What are the laws of nature to a Mad Scientist? They are simply elements to be manipulated, to be stretched and stressed and examined through conflict. A “peer” to our Mad Scientist once said that Energy is equal to Mass times the Speed of Light squared (E=Mc2). Our Mad Scientist chose this week to stretch the bounds of these three “laws of nature”:
A) Energy – the Bears were supposed to lay down lifeless after their surprising conquest of the local town (known as the NFC North). Yet, somehow, the Mad Scientist (and his sidekick Ticegor) elevated the energy levels of their offense.
B) Mass – the “storyline” for our TV analysts and commentators were how good the Jet’s defensive backs were. What I saw were defensive backs getting away with numerous bumps and holds miles away from the line of scrimmage.
C) Speed – What is the force of mass compared to the speed of light? Using the misshapen logic that electrifies his cranium, only our Mad Scientist could deduce that the best course of action was to “attack” the DB’s force with our WR’s speed.
Now, there are numerous debates about whether Einstein missed a central element in his equation; there are many who believe that he failed to properly adapt his principle to the concept of one of the most important elements of nature:
D) Time - Our Mad Scientist (with a special shout-out to his hunchbacked assistant, Ticegor) found a way to bend time. The offensive line handled the Jet’s defensive front four better than any other game they’ve played all season. By giving JC three to four solid seconds, the offensive line allowed the receivers to use their speed advantage over the Jets DB’s, and ultimately stand up for their quarterback who insisted before the game that he would not shy away from throwing at Revis and Cromartie.
Stories of the Game:
1) Playcalling by quarter – I thought it was interesting the “style-changes” that Martz went through during the course of the game:
- First Quarter: 7 rushes vs 4 passes. Forte rushes 6 times for 44 yards and a TD. JC is 3 for 4. The Bears have 1 false start penalty (Manu). They seem in control with 10 points from the offense.
- Second Quarter: starts with a false start penalty, followed by a pitch to Taylor that loses 5 yards, then JC makes a bad throw that results in an interception and a touchdown. The quarter seems to “get away” from them a bit: 3 rushes vs 12 pass attempts. Forte only gets 1 handoff but catches two passes for 23 and 35 yards.
- Third Quarter: starts after the Jets attempt their ill-fated “fake” punt (how anyone thinks keeping their starting QB on the field is a good way to try to fake a punt is beyond me). The Bears only rush twice, JC throws 7 passes completing all but one and 3 for touchdowns. (2 rushes versus 7 pass attempts).
- Fourth Quarter: back to the workhorse – They hand the ball to Forte 9 times for 62 yards, trying to eat up as much clock as possible. JC didn’t do them any favors by throwing four incomplete passes. (10 rushes versus 4 incompletions). I would like to point out that there were NO penalties in the second half!
2) Martz attacks strengths (versus exposing weaknesses)
- The most important thing that happened in yesterday’s game, and it is a HUGE turning point for this offense is that Martz elected to attack their opposing team’s STRENGTH.
- If we go back to significant mid-game adjustments, like the Dallas game (shorter passes), the Eagles game (rushing outside), and versus the Vikings last week (runs up the middle), we can see Martz trying to put his guys in the best position to take advantage of a team’s weakness.
- This week, Martz chose to attack a team’s strength. Including in the first series of the game, JC attempted six “bombs”, completing three of them in the 3rd quarter. The Jets defense likes to play a lot of “man coverage”, with an “overload” blitz to one side of the line. The refs were allowing the Jet’s DB’s to maintain pretty “tight” coverage on our Receivers; and it became clear all of the Jet’s DB’s were aggressively anticipating the WR’s cuts. The best possible solution to this problem: don’t cut! Or make one cut and go.
- None of this works if the O-line doesn’t buy JC time, and they did a fantastic job protecting JC, giving up 1 sack in the second half. They “gave up” another one in the second quarter, but that was completely Cutler’s fault. He held on to the ball too long, rolled out and then hesitated instead of throwing the ball away.
3) Taylor has hurt Forte’s rushing numbers:
It has become pretty clear how poorly Chester Taylor has played this season. But I have found some interesting statistics which highlight the fact that if Martz had run Chester Taylor half as much as he had, Matt Forte would have had four 100-yard rushing games instead of just two, and the overall team would have rushed for 100 yards in every game (except the Pats game) since the bye.
