The Bears were officially credited with 38 rushing plays (including the 5 Jay Cutler scrambles), and Cutler had 35 pass attempts. That's pretty close to the 50/50 run/pass ratio some fans and critics were looking for. The Vikings are good vs. both the run and the pass, so Mike Martz was probing his way around their D as the game wore on looking for cracks he could exploit. He found them. The Bears handled the Minnesota defense all day. Robbie Gould missed a very makeable kick and Cutler gave away at least a chance at three more points with the crazy Red Zone pick. I just loved Martz's reaction to the int.
Even though Martz had a more even play calling ratio, calling a balanced game for the sake of calling a balanced game is dumb. I'm sure Lovie Smith has been in his ear about running a bit more, but he's being smart with his calls. He's still trying to dictate to the defense by attacking and yet he's taking what the defense is giving him. You can dust off what ever statistical argument showing that teams with X amount of runs win X amount of times that you'd like, but the context of those winning games is never taken into consideration. Many times "Team A" has a lead heading into the 4th quarter, so they pile up 10-15 late runs trying to chew up the clock. Teams leading tend to run the ball more than teams playing catchup. Surprised?
Schematically, balance for balances sake goes against everything an offensive play caller is taught. From an Xs and Os standpoint, a play caller has damn near every play called for a reason. All the motion and shifting that Martz does is done for one of two reasons, to get the D to tip their hand, or to get the D to miss an assignment. The offensive coaches are looking for any advantage they can find when the defense reacts or dosen't react to the presnap movement. Running an off tackle run is pretty basic, but running an off tackle run after showing one look, shifting into another, then motioning away from your strength is another thing entirely. It allows Martz to run a basic play, but to pick up valuable data for a later play. It also allows him to run the same play, but from a myriad of looks.
I thought in the Buffalo game Martz ran a little too much. At some point if the run isn't working, you have to move on (24 carries for 62 yards from Matt Forte and Chester Taylor). But coming off the bye week I'm sure the Bears had a very strict game plan they wanted to execute. Run the ball regardless because the Bills are so bad at stopping the run. And even though they made a poignant effort to take away the Bears run game (why, I have no idea), the Bears still kept working at it. The Bears coaching staff drove home a point that game. They will try and run more.
The difference in the run game against the Vikings was they would pop a decent run every so often to keep Minnesota guessing. Every time I thought Martz was close to being frustrated with the run, they'd get just enough to make a difference. They didn't break any really long runs, but an 6 yard gain, a 10 yard gain, a 5 yard gain, a 4 yard gain, the little chunks came at opportune times in the flow of the game (Forte and Taylor went 32 for 102). Then in the passing game Cutler would work underneath, he'd buy time to hit a receiver downfield, he'd take off and get yards on his own.
I thought Martz got the better of Viking defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on Sunday. Martz did another good job in protecting Cutler by formation. The Devin Hester TD was a good use of a pick to clear him over the middle. The screen to Greg Olsen that was called back was a great call, as was the TD pass to Kellen Davis. How do you not have your defense watching out for a play action in that scenario. Their safety was playing deep and over the top of Johnny Knox, the lone split receiver for Chicago. Is it really necessary to cheat help to Knox? Even the announcers on FOX we're calling for a play action on 3rd and inches, yet Minnesota didn't have a safety anywhere near the line, so they let Davis get his dunk on.
In my opinion, the missing link for the Bears offense to click has been the offensive line, and the last two weeks the line has looked better. If the line is gelling Martz will be able to trust his guys to run the ball. If the Bears can run successfully they'll be able to run more play action passes. And if those two aspects to the offense are clicking the drop back game will be open, which will lead to the screens being more effective. Keeping a defense guessing is a huge part of he Martz philosophy, and I can just see his wheels turning anticipating where this offense is heading.