The Bears' offensive line play was terrible on Sunday against the Saints. That is clear.
However, the play-calling from offensive coordinator, Mike Martz was even worse. He put the offensive line and Jay Cutler in position to fail by calling a whopping 52 pass plays, and just 11 run plays.
Additionally, many of those pass plays called for a seven-step drop from Cutler, and/or an empty backfield, while Saints defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, called for blitzes all over the field. Defenders were in Cutler's face many times before he could even step back to the throwing position. Much of that is on bad offensive line play, but much of it is on the play-calling too.
Martz needs to call plays that suit the Bears' strengths. And right now, the only obvious "strength" on offense is Matt Forte. Jay Cutler certainly can be when he's getting the time to throw and when his wide receivers are getting separation, but neither of those things happened much on Sunday. And again, the time to throw is going to be an issue as long as seven-step drops are a constant in the pass play-calling, unless the pass protection on the offensive line REALLY improves. It's difficult for any offensive line to "succeed" in pass protection under such circumstances, and that's why Martz-run offenses are among the league leaders in sacks allowed yearly.
Forte, however, had a 42-yard run on his second carry of the game in the first quarter, as part of a balanced offensive drive that ended with a play-action touchdown pass from Cutler to Dane Sanzenbacher to put the Bears up 7-0.
And what sets up the play-action? The run game. Forte had five carries on the drive, yet only had five carries for the rest of the game. And what was the score for the rest of the entire game? 30-6, Saints. Don't think for a second that abandoning the run game was not a SIGNIFICANT reason for the Bears' failures over the rest of the game.
Plain and simple, there needs to be more balance on the offense. You would've thought Martz would know that coming into the season after we went through this exact same situation in the first half of the 2010 season. Many more pass plays than run plays were called, and the offense was a mess. Cutler was constantly taking hits from defenders, just like was the case against the Saints.
In the second half of last season, the Bears committed to running the ball. And guess what? They did pretty good:
In the final nine games, they ran the ball more than they passed it seven times. The two times there were more passes? Both of those games were losses. A direct reason why? Maybe not. The New England Patriots pounded the Bears' defense in Week 14. But it's fair to correlate success in the victories with the running game.Source: Brad Biggs
Well, Lovie Smith said after Sunday's loss that the Bears need to get more balanced on offense. Finally, it appears he may be taking some control of this situation.
And today, Martz actually took the blame for the loss, and says he's going to get back to calling more running plays:
From Jeff Dickerson:
"If you are looking for blame, just blame me," Martz said Wednesday. "It's just one of those things that happened. I did a poor job of coaching."
"What happened, to be honest with you, I got into a two-minute mode too soon," Martz said. "That's one of the things I talked with [Bears coach] Lovie [Smith] about. Going into that fourth quarter, once that turnover came, there's just a lot of things; it's just not simple. But none of them are a justification. We went into that game thinking we were going to run the ball quite a bit, again there are reasons for everything, it's not that we want to do that. Nobody wants to throw the ball that much. It's not fun."Added Lovie:
"We need to mix it up a lot more than we did in that game," Martz said. "We had a lot of pressure, more pressure than we probably suspected, and it puts a lot of pressure on some of these protections. We just didn't execute very well in a lot of areas. We just didn't play very well.
"We had one sack going into the fourth quarter, then we got into a throw it, throw it, throw it deal, really sooner than we should have. Looking back, I went back with Lovie and we always re-evaluate the game, what could we do better. In that moment when they are giving certain pressures ... there are a lot of reasons why. None of them are very good."
"Our run [to] pass ratio wasn't good enough," Smith said later in the day. "I'm not going to get in to what all happened, the private things we have. I'm sure Mike will tell you the same thing; we'll get the balance back up this week."
We'll see about that on Sunday.
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