You know the scene in the Mad Scientist’s laboratory: the thunderous rainstorm booms outside while lightning crackles between diodes inside, a control panel flashes with neon warning lights, and the Mad Scientist paces busily but not frantically between devices. Sunday’s game held all the frenzied energy of that B-movie laboratory, and yet every camera shot of Mad Mike Martz showed a man who seemed perfectly serene in the midst of all that chaos.
Observations from the Bears’ 27-20 win over the Dallas Cowboys:
1. First Down Performance
Martz adjusted to the 1st half pass rush pressure of the Cowboys by… passing on every first down. It sounds like madness but in reality it completely worked:
- In the first 3 Series, Martz called 1st down running plays that netted 7, 5, and 2 yards.
- For the next 9 series of the first half, Martz only called pass plays. They net: 0, Touchdown (Olsen), +20 (returned Illegal Formation), -3, +9, Touchdown (Hester), +15, +7, +0 (25 yard attempt to Bennett – knocked down).
- In the second half, Martz returned to a balanced approach with 6 running plays and 6 pass plays on 1st down (but 2 of the runs were used to run out the clock).
2. Surprise Call(s) of the Game
Martz adjusted his playcalling and started running 3 step drops with quick slants and curls. The effect of these quick plays seems to completely disrupt the Cowboys attack schemes, and suddenly they were on the defensive.
- 2nd and 10 – Quick 7 yard slant to Hester becomes a 20 yard gain as he uses his speed to outrun defenders
- 3rd and 16 – Cowboys don’t blitz, rush gets handled by the line, and Cutler has all day to connect with Knox for a 59 yard “designed” bomb. (Knox hid behind Bennett as they both ran straight at the Safety, until Bennett cut across and Knox hit fourth gear).
- 2nd and 2, 1 yard out pattern to Hester becomes a 37 yard gain, saved by the safety but sets up the Bears for a TD on the next play
3. Jay Cutler is a TOUGH Son-of-a-gun!
- In the first three series, he was sacked once, knocked down four times and hit two more times. That’s a whole half of punishment in just the first three series.
- The Cowboys faced masked him bad enough to be considered a 15 yard personal foul on the second play of the game – no call
- On the first play of the second half, JC is hit in the head after throwing a screen pass to Forte – no call
- 2nd Series of the 2nd half, JC knocked down late – FINALLY the refs call Roughing-the-Passer – the Cowboys are shocked!
4. Juggling the Line
Frank Omiyale gets the job done. I was very hard on Frank last week, but taking over at LT for Kevin Shaffer who took over for Chris Williams who suffered a hamstring injury, Frank did a respectable job.
5. I wonder if Cutler got a brain transplant
Cutler threw the ball away 6 times:
- Cutler scrambles for 2 yards, instead of forcing it. Bears score their first field goal
- End of the first half, Cowboys blitz but it’s picked up. Jay doesn’t see anything so throws it out of the end zone. Bears pick up second field goal.
6. Cowboys pressure comes from Olsen’s side
- On the second play of the game, the Cowboys lined a linebacker outside of Olsen. The ‘boys then ASSUMED that he would go out for a pass, and blitzed right past him. The RT never saw him or believed that Olsen would chip him.
- Second series, 3rd and 4. Cowboys again blitz off of Olsen’s right side, JC rushes his incomplete throw.
- Third times the charm. On the 4th offensive series, Martz picks up what the ‘boys are doing, and calls a TE release. With the blitz on and man-to-man coverage, two separate DB’s don’t see Olsen thundering down the field until its too late.
7. Things that make you go “WTF?”
Devin Aromashodu was benched because…??? No one knows, even DA. In the last series before the second half, the Cowboys blitzed with linebackers from both sides, Cutler threw the ball up and even though Bennett had position, a CB was able to knock it away. If that was DA, I bet you he catches that ball. DA on the bench for an entire game? WTF?
8. Mad Genius Strikes
Bears line up in the same formation as Forte’s winning touchdown catch from the game against the Lions. Martz assumes that the Cowboys are ready for that play, which they are. Cutler throws a sideline fly pattern to Hester with man and man coverage on the other side instead. Ball hits Hester in the hands but he can’t hang on. But still a great call and good illustration of how “real” offensive coordinators link plays from game to game (not just series to series).