To the commoner’s eye, there is the mistaken belief that the Mad Scientist’s world is a world of “science”. Or, at least, the commoner thinks that the Mad Scientist believes he dabbles in a world of logic and structured reason and that he is mad because he is confounded by man’s inability to understand that logic. But this is not the case.
Our Mad Scientist lives in a world of magic. His madness comes (I believe) from the fluctuations in the rules, the shifts in patterns, and staggering alterations of what works one week and fails utterly the next. His madness is a madness born from desiring greatness, but the chemistry of his world constantly changes, and his formulas that worked once, only fizzle or fade today.
But, our Mad Scientist, out of necessity and with limited ingredients, has struck on something beautiful and remarkable. The rules of the world have changed. And what was a “conservative” use of a rather common formula has somehow morphed into something unusual. Though it is hazy and foggy now; it sparks at odd moments. And it is growing while he watches.
He wants desperately to help its growth, but he has learned that if he adds too much of one ingredient or over-emphasizes what was once a high-powered ingredient, it could diminish and fail. Yes, the madness of our scientist is born from the urgency of keeping a flickering flame alive with charcoal and kindling while a gallon of kerosene sits idly next to him.
Over the course of the last couple weeks, I think our Mad Mike Martz has learned something about Jay Cutler, and I think that Jay Cutler has learned something about himself. And I think this combination is growing in confidence and intensity. It’s still early, and we still haven’t beaten a “good” team yet. But our offense moved the ball on a pretty good defense on Thursday despite not having the best field position.
- MORE Unbalanced Playcalling favoring the RUSH: 33 total “attempted” pass plays versus 36 rushing plays.
- On first down: 19 Rushing Plays versus just 9 Passing Plays.
- Why Pass on first down?
- On first down, Matt Forte ran for gains of +20, +11, and +9 four times!
- In first half, Forte rushed for an average of 6.4 yards on 1st down
- In second half (not including last two drives where it was obvious we were running out the clock), Forte rushed for an average of 5 yards on 1st down.
- JC’s Performance:
- Cutler: 16 for 25, 156 yards, 1 INT
- On 3rd Down: 10 of 18 for 56%
- Rushing yardage total: 107 yards.
- Forte: 25 rushes for 97 yards (3.9 average)
- Taylor: 11 rushes for 10 yards (0.9 average)
- Interesting disparity in rushing success:
- For Forte: 14 out of 25 rushes went for 3 yards or more. Six rushes went for 0 or negative yards.
- For Taylor, only three rushes went for 3 yards or more (longest run 5 yards). 5 out of 11 rushes went for zero or negative yards.
2) It’s time to bring out the Accountability Club: Chester Taylor is TERRIBLE!
- On a sweep left, the left end gets upfield in a hurry, and Taylor’s first instinct is to try to bubble AROUND him, deeper into the backfield. He takes a step before realizing that’s a REALLY bad idea and runs north again and fights back to the line of scrimmage.
- Off-tackle right, Dolphins over-pursue to their left-side, CT sees the cutback late, and when he finally does, slips. Minus 2.
- 2nd and goal on the 5. Counter to the left side, he has Manu and Williams pulling. The blocks are there for a second but falter. Taylor showed neither a burst through the arms of the Defensive lineman (who was still being blocked) nor patience to set up the blocks. If he showed patience or cutback, he would have scored!
- It’s time to demote Taylor to 3rd string for a game. He is demonstrating all of the focus and intensity of a player who just got his big payday and doesn’t care anymore.
3) Messing with their Defense (The Game Plan):
- This offensive line make-up is starting to “figure it out”! They did a great job picking up blitzes, and a pretty aggressive rush. They’re still not pushing guys OUT of the hole, but they’re engaging them enough that Forte can find his gaps.
- Anyone notice that Olin Kreutz did NOT pull this week? Hmm… Mike Tice – if you are reading this (as I suspect you are) – good job figuring out the line this season!
- Webb has 3 holding penalties, and for some reason I don’t mind.
- Two of them were ticky-tack calls (I have no idea what ticky-tack means by the way!) that were the type of calls you would expect to go against rookies.
- One of them saved Cutler from a big hit, so I don’t mind that at all.
- One of them negated Taylor’s only big run of the day, a +14 yard off-tackle where he actually hit the hole with some explosiveness. That one I minded!
- Having success running the ball has definitely limited the blitzing options of the other defenses. A big reason for those +9 yard gains were because of a limited second tier. When linebackers are out of position (thanks to a blitz), the secondary has to step up and make tackles.
