By Laurence Holmes-
(WSCR) Offensive football can feel like it’s so complicated. Especially when you’re dealing with the intricacies of Mike Martz’s offense, but it really comes down to one thing: can you protect your quarterback? On Monday, Martz was happy with the offensive line play.
“It was a remarkable improvement,” Martz said. “It’s good news and bad news and bad news. The good news is that they improved remarkably. The bad news is we expect that now, no less than that every time they play.”
When the Bears protect Cutler, you can see his natural ability shine. The footwork looks better, the throws look cleaner because there’s more time to be mechanically sound. With another year in the offense, he’s comfortable. He can read and react and not waste time in the pocket thinking.
“Anytime you keep your quarterback clean and we’re gonna get better at that. It’s just one of our goals and we’re going to continue to work on that. We felt like we did a better of communicating and working together,” Roberto Garza said.
Cutler hit a bunch of passes of 20 yards or more in his limited time in the game because the Bears offensive line gave him a consistent pocket. That opens up myriad possibilities for Martz to roll through.
His approach to offense is to be the aggressor and not let the defense dictate tempo or anything else for that matter. Martz wants to attack, but players have to be in shape for this to work (which is why hearing the Bears saying Roy Williams isn’t is disappointing). Before the players even get to the learning stage, he wants their conditioning to be top notch. This offense is predicated on speed, timing and precision. He wants long routes and winded, confused defensive backs. But none of that can happen if the quarterback is on his back or scrambling for his life or has the pocket collapse on him.
“It all starts with the offensive line. We go out there and protect Jay, he’ll be able to make those plays and we’ll be able to score points,” Garza said. “With the skill players that we have, we feel very comfortable with what they can do and what we can get done with the offense as a whole. If we give Jay the time, the sky’s the limit.”
After Monday, the Bears felt good about keeping Cutler in the pocket. They were able to see the effect that seven-step drops have on the defense. Cutler explained to me that the more they’re able to do it, the more pressure there is on the defensive backfield.
“If you’re able to protect it, it’s hard on those DBs because they expect the ball to be out in a certain amount of time,” he said.
Cutler went on to say that the Bears offense is designed to take advantage of that type of defensive anxiety.
“They get anxious and start guessing and we start finding some big holes out there,” he said. “Our receivers understand that and get their depths and not only that, their speed and their ability to get on top of people is definitely shocking to a DB. So if we can do that throughout the year and be consistent about it, we’re going to be dangerous.”
Simple right? Protect your quarterback and everything seems easier. The Bears offensive line took a step on Monday, but Saturday brings a new challenge. With the game against Tennessee on Saturday, we’ll see if the Bears offensive line can handle being game-planned.
For more Bears coverage throughout the season, including live updates from Tennessee this weekend, follow Laurence on Twitter (@LHolmes670).