A meeting of the minds; Martz’s pass-first game must mesh with Tice’s need for runs to help O-line

If the

Bears’ coaching staff thought it was

under a microscope before, wait until quarterback Jay Cutler takes

the field Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field.

Coach Lovie Smith boasts that having four current or former NFL

head coaches on the same staff is a huge positive. The key this

week will be getting offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s pass-first

mentality to mesh with offensive-line coach Mike Tice’s desire to

run more to help a struggling offensive line.


Bears thrived behind the run last

Sunday against the Carolina Panthers — something they needed to do

with Cutler out of action — but they can’t rely so much on the

ground game facing a Seahawks defense ranked No. 2 against the


”If we can build on those things from Sunday and find a

mixture, whatever that mixture is going to be … certainly we’re

not going to be a run-first football team,” Tice said. ”But if we

can find the right mixture to help, gain some type of rhythm with

those guys, it’s going to help.”

Martz was heralded for adjustments he made against the Dallas

Cowboys in Week 2. The moves he made to combat the New York Giants’

fierce pass rush were less successful.

The biggest positive to come out of the team’s most recent

victory was the physical toughness the offensive line displayed

after getting pushed around through four games.

Now comes the real test.

Game-planning for the Panthers was easy. They were vulnerable

against the run, and backup quarterback Todd Collins hadn’t started

since 2007. What did Martz do? He ran the ball 42 times, which was

clearly the best course of action.

With Cutler back after missing a week with a concussion, it

won’t be as simple against a Seattle defense that defends the run

well but is No.31 against the pass.

Logic says this is a week to throw and throw often. The problem

is, that puts Cutler at greater risk while he’s recovering from a

concussion and needs to be protected more than ever.

It’s also important to maintain momentum in the running game

while Tice continues to shuffle a fragile offensive line.

This is precisely the point in the season when things could get

interesting, especially on a staff filled with former head coaches

who have their own philosophies and ways of doing things. No matter

how much politically correct coaches deny it, there are times when

members of a coaching staff have competing interests.

Tice may believe the best thing for his offensive line is to run

the ball, while Martz may decide the best way to attack the

Seahawks is to plan a full-out assault against an overmatched


Nobody is claiming any major disagreements have occurred, or

that Tice and Martz aren’t marching in lockstep, but the potential

for conflict remains.

”We’re pragmatic in our approach,” Martz said. ”When we play

a game, it’s whatever it takes to win. If we have to run the ball

40 or 50 times and that’s what you need to do to win, that’s what

we’ll do. Of course, it works the other way, too. It just kind of


Game plans depend on a lot of factors, but after five games,

it’s looking more and more like it will take Martz and Tice working

in perfect harmony to compensate for this team’s flaws.


Sunday’s game should be an aerial showcase if current

statistical trends hold true. Where the

Bears and Seahawks rank among the

league’s best and worst in top categories:

Top Rushing Defenses

1. Steelers 62.2 yards allowed

2. Seahawks 72.8


BEARS 78.6

32. Bills 182.4

Top Passing Defenses

1. Giants 146.0 yards allowed

2. Ravens 156.6

3. Chargers 159.8


BEARS 216.6

31. Seahawks 302.0

32. Texans 329.6

Fewest Points Allowed

1. Steelers 50

2. Chiefs 57

3. Vikings 67

4. Falcons 70

5. Ravens 72



7. Seahawks 77

32. Bills 161

Top Rushing Offenses

1. Jets 165.2 yards gained

T2. Falcons 148.8

T2. Chiefs 148.8


BEARS 98.6

29. Seahawks 79.5

32. Broncos 51.8

Top Passing Offenses

1. Chargers 337.8 yards gained

2. Broncos 333.0

3. Cowboys 326.2

23. Seahawks 197.8


BEARS 182.2

32. Steelers 136.0

Most Points Scored

1. Chargers 140

2. Colts 136

3. Jets 135

4. Titans 132

5. Patriots 131



28. Seahawks 75

32. Panthers 52