- Since the bye (not including the New England debacle), Forte has run the ball 123 times to Taylor’s 63.
- Forte’s average yards per rush in these seven games has been: 3.50, 3.28, 3.88, 8.36, 4.92, 5.41, and last week 5.95.
- Taylor’s average yards per rush are: 3.90, 3.00, 0.90, 0.00, 3.66, 0.45 and this week 1.00. Taylor has averaged between 31% and 42% of the carries.
- There is a direct reverse correlation that shows that the MORE Taylor carries the worse the Bears are running the ball. In the 3 games where Taylor rushed for approximately 40% or more of the carries, the Bears rushed as a team less than 100 yards (88, 97 and 97 yards). When Taylor only carried a third or less of the team’s rushes, the team rushing totals were over 100 yards (102, 107, 117 and 117).
- In the +100 yard games, Forte’s totals were: 69, 97, 113, and 117.
- If Taylor had run half his carries, and Forte matched ONLY his total average yards per carry since the bye (4.49), Forte would have had two more 100 yard games (Dolphins and the second Vikings game).
- The good news is that Martz seems to be figuring this out, and only used Chester for four running plays against the Jets.
4) Mad Genius Strikes:
- What I absolutely love about Mad Mike Martz (in contrast to how much I HATE Ron Turner) is that every week, Martz throws in something new. This week, he introduced a fake pitch-right:
- Lined up shoulder to shoulder to the right off J’Marcus Webb as double flankers (meaning they are both in the backfield), Manumaleuna and Olsen overload the right side of the line. This is not an unusual running formation for the Bears.
- On the hike, Cutler pitches to Forte running to his right. Manu and Olsen both block inside, as if they are trying to seal the edge for a sweep to their side.
- Manu however ducks around and becomes a “pulling lineman”. Olsen continues to block inside, hoping to create a pile on the backside, and Forte cuts inside like the run is off-guard instead of to the outside.
- A pile starts building on the line as Williams (on the left side) has to fight off a bullrush from the DT, and Manu keeps pulling all the way to the outside edge ON THE LEFT.
- Forte cuts again and now is heading outside to the left. Manu gets a perfect edge block on the outside linebacker and Forte has a footrace with the middle linebacker. The run gains 12 yards.
- Another Early Timeout on the 7th play of the first drive! AGAIN!!!
- Too many penalties in the first half: two false starts and one delay of game.
- Here’s the big one though: 6 seconds left in the first half on our 39 yard line. We have no real chance to set up for a field goal. Teams generally need 7 seconds to throw a pass long enough (they would have needed a 31 yard pass) to give you a shot at calling a timeout and kicking a field goal. Instead JC scrambles for his life and takes a hit before going out of bounds.
- Martz, I wish you would think in terms of limiting the number of shots JC takes in a game. And that was an ill-advised playcall!
Time… time is the element that our Mad Scientist has manipulated and mocked the most. He has gone back in time (bringing out his “fastest show on turf” playbook to the Bears), then slowed time (trimming his playbook down to better match the personnel of his offense AND relying on his rushing game to churn through more time of possession), and now looks as though he is starting to accelerate time, bringing the Bears closer and closer to respectability a year early.
But time can sometimes runs in circles… and if the Bears lose to the Packers this weekend, then we’ll all experience a double déjà vu having to play the Packers twice in two weeks.
But, once again, if we listen to the expert analysts, then the Packers are the team to fear in the post-season, ‘cause the Bears have nothing to play for, and the Bears aren’t really that good anyway, not compared to the elegant Pack! It’s like someone who says it’s 12:00 because that’s what the digital clock says, even though the clock is flashing 12:00 and has been all season long.
If the Bears beat the Packers on Sunday, then they would have swept the NFC North. Wouldn’t that prove to everyone that they really are a good team? Lovie says “to be the best, you have to beat the best”! The Packers are NOT the best! They are just “perceived” to be the best by analysts who have gotten it wrong all season long!
Bears, take it to ‘em!!! It’s time to reset that clock.