Holmes’ Mailbag: When Are Offensive Changes Coming?
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By Laurence Holmes-
(WSCR) The last two games have been interesting and have led to some interesting questions from you. Let’s open up the mailbag and see what we can figure out:
Hey Laurence, Big fan of yours. Keep up the good work. Where did the screen game go against Green Bay? Both to Forte and to Hester. It seems to be the one thing the Bears actually do well (relatively speaking) but was hardly used last week. Do the Packers do anything schematically to stop screens or was it just left out by the Bears? Thanks for reading. – Paul
You’re right Paul. It wasn’t too long ago that we were clamoring for more screens. In the last year or so, the Bears have improved at it. I think that speaks more to Matt Forte’s skills than anything else. He has the chance to take one of those to the house every time. The Packers ordinarily would have been susceptible to being screened because they’re so aggressive when it comes to blitzing. The difference in this game is that the Packers spent most of the game dropping eight men into coverage. They used a bit of the Bears’ defensive philosophy against them. It was quite effective too. The Packers spread their net and there weren’t a lot of Bears receivers open. When the Bears have the right look, I’m sure you’ll see it employed again.
Laurence, I would like to know if the problems we have had with player development can be blamed solely on one person or if this is a larger philosophical issue that has infected the organization at a number of levels and individuals? – Colin, Near West Side
Colin, whenever there is a problem in player development, it can’t be put on one person. Before the Bears select a player, he’s scouted by the team in the college scouting department. Usually, when a coaching staff is entrenched like Lovie Smith’s is, scouts will look at players that fit the scheme. Coaches will take a look at player tape. They’ll get a closer look at the Senior Bowl and at the Scouting Combine. From there, recommendations are made up the chain to Tim Ruskell and then Jerry Angelo. Angelo likes consensus. He takes his scouts and coaches thoughts to heart, but ultimately, he makes the decision on who to draft. Once the player is drafted, then it’s up to position coaches to get him ready to play. So the success or failure of a player is on the entire organization, not just one person. Fantastic question my man…
LH, Whether due to a lack of personnel, its innate qualities, or both, Martz’s offensive system has been an epic failure here in Chicago as shown by our offensive ranking last year and so far this year. As Jay Cutler is the most valuable commodity going forward for the Bears, everything should be done to make sure he is protected as such. Therefore, the only move is to fire Martz immediately. Assuming the Bears fire Martz in-season, what is the next step? – Chris Bendik
Sorry Chris, I’m not ready to make that assumption. The Bears have problems on offense and I’m not convinced that Mike Martz is putting the team in the best position to succeed. In fact, check out my thoughts from Monday’s column.
I don’t think Smith would fire Martz during the season. He’s pretty loyal to his guys. That doesn’t mean that he’s happy. I expect that plenty of changes will be made to try to help the offensive players succeed. If Martz wants to stay employed for next year or get a head coaching job in the future, he’s gonna need to make this offense a winner.
Hi Laurence, Last year, during and after the bye week, some obvious changes were enacted that led to a very good run for the second half of the year. The changes seemed to be quicker routes that led to quicker decisions and throws, as well as a somewhat more balanced run/pass attack. Do you expect that there will be a similar edict handed down this year to dial down the classic Martz play calling, and if so, when does the situation get desperate enough that can we expect this to happen? Thanks. – Nick F, Wheaton
I do think they will make some adjustments. I think Cutler is better when he can get the ball out quick. This offense takes a bit more time to develop plays because the routes are so long. They need to find a way to take the focus off of Matt Forte. Defenses are keying on him and that’s not going to stop unless other skill position players can make the defense pay. Those guys (Hester, Knox, Williams, etc.) have to win 1-on-1 matchups. Cutler and those guys need to be better against zone defenses as well. Make the defense adjust to you instead of the other way around. That won’t happen until guys start making plays.
Thanks for a good week of questions. This game against Carolina becomes really important. Starting 1-3 would be a nightmare and the games after (Detroit & Tampa) look difficult on paper. Stay tuned to the Score for the best coverage and follow me on Twitter (@lholmes670) for Bears news and notes.