4) The Magic Ingredient:
- I think I figured out the source of Martz’s focus and the magic of this team: Jay Cutler only needs to be 7 yards away from a first down to be a lethal 3rd down converter.
- Over the last 3 games, if Jay is within 7 yards of a first down, he has converted on 73% of them. 3rd and 7 or shorter:
- 2 of 4 at Buffalo
- 9 of 11 at Minnesota
- 8 of 11 at Miami
- If he’s longer than that… yikes! 3rd and 8+:
- 5 of 8 at Buffalo (amazing actually)
- 2 of 8 at Minnesota
- 2 of 6 at Miami
- 41% conversion (which is still not terrible)
- Either way, their 3rd down production has been tremendous since the bye week. The point is: when we run the ball for 1 yard on 1st down and 2 yards on second down, we have ‘em right where we want ‘em, because…:
- Blitzes are less effective, because…:
- The quick slants are available.
- The quick outs are available.
- Emergency hitches are available.
- And every 3 yard pass turns into 4 more yards after the catch!
- Blitzes are less effective, because…:
5) The Story of this game is: Jay Cutler’s animation
- Last week, I mentioned how Mad Martz’s creation was showing “twitches” of life.
- This week, Jay Cutler ran onto the field to congratulate… wait for it… his KICKER!!!
- Jay ran onto the field to congratulate Robbie Gould for making the game 9-0.
- He was “laughing” with J’Marcus Webb after his 3rd holding penalty.
- He was yelling at his Offensive Coordinator for calling a pass play (which resulted in a sack) when there was only three minutes left in the game and they were 3rd and 13.
- Despite his brash and gruff demeanor, the Bears NEED Jay Cutler to lead this team. They need him to be passionate, to demonstrate an urgency as this season moves on.
6) Mad Genius Strikes:
- With the score 9-0, and the Bears unable to get a touchdown on their last 1st and goal, The Bears line up in an unusual formation (that looks deceptively like the same old formation):
- The Bears line up TWO flankers to the left side (they are both OFF the line). They line up a wide receiver to the right who is ON the line.
- Why is this important: because they moved Manumaleuna to the Left “Tackle” spot, but because he wasn’t “covered” by a wide receiver (remember those two flankers who were “off the line”), he was officially a “tight end”. They moved Omiyale over to the RIGHT side (remember how they had a wide receiver over there who had him “covered”), which means he is officially a second “Tackle”.
- That means, on our right side, we had Garza, Webb AND Omiyale. Forte runs right, and our three best rush blockers do a number on Miami! Forte was essentially untouched!
- Spoiler alert: Manu is an “eligible receiver” in that position. Watch for that formation again sometime in the future, where Manu goes out for a pass.
7) WTF – “Taylor is Terrible” Encore Edition
- Chester Taylor has had 76 rushes for 216 yards on the year. That’s a 2.8 average per rush.
- “The line hasn’t been getting a good push”, “Olin can’t pull”, “Martz is too pass happy”. All of these excuses are starting to fade away.
- Taylor represents 28% of our running back rushing attempts, and he is at 2.8 yards per rush. Forte, on the other hand, represents 72% of rushes and has a 3.8 yards per carry average. Maybe, the issue is Taylor!
- No “maybe” isn’t the word. “Chester Taylor, you are the weakest link!”
8 ) Summary
Miami (after Thursday) is the 5th best defense at fewest yards allowed and 8th with most sacks. We played a GOOD defense on Thursday and had some really good things happen: sustained drives, great 3rd down conversion rate, and rushed the ball well (Forte almost had over 100 yards). Jay showed some urgency and some passion. And the Defense played outstanding against an average 3rd string quarterback and a banged up offensive line.
So, is the team half-empty or half-full? We still haven’t beaten a “good” team. The Vikings got mauled by the Packers. The Eagles beat a team that beat us BAD a few weeks ago. But, are we still the same offensive team from that loss to the Giants?
This week is the real test. But, it’s not a Pass / Fail. If we lose this game, it’s not that we lost, but whether we “competed”. If we get blown out, then we’ll know that the Bears are just pretenders. If they win, we’ll know that they’re legitimate contenders. If we can compete, if we can just keep it close and give ourselves a chance to win this game, then we’ll need Mad Mike Martz’s ingenuity down the stretch. This team, this offense, this quarterback will represent for him, the ultimate test. Can he build a bonfire with just kindling?