Bears ditch pass-happy offense in win
You bring in your own Brett Favre, because Chicago has always wanted one. Then, you bring in a passing-game guru to change a Neanderthal franchise, the Chicago Bears, into something modern.
And what do the Bears do with quarterback Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Martz, The Genius? They lose. They get Cutler killed.
They can’t run the ball, get run over and look like the class wimp.
Lovie Smith took the game away from Martz on Sunday. Just took it away. It is the end of The Genius.
The Bears beat Carolina and Cam Newton 34-29 because Smith didn’t let The Genius tinker or re-invent. Or pass. Smith decided that the Bears were going to be the Bears again. Running off the bus, as he used to say. And afterward, Chicago fans were surely celebrating with massive beef sandwiches, beer and grunting. Their husbands were, too.
But what do you do now with The Genius? Turns out, he was a one-hit wonder when he ran that offense in St. Louis, The Greatest Show on Turf. Since then, teams keep bringing him in, looking for him to re-create his magic.
He can’t. Smith realizes that now. It’s about time.
“We ran for five yards on the first play of the game,’’ Bears receiver Roy Williams said. “And they gave us a standing ovation.’’
Last week against Green Bay, the Bears ran 12 times for 13 yards. This time, they had eight runs for 102 yards . . . on their first drive. And no passes.
There was no way the Bears were going to throw on that drive. Was that the plan?
“Yeah, just look at it,’’ Smith said. “We don’t just get out there and start making up stuff.’’
Third-and-goal from the 4 on that first drive. Even then, Cutler ran a draw. It didn’t work, and the Bears ended up with a field goal.
But Smith’s message was sent. It was a message to the team that this is what they’re about from now on. It was a message to The Genius.
This isn’t his offense anymore. So Matt Forte, who ran for two yards last week, ran for 205 this time. And Cutler, Chicago’s very own Favre, completed just nine passes.
The game had a back-to-roots feel for the Bears, but the truth is, this isn’t going to work either. The Bears should have crushed Carolina. Newton’s mechanics are developing at an amazing pace. So his passes are fairly accurate already, one fourth of the way into his rookie season. He shows amazing patience and elusiveness.
But he is a one-man show. That doesn’t work in the NFL. It almost worked against the Bears.
Smith was right to stomp down on The Genius, but let’s not get carried away with how well it reflects on the head coach.
Cutler was getting killed last year, too. Then, seemingly out of mercy, The Genius gave up on the seven-step drop, which had been giving defenses too much time to run over the Bears’ offensive line. It wasn’t exactly what The Genius wanted, but it did help the Bears to reach the NFC title game.
This year, with an even worse offensive line, The Genius went back to his plan. After the second game, Smith said the team needed balance, and The Genius apologized publicly and said he would change. Then, they came back the next week and ran even less.
The guy cannot stop himself. Someone had to.
But keep a few things in mind about Smith. Two weeks ago, someone asked Smith why he didn’t just tell his coordinator during the game to start running the ball? Smith said he didn’t want to give away team secrets by answering that question.
Or something like that.
Then against Green Bay, still no mid-game changes from Smith.
And look at an even bigger picture. Smith must own the world record for firing assistant coaches. He came to Chicago saying he didn’t want NFL-experienced assistants, but rather college guys. Rah-rah guys to keep the team motivated.
That didn’t work, as the players didn’t respect their position coaches.
So Smith fired almost everyone and started over. At one point, he put his puppet and friend in as the defensive coordinator. Now, he has three former NFL head coaches as assistants, including The Genius.
So much for his philosophy.
And Smith has always talked about playing Chicago Bears football.
Coming off the bus running. Then, he had trouble finding anyone to take the coordinator’s job and ended up with . . . The Genius?
His offense was a thrill on that 1999 St. Louis team that won the Super Bowl. But for a guy who doesn’t seem to care about quarterback protection, he just so happened to have one of the greatest tackles of all time, Orlando Pace, saving his QB’s, um, back.
Eventually, the plan stopped working. So The Genius took the coordinator’s job at Detroit, where it didn’t work. Then San Francisco, where it didn’t work.
Now he’s in Chicago, where a pass-happy coordinator now will call a gameplan based on the meddling of his defense-minded boss.
What a mess. But it did work for a day. He doesn’t talk to media after games, but you can only imagine what he was thinking Sunday.
Has he ever thrown as little as he did Sunday?
“Whooo,’’ said Williams, who played for him in Detroit. “Running wasn’t our thing in Detroit really.’’
Neither was winning.