Much has been made of Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s play selection against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday when the offense had a 52-to-11 pass-to-run ratio in a 30-13 loss.
“I know the balance wasn’t there,” coach Lovie Smith said. “All I can say is we’ll get it better. We can’t win football games with that kind of balance.”
Asked if he had a talk with Martz after the game about the coordinator’s play selection, Smith confirmed, but declined to mention specifics about the conversation.
For those hoping to see a transformation reminiscent of the one that occurred after the Bears’ bye week in 2010, when the Bears switched from a pass-first team to one that focused on the run, you may have to wait at least another week.
With the defending Super Bowl champion Packers invading Soldier Field next Sunday, Martz may have his eyes set on exploiting a weakened secondary that lost Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins for the season.
The Packers are ranked dead last in pass defense while allowing an average of 400 passing yards per game through the first two weeks. It’s understandable that the Packers allowed Drew Brees to throw for 419 yards in the season opener, but rookie Cam Newton and the rebuilding Panthers gashed the Packers defense for 432 yards through the air in Week 2. Two straight weeks of over 400 yards means there is an alarming trend.
Clearly, the Packers have a weakness defending the pass at this early stage in the season and Martz will try to exploit it. The question is, will Cutler have enough time to do so?
For as creative as Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was with his blitz packages against the Bears, Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers is just as innovative and also has better personnel at his disposal.
With early offensive line struggles compounded by injuries to Lance Louis and Gabe Carimi, the Bears may not be able to take advantage of what the Packers secondary gives them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Martz won’t try anyway.
That means it could be another long, hard day at the office for Cutler and a game plan filled with checkdowns to Matt Forte in lieu of the run game.
(Note: net passing yards — passing yards minus sack yardage — are used to determine defensive rank whereas gross passing yards factor into individual quarterback yardage. That’s the reason for the discrepancy between the Packers’ average yards allowed and the average yards from Brees and Newton.)