem. You see the speed in the Martz offense is suppose to come from the recievers, so is the timing, but if the QB has a cannon guess what he has to do? He has to hold onto the ball longer because he throws it with so much force it gets there to fast. Then comes the next problem with the recievers. Aside from execution and precise routs the recievers are suppose to be fast. Well are guys are real fast, but not trck fast, cause they are not on a track. They are on one of the slowest surfaces in the nfl. How does this effect the play, well it throws off timing, but also it means it takes longer to develop deep routs because the recievers are slowed down. Martz brought his offense to the worst place in the nfl he could bring it. Wind, slow surface equal thrown off timing, it's an indoor offense. Next you have the line, well in the recievers need a little more time to develop their routs because of the surface and the QB needs a little more time because of his arm and the surface then the line has to block longer. It's not a talented line to begin with and it's being asked to block longer than the Orlando Pace anchored line. Then their is the league, more 3-4 defense which are faster, more cover 2 to take away deep scoring, and in the last 10 years the league has shifted to a passing league. Why is this a problem for his passing offense, because his is based on perfect timing and because the league has been doing more and more passing, defenses have adjusted and gotten beter at defending the pass. Corners jam more, more cover two, very creative blitzing. Remember it was the 3-4 of the Pats that first hammered the Martz offense and beat up his recievers back with the Rams. Corners are fasterthan ever, quicker than ever, and they have all seen this offense for a decade.

So how do you defeat the Martz offense? First kill the run and you make him pass. Dictate when he has to pass the ball. It's vertical offense the deeper the pass the better chance you have of getting a sack or an interception. Teams are not affraid ot give up the yards, they now he is weak in the red zone because it is a vertical offense with no power game and small recievers. Plus he doesn't have a pass catching TE in his system does he, short yardage kills the speed he uses. Teams will give up the 30 yard pass, they just won't give up the deep TD very often. Packers killed the run were dropping 8 and rushing 3. Packers didn't use a perfect formula though, they played it safe. The Saints didn't, they killed the run, got the lead and then killed the QB. They did it with 5-6 man blitzes while the Bears tried to defend deep drops with 7-8 players. The Saints didn't care about the yards, they just wanted to keep him out of the end zone and new the system struggles in the red.

This is why Martz brought in Barber and Williams, he needed size at reciever just like Turner uses, and a power runner. It's the same reason the Rams drafted Jackson while he was there. Problem is Williams is not a very good red zone guy and he doesn't have the scheme in the red zone or short yardage to be very effective. The offense is designed to score on big plays not short yardage. Teams have decided to use his offense against him.

Well that's how I see it anyway. It's a perfect strorm of problems for the Martz offense and Martz hasn't adapted well to it. I think he could, but he is being really stubborn. He invented something that was great and does not want to change it. Common Martz even Coke has changed their formula from time to time.

One thing I forgot, do you wantto know why Cutler is regressing. 3 Reasons: First it's telling him totake high risks in the passing game, because that is what the Martz offense does; Second it is telling him to hold onto the ball longer and wait for the play to develop, teams are dropping 8 guys and it is telling him to wait when the line can not protect him that long, not to get rid of the ball, but to wait; Third it's telling one of the most athletic QB's in the nfl not to run, no it wants him to wait for his recievers to get open no matter the pressure, this offense says stay in the pocket and make a high risk throw. 8 guys in coverage on 3 recievers and a back and he is told not to run and to make a high risk throw.

Piece of advice to Jay, the next time you are third and long and the opposition drops 7-8 and only rushes 3-4 guys, make like Forest and run. You may not get a first down, but you will make them think twice next time. Use your athletic ability, don't let Martz help out the other team by taking it away.

"Close to getting on track"? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha ...

Wow, Creighton, are you unemployed and bored? You did a lot of pondering here, and most of it was sensible.I also had some thoughts about the problems the 3/4 defense presents to the Martz offense, but there are ways the offense can adjust to that even though the Bear defense has not done very well in that adjustment. Even so, I think the offensive line providing better protection would solve a lot of problems. I have seen too many games in which the quarterback of other teams could stand back and wait and wait until a receiver got some separation.I don't recall ever seeing Cutler able to do that. Even with three men rushing and everyone else back in coverage, Cutler was rushed.Maybe receivers do not know how to get separation or maybe half a dozen other factors enter in , but I would like to see Cutler have all the time in the world on a few plays this year.
Tommy, I never said other aspects were not to blame. However, the offensive line has been and still is a major weakness that, if corrected, could make a huge difference.Lip-reading has never been one of my strengths, especially on typed words on a computer.

Paul I wrote that from work just like I am writing this post from work. You know not everyone gets to live in your safe little 9-5 world. Lots of people have jobs that keep things running 24-7. I thought you were smart Paul and would have known that. Street's need to be kept safe, utilities need to be kept running, people need food, medical, emergency, and security needs. You think the world shuts down at 5 pm?

Dude that is insulting, to everyone who works late hours. Next time your house is on fire don't call 911 past 5 pm, nobody is at work.

Gee,Creighton, who would have thought you knew all those things. Some people work at crucial jobs 24 hours a day!! What a revelation! Next you'll be pointing out that the sun rises before it sets but is the reverse on the other side of the planet.On the other hand, I've been retired for 21 years after teaching at university level for 30plus years, so it's always good to have the obvious pointed out, especially if one has a habit of suffering fools gladly. I'll work on it.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on September 28, 2011 5:03 PM.

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