Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On the Bears as They Head to London


The Bears are a good team. When they play within themselves--to their strengths and are true to themselves, they do well--and who knows how far they can go. When the Bears hired Mike Martz, they got someone whose system offered both opportunity and challenges to QB Jay Cutler who is both smart and gifted. Martz was particularly kind to Cutler, frequently trying to deflect heat from critics. Long-time Bears fans know that coaches can scar a QB at critical points in his career, which in some cases has seemingly ruined some talented players.

Martz's system is still a little ahead of the Bears personnel. Last year, he had to scale things back at the break and this year the system has just been too challenging for several key players and the offensive line. What we saw against the Vikings was a realistic approach with adjustments to the existing talent. It should be noted that the Bears have a great deal of talent on offense, but just not the right mix of experience and talent to manage Martz system fully loaded--yet.

Under the modified Martz system, Devon Hester looked like a first class receiver against the Vikings and it just seemed like most everyone was in the right place most of the time.

Some fans and writers still try to advance the position that the Bears should be a running team. But the Bears offense, like every other NFL offense, should have good balance. The Bears have Cutler, who is a very good passing quarterback, they need to use the talent they have.

Matt Forte is certainly a force. It's really wonderful to see someone who can make a "Payton-like" difference. But he cannot take the offense totally on his shoulders, at least not against many of the better NFL teams. Forte needs to build up steam before he can really allude tacklers. If the defense is keying on the run and gets to him early, he often gets stuffed. In games when Forte gets stuffed several times early, the Bears have a tendency to play pass more. If they lose, the media tends to blame it on the play calling as opposed to admitting that the Bears were simply trying to take what was there.

The Bears need Cutler at his best, Forte at his most allusive and their receiving corp playing heads up. They need their line to play within themselves and they need a game plan that takes all these things into consideration. I think Martz and Smith can provide that. Each year the Bears can build towards that more advanced Martz model if they choose, but for now, they need the modified variety.

And as most observers know, if the Bears offense can hold up their own, the defense becomes a real difference-maker--one that can dominate and intimidate the best of teams. That's Bear football and that should never change.

Photo of London Bridge by Jon Sullivan, Public Domain

Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout.