CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: Can Offensive coordinator Mike Martz make the necessary adjustments off the bye week, to put this Bears team over the hump? (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
It's been an up and down season for the Bears offense. Had some highs (Detroit, Dallas, and Carolina) and some very bad lows (Giants, Seattle, and Washington). I guess us Bears fans expected a slow start from the offense, considering it's a new scheme and we had 3 players starting at new positions on the offensive line. But it makes you wonder if Mike Martz would have been wise to give the offense tablespoons of his version of the Coryell/Zampese offense and just added on each week. The 1999 St. Louis Rams were the greatest show on turf, yet according to Isaac Bruce and Ricky Proehl it took them a lot of time to grasp an offense whose playbook had 400+ pages of plays and variations. Martz doesn't have close to that kind of personnel here in Chicago, and as a matter of fact you can argue that he doesn't have the Detroit caliber personnel here.
What Martz does have is a top 5 ranked defense and one of the best all around special teams units in the league. He needs to push his ego to the side and lean on those two units until he has the right personnel to run his scheme. I really don't fault the man for trying to prove a point around the NFL that he's still an offensive genius, but there's a better way of going about that, and that's scaling it back to where your offensive players don't feel overloaded. It would say a lot about Martz if he can come out of this bye week scaling back the offense just a bit to where he's exposing his players' strengths and not their weaknesses.
Martz needs to figure out who is his other best wide receiver on the team. Devin Hester, the team's #1 wide receiver, has 18 receptions for 182 yards and 1 touchdown through 7 games. Those numbers tell me that they are letting Hester focus more on punt returning rather than receiving. The scaling back of Hester's receiving duties has pretty much already started, so Martz needs to find a receiver that is best suited to play that Z position in his Coryell offense. A lot of fans will immediately scream for Devin Aromashodu to take that position, but Earl Bennett might be better suited to play that split end receiving position. Reasons for this are because he's better than any receiver on the roster at fighting off press coverage and he's the team's best slot receiver (that will benefit when he motions around the line of scrimmage). Bennett and Knox on the outside makes sense because it gives you both reliability and the threat to attack downfield.
Putting an emphasis on Cutler to be consistent with his mechanics is also something fans hope Martz will work on with Jay during this week. Looking at Cutler's performance up until the bye, you can see that some of his struggles to complete some of the easiest passes were due to him not setting his feet and stepping into his throw. The offensive line takes some of the blame for Cutler throwing off his back foot, but even when Cutler had time he would still sometimes have the tendencies to throw off his back foot. Martz is a pretty good QB coach so I expect him to be going over these issues with Cutler.
The last thing that Martz will need to do coming out of this bye week is to limit his use of 7 step drops. Martz needs to get it through his head that his tackles are not good enough to hold their blocks that long. Implementing more quick passes off 3 and 5 step drops will help the line and hide their weaknesses. The goal for Martz should be to put this team in middle of the pack offensively because that should be enough to push the Bears into the playoffs. If Martz keeps running the offense like he has the past 7 weeks, this team will continue to sink and Martz will most likely never see an offensive coordinator or head coaching job in the NFL ever again. If he doesn't, this team will succeed and Martz will get another year to fully install his system and bring in the proper personnel to run it.