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Flipping the SeaBird: Week 6 Observations of a Mad Scientist

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. But the word “insane” is not how we should describe our “Mad Scientist”. The mind of the Mad Scientist teeters between “two” hemispheres: the frenzied side of muddled thoughts, fragmented logic and cavernous blind spots, and the lucid side of seasoned wisdom, ever-shifting imagination, and occasional strokes of strategic brilliance. It’s the occasional strokes of brilliance that make you want to trust the Mad Scientist. It’s these occasional strokes that make you look elsewhere to understand why the team isn’t having success.

But, the problem with being “Mad” is that Scientist Martz doesn’t KNOW that he’s Mad.

Mike Martz lost this game. We’re 6 games into the season. Mental mistakes, receiver mis-reads, and a mis-aligned strategy are now, as of this moment, ALL his fault. It is the Offensive Coordinator’s job to make sure his offense has a game plan they can execute and then prepare his team to execute that game plan. It is his job to ADAPT to a defensive scheme of ALL blitzes on X and 10.  It is his job to realize that teams are going to attack and attack (especially on the edge) and he has to build a game plan to use that against them.

But most importantly, he has to learn that Jay Cutler is not a Frankenstein Monster that will function at his control. Jay is not mindless; he is not immune to the collisions that he’s taking; and he is not going to throw at a 100+ quarterback rating while taking 6-10 sacks a game. Mike Martz has to learn to trust his offensive line, and his running backs, and his defense, and his special teams!

Until he does, the madness, unfortunately, will become contagious for all of us!

1) Playcalling

  • 1st downs:
    • 1st Half: 4 running plays and 9 pass plays.
    • 2nd Half: 2 running plays and 11 pass plays
  • Short Plays versus Long Pass Play Attempts:
    • First half pass plays: 5 were actually screens, slants or quick outs (he completed 2 out of 5).
    • Second half pass plays: only 3 were screens, slants or quick outs, all were complete for modest yardage: (+4, +7, and +5).
  • In other words:
    • First half, 9 handoffs or short pass plays versus 4 “traditional Martz” pass attempts.
    • Second half, 5 handoffs or short pass plays and 8 long pass attempts AFTER the defense had already established a heavy blitz scheme!

2) The Story of this game is 2nd and 3rd and long:

  • 18 plays were 2nd or 3rd and 9 or more.
  • The offense ran 60 plays, 26 were 1st downs. That means 2/3 of our first down plays resulted in 0 or 1 yard gains.
  • 15 of the 18 “X and Long” plays were attempts at long pass plays;
    • I counted 12 blitzes on those pass plays.
    • 5 of those blitzes resulted in sacks.
    • 5 blitzes were picked up by the line or backs (I even saw Olsen pick up a blitz… once)
    • 7 passes by Cutler were overthrown, thrown into coverage or behind the receiver
    • The fact that 2/3 of our 1st downs are not resulting in yardage means the disaster we saw on Sunday (and earlier with the Giants) is a self-fulfilling prophecy caused by the ineffectiveness and lack of commitment to the run and the short passing game.

3) WTF “The Coaching Errors Edition”

  • Before I get started, I have to give them one “good” decision that I, if I were coach, would have screwed up: I would have challenged the near-sack of Hasselback who did succeed in “throwing” the ball away instead of fumbling it to Idonije.
  • TWICE: Martz called this bizarre double-fly pattern. With Hester and Knox’s speed, I could “sort of” understand the concept: The safety has to cover the inside guy leaving room for the outside receiver, but it just looked like an easy read for the d-backs to swarm to the sideline…
  • ADD: another bizarre “flood pass” with Forte, Olsen and Bennett all doing outs at 5 yard intervals and you have Cutler throwing into triple coverage.
  • Late in 4th Quarter: Cutler has time and throws to Knox who catches the ball 1 yard PAST the first down marker, but by coming back for the ball, he was tackled two yards behind the 1st down marker. That spot was HORRIBLE. And should have been challenged. Instead, Cutler calls timeout because they can’t get the play in to go for it on 4th and 1. With over 4:00 minutes left in the game, why doesn’t Lovie understand the concept of challenging a “spot” – if they move the ball even 1 foot, he succeeds in the challenge and doesn’t lose his timeout!

4) WTF – “The Game Loser Edition”

It might seem a bit over-dramatic to call this play “The Game Loser”, since it happened with five minutes left in the 3rd quarter, but I believe that it represents the single biggest “Blind Spot” that Martz has as a playcaller. He believes that he has to score touchdowns to win games. He doesn’t understand the importance of having THE BEST Field Goal Kicker in the league and one of the best defenses.

  • With the score at 16-13, the Bears start a drive for maybe the only time in the game inside Seattle’s half of the field.
  • Following a Cutler scramble for 14 yards, a screen to Chester for 4 yards and a missed slant pass to Knox, the Bears are in 3rd and 6. And yet again, the Seahawks send a safety from the outside away from the single back. The Bears right-side tackle has no chance to get over there and Cutler is sacked outside of field goal range.

5) Mad Genius Strikes – None

6) Summary

I didn’t want to highlight the Omiyale holding penalty, the two Cutler timeouts that left us with no timeouts at the end of the game, the role of the refs who were terrible, the dropped balls, and the lack of run-blocking when we did actually run the ball. Because at this point in the season, those mistakes should be overcome by a better game plan and strategy.

We face a very precarious future. Teams are going to blitz aggressively for the rest of the season… we can only hope that our Mad Scientist has a “eureka” moment and invents this thing called a “false count” so Cutler and his line can ferret out where the blitz is coming from and call a new blocking scheme. We can only hope that he decides that committing to running the ball will actually make his mad offensive strategy more successful.

We can only hope that Mad Mike Martz doesn’t force us all to continue to bang our heads against a wall, expecting a different result from what we saw Sunday.

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Tags: Jay Cutler Mike Martz Seattle Seahawks

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