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Lovie Smith should share blame for Bears offense’s debacle vs. Saints


Lovie Smith said thBears will have better balance run vs. pass against Packers. “We’ll get balance up this week” he

Lovie Smith said that the Bears will have a better balance of run vs. pass against the Packers. “We’ll get the balance up this week,” he said. | Bill Feig~AP

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Updated: November 30, 2011 12:18AM



Almost everyone involved felt the sting of criticism after what happened to the Bears’ offense in New Orleans, but somehow coach Lovie Smith managed to elude would-be cacklers. It’d be a shame to leave him out.

Smith has vowed the Bears will “clean it up” this week, and by that he means he won’t allow another imbalanced attack such as the one that occurred Sunday, when his team threw 51 times and ran 12.

Great, but where was Lovie against the Saints? Just to be clear, it’s not that Martz, the offensive linemen and Cutler were blameless for what happened in that game. You could blame any of them and not be wrong.

But it’s still not clear why the Bears failed to change course during the game, especially when their pass-to-rush ratio began looking like Ralph Nader’s odds of being president. After all, the Bears had been through exactly this situation last year when Martz’s mind started to wander while calling plays, and Jay Cutler’s body was in danger of being donated to science. Smith eventually roped Martz back in.

Was Smith’s headset not working Sunday? Or was it that the headset wasn’t working whenever Smith tried to communicate with Martz, who was up in the coaches’ booth? Or was Martz not answering?

Or how about this: Did it not occur to Smith that he could stop Martz from the homicidal tendency to pass the ball on almost every down?

“I’m not going to go in to what all happened, private things that we have,’’ Smith said. “I’m sure Mike told you the same thing. We’ll get the balance up this week.’’

‘Great trust’ in Martz

Couldn’t Lovie have forgotten about the Bears’ defense for a second, called Martz during the game and demanded more balance?

“Yeah, he could,’’ Martz said. “That’s kind of not how we do things. Lovie has great trust in what we’re doing and understands that. I think he understood too a lot of the issues that we were dealing with.

“If you’re looking for blame, just blame me. It was one of those things that happened. I did a poor job of coaching, and we didn’t play very good.’’

It would be nice if Smith got it through his head that Martz can’t be trusted on his own. In the way a writer needs a good editor, Martz periodically needs someone to save him from himself.

Because Smith refused to go into why he didn’t stage a Martz intervention Sunday, it’s hard to explain the rationale to leave the offensive coordinator alone during the game. I’m guessing no one needs to point out to Lovie the danger of a rogue Martz. It’s the image of a prone Cutler.

Asked Wednesday whether he could make it through the season while taking the kind of beating he took Sunday, Cutler rapped his knuckles twice on a wooden lectern at Halas Hall.

“I don’t know,’’ he said. “I don’t know.’’

Cutler got kicked in the throat Sunday, which is why he sounded like Don Corleone on Wednesday. The Saints sacked him six times in the second half, which is why he said he was sore all over.

Sore, he said, but not worried.

“This happened to us last year,’’ he said. “This is nothing new. We struggled with some things. We made some changes. That’s what this league is about. It’s going out there and putting stuff on film. People are going to react to it, and we’ve got to react back. That’s just how it goes. It’s back and forth.’’

Packers are blitzing bunch

There is panic in the streets of Chicago after two games because A) the Bears were supposed to be beyond the kind of beating Cutler took Sunday and B) the freakin’ Packers are coming! It’s one thing for the Saints to expose the Bears’ weaknesses, but the mere thought of hated Green Bay doing something similar is enough for Bears fans to act out in ways normally associated with mass psychosis.

The Packers like to blitz as much as the Saints do.

Martz is a bright guy, and three days after a game, he can break down the particulars of a game as if they were his birth date, Social Security number and his place of birth. On Wednesday, he said he shifted into two-minute mode too quickly against the Saints. Fine.

But as we know from last year, Martz has self-awareness problems during games. That’s where Lovie is supposed to step in. It’s nice he shows so much confidence in his offensive coordinator. If you were a coordinator, you’d want that kind of support. But Martz has proven he can’t be trusted with it.

The only thing at stake is the quarterback and, by association, the season.

“There’s still a lot of football left to be played,’’ Cutler said. “If this continues, then obviously we’re going to have a problem. We’ll have to adjust to it. But we’re looking forward to this game, and all those guys are going to bounce back, as will I.’’

One of the people in need of a bounce-back game wears headphones on the sidelines. He might consider using them.



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