Let's face it, kids, the Bears got owned yesterday, but you know what? It was by a good opponent. We were close with them into third quarter and I think it's fair to say that until Saints defensive coordinator realized he had us where he wanted and just started teeing his men off, we were in the game. It's one loss and it certainly hurt but frankly, it's not the end of the world. I am still worried about facing another blitz-happy defense this week but we have a whole six more days to worry for that. Today I am going to be exploring what the heck Mike Martz was thinking yesterday.
Now this loss can be blamed on a few different things but a lot of it needs to fall on Mike Martz. As Steven pointed out in this morning's "Notes, Scribbles and Things Jotted Down" post, the Bears had five (5) rushing attempts after the first quarter. Martz didn't even try to get it established, it never really got going so he just straight up abandoned it the rest of the way. The run game is something that can be built up throughout a game. In the first quarter there are a lot of one, two yard carries and maybe even one or two negative runs but as the game goes on you wear down the defense and those start to turn into three, four and even five yard runs. Martz is fatally flawed. Let me remind you what Martz said on Aug. 3, 2011:
"That mix that we had I would expect to be very similar to. I would hope that it ends up that way. If you start throwing the ball more than 35 times in a game, generally it’s not good."
So then, Mike, how do you explain Jay's 45 drop backs yesterday? And I swear, if Martz comes out on Wednesday or whenever he's available to the media next and uses his cop out excuse "We were behind most of the day" save it. Just save it. You used it last year in defending the Seahawks and Redskins game and it was as lame then as it is today. We were ahead 7-3 at the end of the first and then ran the ball five times the rest of the way, including when we were still within three in the third quarter.
Now if Martz just panicked that would be ridiculous. This guy won a Super Bowl and was a head coach in this league. He should not panic with his play calling. Especially when he works next to one of the most level-headed coaches in the league in Lovie Smith. Smith is the one who is always "stay the course" and doesn't do a whole lot of "throw away the game plan because we're screwed" at least not after one quarter.
Lastly, though, I want to point out that Martz's original game plan wasn't actually that awful. It looked like he built it around Matt Forte, which was the right thing to do. Early on he tried to run it with him but also get him involved in the pass game, specifically with screens. Had he not abandoned the run I think he had a good plan to go at the Saints. This was still reflected with Forte's 166 yards from scrimmage.
It's all for naught, however. Another thing that killed the Bears was the injuries to the offensive line. Just when we were getting some consistency Gabe Carimi went down. As if we needed a refresher course in why Frank Omyiale sucks, we were certainly reminded yesterday. Hopefully Carimi's injury isn't too bad but it's going to be a rough go against the Packers if he can't go.
And let's not forget that the Saints had 10 days to prepare for the Bears, after losing on the road in the opener to the defending champs. There was a lot of motivation for this team to come out strong at home and for the defense to play better. That still doesn't excuse the Bears, but it helps me sleep at night.
If there is anything good, it's that the Bears aren't done yet. The schedule favors them after the Packers. Even if we are 1-2 heading into October we can go 9-4 the rest of the way. The season is not lost with this one game. We know Lovie will get this team to play up to the Packers. Martz just needs to play-call up to the Packers.