Bears’ Mike Martz believes in his system, but where are results to back it up?
RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org September 29, 2011 7:24PM
Jay Cutler used to ooze confidence, but the constant pummeling he has endured seems to have taken some spring out of his step. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: November 11, 2011 5:51PM
I’m all for rose-colored glasses, blue-sky hopefulness and whatever tools of positive thinking get people through the day.
But there’s a difference between optimism and delusion, and Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz seems to be having trouble grasping it.
‘‘We just missed some things that we normally make,’’ he said, referring to the Bears’ offensive woes against the Green Bay Packers.
Normally make where? Normally in practice? Normally in their dreams?
Certainly not normally in real games.
I asked linebacker Lance Briggs on Thursday if he has seen anything in practice that makes him believe the Bears’ offense is getting close.
‘‘To . . . ?’’ he said.
To getting better.
‘‘When you look at our offense, they’re going against the scout team,’’ Briggs said. ‘‘So when I see them, they’re always successful.’’
Maybe that’s what has Martz thinking the Bears are this/close to an offensive explosion. When it goes against the second- and third-stringers, the offense looks like the Patriots’.
Week after week, going back to last season, we’ve heard Martz’s smooth-jazz voice tell us that everything is going to be OK, that quarterback Jay Cutler is great, that the receivers are wonderful and that the offensive line is misunderstood.
His studied coolness has to be based on his time with the St. Louis Rams. It can’t be based on anything he has done here.
Lovie remains a believer
Cutler used to have a similar cockiness oozing from his pores, but getting the spit kicked out him on a weekly basis has turned him into someone a little more in touch with reality.
Luckily, there’s always someone around Halas Hall to pick up the slack in the optimism department.
‘‘A play here or there’’ is what separates the Bears from being 2-1 instead of 1-2, coach Lovie Smith said.
Again, confidence is great. Love confidence. But from where does it stem? Not from anything we’ve seen in 19 regular-season games with Martz and his offense.
Did anything about the loss to the Packers suggest the Bears were a play or two away from winning the game? Cutler overthrew receiver after receiver. Receivers dropped passes. The running game ran and hid.
After three games this season, the Bears are ranked 23rd in total yards and 31st in rushing yards. Cutler is tied for the league lead in being sacked (14). Projected over an entire season, he’ll finish dead. He led the league in that category last season (52), and the Bears ranked 30th in total offense in 2010.
In Martz’s defense, there are talent issues with this offense. The receiving corps is nothing special. The offensive line is unproven and dealing with injuries. It’s hard to tell whether running back Matt Forte can run the ball.
But the knowing twinkle in Martz’s eye — the one indicating that he received the good stuff when it came to brain cells — it doesn’t seem to match up with the current reality.
The reality is that the offense has been awful in the last two games. And there was nothing in those two losses that point to a sudden turnaround. There certainly was nothing in the game against the Packers that made you feel as though the Bears were on the verge of anything other than disaster.
Maybe Martz knows something we don’t. He’s probably saying there’s no ‘‘maybe’’ about it.
Maybe all his confidence comes from the fact that the Carolina Panthers, the Bears’ opponent Sunday, are giving up 117 yards a game on the ground. Maybe he sees daylight for Forte.
Or maybe he just lives in a world where everything is perfect and somehow about to get better. The world needs more people like that. The Bears need more people who can block for Cutler.
Defense has to do it
In the meantime, you don’t think Panthers coach Ron Rivera, the former Bears defensive coordinator, is looking forward to facing Martz? Like a beagle waiting for a Milk-Bone.
I started to ask linebacker Brian Urlacher whether the Bears’ defense was feeling more of an urgency to make big plays these days, seeing as how the offense was struggling. He cut me off mid-lame question.
‘‘We put the same urgency into our defense all the time,’’ he said. ‘‘It doesn’t matter what the situation is, what the offense [is doing]. We need to take the ball away. We need to get them good field position. We need to get three-and-outs. Touchdowns on defense, that’s been our mind-set the whole time coach Smith has been here.’’
Urlacher is right. He has enough to worry about with Panthers quarterback Cam Newton without the added pressure of trying to save the Bears’ offense.
It sure would be nice if somebody on the offensive side of the ball would come to the rescue with deeds, rather than words. We’ve heard enough expressions of confidence from Martz to build a monument to self-esteem. Imagine if it ever translated into touchdowns.