A meeting of the minds; Martz’s pass-first game must mesh with Tice’s need for runs to help O-line
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
32. Bills 182.4
Top Passing Defenses
1. Giants 146.0 yards allowed
2. Ravens 156.6
3. Chargers 159.8
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
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
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