Going through and making my massive (well, relative to some statistical forays on this site) sack-dissecting comment in the Front Page article "Road to the Big Game: Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears" (Sponsored by Coke Zero and Wheat Thins? Really?), it got me thinking on one of the big worries on this site: Sacks, our horrible O-Line, and Mike Martz getting quarterbacks killed, and when you put them all together, how the hell did Jay survive? But something else was on my mind too... is Martz himself even his best comparison? Follow me below the jump for a closer look at the Mad Genius after year one as a Chicago Bear, and another guy with a similar weapon to our Jay Cutler who might be a better comparison...
(Warning. The following is a long post, and may contain incoherent rambling. Enter at your own risk, preferably with coffee, energy drink, or beer.)
The first thing to note immediately is Mike Martz has never had a quarterback with the mobility of Jay Cutler. What do the names Kurt Warner, Shaun Hill, J.T. O'Sullivan, and Jon Kitna have in common? (Aside from for no other reason should they be in the same sentence together...) All four are tendency pocket passers, plain and simple, with the mobility of Brett Favre moving towards retirement (too soon?), and all four experienced the First Year of Martz. Let's go through and look at the sack lines (again, if someone can point me to a Hits/Pressures database or something, by all means.)....
Included in this will be pass attempts and dropbacks (number of sack chances), net passing yards (after sacks), sack percentage, and for fun, number of rushes and total rushing yards. None of this will be new material.
1999 St Louis Rams (13-3): 499 pass attempts, 4,353 yards, 532 dropbacks, 33 sacks (6.203%), 431 Rushes, 2,059 Rush Yards, 13 TDs
2006 Detroit Lions (3-13): 596 pass attempts, 3,820 yards, 659 dropbacks, 63 sacks (9.560%), 304 Rushes, 1,129 Rush Yards, 9 TDs
2008 San Francisco 49ers (7-9): 509 pass attempts, 3,379 yards, 564 dropbacks, 55 sacks (9.752%), 397 Rushes, 1,599 Rush Yards, 10 TDs
Couple of quick observations. In Martz' first years with franchises, his teams are a combined 33-35 (including the Bears, 44-40). His 1999 St Louis Rams team had an insane offensive line and was overloaded with offensive talent. But to say he didn't run the ball is a bit off... He's really not much worse than *Andy Reid* here.
1999 Andy Reid Philadelphia Eagles, Year 1 (5-11): 474 Passing Attempts, 2,409 yards, 523 dropbacks, 49 sacks (9.369%), 424 Rushes, 1,746 yards, 5 TDs
2000 Philadelphia Eagles (11-5): 575 Passing Attempts, 3,124 yards, 620 dropbacks, 45 sacks (7.258%), 397 Rushes, 1,882 yards, 13 TDs
2001 Philadelphia Eagles (11-5): 522 Passing Attempts, 3,145 yards, 562 dropbacks, 40 sacks (7.117%), 412 Rushes, 1,778 yards, 6 TDs
2010 Philadelphia Eagles (10-6): 561 Passing Attempts, 3,903 yards, 611 dropbacks, 50 sacks (8.183%), 427 Rushes, 2,327 yards, 18 TDs
A couple of my observations on this. In 1999, after the crapshow of Doug Pederson, the Eagles had some guy named Donovan McNabb on the bench who got a few starts that year, and in 2000 got the nod to start for the full year. McNabb had many of the same tools as our own Jay, most notably good mobility. And if you look at the attempts and rushes... Not so different from our friend Mike. And until Jay, no one can say that Martz had a mobile quarterback like Reid had McNabb.
The other point here is look at both 1999 years. With roughly, almost exactly, the same run-pass distribution, Reid runs a prolific, pass-heavy offense, yet Martz is reviled everywhere as a quarterback killer on his third job in five years and Reid is one of the longest-tenured coaches in today's NFL. Then again, Martz has bounced around to teams with less than stellar offensive lines. The 2006 Lions, 2008 Niners, and our Bears will never be confused for the 1999 Rams, although I think we tried that last year with Noted Pylon Orlando Pace. Offensive line has been dissected here countless times; I will not go any further other than to say ours needs a better one and you need to read anything by Lester A. Wiltfong Jr, FD, Esq on the subject.
The key is, and as we all figured out, not necessarily balance for the sake of balance. Hell, this year alone, the Eagles only ran the ball 43.21% of the time. As you'll see below, even the Bears ran the ball 44.23% of the time. It's not running, it's knowing when to run.
But I ramble. Your 2010 Chicago Bears!
2010 Chicago Bears (11-5): 466 Passing Attempts, 3,015 yards, 522 dropbacks, 56 Sacks (10.728%), 414 Rushes, 1,616 Rush Yards, 10 TDs
So we notice that the sack percentage is slightly higher than in Martz's other stops, and also higher than Reid's Eagles teams. Honestly, is anyone surprised by that? (/crickets)
But you can tell there's room for much improvement here. It's no secret the offensive line is not great., but the combined 936 offensive snaps is the lowest of any of the years I've marked here except Andy Reid 2001 (+2). The Reid offense had Duce Staley and Brian Westbrook at RB for years; fine dual threat players, neither particularly excellent at rushing. Marshall Faulk was a complete dual threat, excellent at both rushing and receiving; while no one will confuse Staley and Westbrook with Faulk, having a halfback who can do both makes a difference. Forte can do both.
The point of all this is not to say that Mike Martz is Andy Reid, or that this is the worst offensive showing around or that the O-Line is bad. My job isn't to point out the obvious. What we're noticing is Mike Martz, with Andy Reid weapons of a mobile QB and a worse offensive line, actually ran a historical Andy Reid-type offense, more balanced than the traditional Mike Martz Airfence. And if the O-Line improves, is the Eagles' four straight NFC Championship Games out of reach? Even with the O-Line this year, the Bears still produced just below the 2001 Eagles offense.
So the Bears truly are who we thought they were... But better, and can still get much better.
There's another random point I want to make here... Passing games work. Martz has seen the playoffs five times, including this year, with one Super Bowl win and two appearances. Andy Reid has seen the playoffs nine times, including this year, with one Super Bowl appearance. Yet as I stated above, Martz is on his third job in five years, and Reid has been employed since 1999. I don't think it's much coincidence why Martz' sack numbers are higher; Reid's offensive lines aren't world class, but his have been more stable than what Martz has had to work with over three teams, all of whom have been less than great. I think for an example of what system continuity can do for a team, look no further than Andy Reid.
Random rant over (and holy crap that was much longer than intended), what do you think?