What I’ve always wondered about the Mad Scientist was: what did he think about his creation once he animated him? It’s easy to understand that in the beginning the Mad Scientist’s obsessive quest was simply about manipulating chemistry, re-engineering biology and warping the laws of nature. But what about afterwards? When he’s done marveling at what he’s accomplished… what does he see when he looks at this patchwork of limbs and stitching? When he looks into the eyes of his creature, what does he see? Is he stoically jaded, allowing his repulsion of anything beyond the manageable confines of his laboratory to ignore the potential soul within the creature? Or, deep down, is he like Geppetto, who truly sculpted what he secretly desired…
Does Martz care enough about this offense, about the guys on this offense, to let THEM stamp their character into it? Is he willing (and able) to remove his biases about what an offense should be and allow this creation to begin to control its own destiny? This week’s game demonstrated that Martz has learned what his team can do well, and allowed them to leverage the running game to control the tempo of this game. The key to next week: is Martz willing to let his offense continue down that path against a foe who KNOWS this game plan? Is Martz willing to trust his offensive line to continue to pound a running game against a darn good defense that will be looking for a rushing play on first and ten?
Stories of the Game:
1) Balance and Unpredictability on First Down – During the game, I saw a man holding a sign that said it all. It said “Run = Win”. Absolutely right! And Martz used that as the dominant theme of his game plan.
- First Downs: In the first half, Martz called 7 rushes and 7 passes. In the second half, he called 9 rushes and 5 passes (and one would think that he called more running plays later in the game, but that wasn’t true. He called 6 running plays on his first 8 first downs in the second half).
- On first down, the Bears rushed for 46 yards on 16 called rushing plays. That’s an average of 4 yards per carry on first down!
- That success with the run opened up the passing game too. Jay was 5 for 9 on first down with completions of 6, 7, 22 and 26 yards.
- On first down, Forte was a mixed bag of good success or no success. Forte ran 12 times. He either ran for 5 yards (six times) or 0-1 yard (five times). He did run once for seven yards, but in this game he either cut the Bears’ first and ten in half or made it second and nine (or ten).
2) The Bears KILLED em on second down – The story of this game may be the Bears’ performance on 2nd down:
- When the Bears were second and 9 (or 10), The Bears threw 3 passes for 17, 9 and 20 yards. They ran the ball for 6, 6, 11, 3 and 1 yard. Except for the one run of one yard, they were able to get themselves into 3rd and 7 range, which I have discussed before is the magic number for Cutler to optimize their third down performance.
- Interestingly, on those six 2nd down and five yard plays, Martz played it very conservative. He ran the ball 4 times, rushing for 3, 0, 3, and 4 yards. JC completed 1 pass of 32 yards and threw another incomplete.
- The importance of moving into 3rd and seven range is very important for this Bears team, and they did a much better job this week of getting themselves in that range.
3) Third Downs!
- The Bears averaged needing 4.64 yards on third down. They converted 10 of 17 third downs (59%). But, the numbers are much better than that.
- Thirteen out of eighteen third downs were inside 7 yards. Of the thirteen that were inside 7 yards, the Bears converted nine (69% conversion percentage). Of the nine they converted, four of them were converted for touchdowns!
- Outside of seven yards, the Bears O converted one out of four only because Cutler scrambled for 21 yards. They gave up 1 sack, threw two incompletions, and JC was pressured on all four pass plays.
4) YTF! (YTF = Why? + WTF)
- 2:29 left in the first half and we have the ball on their 44 yard line, bubble screen to Hester that nets negative two yards and we burn clock down to two minute warning. High pass by Cutler stops the clock at 1:55. With the number of times that we’ve failed to march down the field, and the number of times that teams have beaten our “prevent” defense before the second half, and based on how well we’ve been running the ball and could really just use a field goal to be safe, YTF would you pass again? JC throws another incompletion and the Seahawks are getting the ball back with 1:49 left in the half!
- 0:43 left in the same first half. Amazingly our defense holds the Seahawks, and we have the ball now at our own 32 yard line. We line up with an empty backfield. Hmm… I wonder what’s going to happen here (can you say Giants game!). Sack to end the half… we’re lucky JC wasn’t hurt going into the locker room!
- Up 28-10, we’ve converted two third downs in a row, and Forte lines up at QB in the Wildcat. Forte stands tall in the pocket, patiently looks downfield for a receiver to get open and promptly throws straight at a waiting linebacker. Do I even need to say those three little letters that everyone said at the very same moment “YTF is Forte passing the ball”!!!
5) Mad Genius Strikes: This was a good offensive gameplan combined with a really bad defensive scheme.
- The best call of the game in my opinion was the Bears’ first third down play. Calling the outlet to Olsen and letting JC throw deep that early in the game sent the Seahawks a message that the Bears were not going to play conservatively, that they weren’t “uptight” in their playcalling, and that they were more than capable to land big body shots early in this fight. Any confidence the Seahawks had for this game got rocked a bit on that play.
- Third and five on the Seahawks 6 yard line. The Bears lined up in a spread offense and the left-side corner is just twitching forward ready to blitz. JC takes a hesitant step back then QB draws up the middle, bounces off left tackle and buries his head to get to the end zone. A great call, a huge surprise, and another message that Martz is thinking of ways not just to react to a threat but to take advantage of it and score.
- A quick mention about the Seahawks defensive game plan: it was stupid! If you haven’t figured out that zones don’t work against Cutler, then you really haven’t been paying attention. JC’s arm is a rocket, and he only needs a little space to fire it in there. If he has all day, he will find a receiver. But give credit to Martz for forcing a bit of conservatism by the Seahawks D – the running game, combined with an attacking passing game on short yardage situations made Martz’s offense very unpredictable.
Two weeks ago, I was furious to see Mike Martz’s bone-headed offensive game plan against the Packers, emphasizing the pass and completely forgetting about the run. I believe that if he had used last Sunday’s playoff gameplan against the Seahawks and had used it against the Packers, we would have beaten the Packers.
I believe that Mad Martz didn’t respect the rivalry. I believe that disrespecting that rivalry is a sin against the Bear’s history and the legacy of our greatest players. I believe that committing this sin has ramifications that ripple across space and time, and that Mad Mike Martz should be GRATEFUL to have this second chance. But, this time, he better honor this rivalry by letting the grunts of our offense take it to the Packers physically and confrontationally. He better let the grinding running game serve as a memorial to the legends of Bear’s football, as a tribute to the character of this proud football town. We are not a “greatest show on turf” kind of town. We are a “worst turf for the show” kind of town, who revel in games where winning one grinding inch at a time carries with it a sense of nobility, chivalry and honor.
If we can turn this game into a trench warfare slugfest instead of an aerial track meet… we will win! With the blessed Walter Payton as my witness, we will win!