Archive for Mike Martz

I’ll Admit It — I Was Wrong About The Bears (So Far)

Posted in NFL Football, Sports with tags , , , , , on November 30, 2010 by thelasthonestman

Okay, okay … I was wrong.

There can’t be anyone that was more critical of the Chicago Bears — and coaches Lovie Smith and Ron Martz — than I’ve been in the past year.  I already spoke at length as to why I thought the pairing of Martz and erratic quarterback Jay Cutler was doomed to failure, and I was more than prepared as the season started to watch my beloved Bears crash into the NFC North cellar; when asked, I predicted to anyone who’d listen that I thought Chicago was a legitimate threat to finish behind the improved Detroit Lions.

Whoops.

Instead of planning for who they’re going to pick in next year’s draft, the Bears are fighting for the NFC title, and are only one game back of the 9-2 Atlanta Falcons for the best record in the conference.  Is it possible that Chicago might not only make the playoffs, but could host a game in January?  I never would have thought it was possible — and yet, here we are.

The reasons for the Bears turnaround are really pretty simple.  The defense has suddenly sprung back to life (the Bears have given up the 2nd fewest points in all of the NFL, just behind division rival Green Bay), giving up 8 points a game fewer than they did in 2009 and putting them in position to win every game they play, while also allowing only 80.5 rushing yards a game, 2nd-best in the league.  They’ve also been better at limiting backbreaking turnovers — or more so, Jay Cutler has been limiting them of late, having thrown only 3 interceptions over his last four games, all wins.

The Bears ... RUNNING THE BALL!!!

Martz’ pass-wacky tendencies have also been limited as the season as worn on.  After early losses in which the running game was nearly invisible, the Bears have focused on giving Matt Forte the ball and establishing the run.  In their 16-0 shutout win over the Dolphins two weeks ago, Forte and backup running back Chester Taylor carried the ball as astounding (for a Martz-led offense, that is) 36 times!  Defense and a running game that can control the clock and wear out defenses: that’s how the classic Bear teams of the past have won, and to a large extent, that’s how they’re winning now.

Can it continue?  I thought Chicago’s early-season victories were fluky — a win on the terrible Calvin Johnson TD-that-wasn’t call that should have resulted in a loss on opening day, and wins against terrible teams in Dallas, Buffalo, and Carolina.  Also, the Giants destroyed them in Week 4, and they have unimpressive losses against mediocre teams in Seattle and Washington — at home, no less.

Yet they did beat Green Bay earlier in the season, and the victory against Philadelphia this past Sunday in a game where Cutler played as good a game as he has in his time wearing a Bears uniform — as well as the impressive performance by the defense in limiting the damage done by Michael Vick — has made me, for the moment at least, a believer.  It’s been a difficult season for me as a Bears fan — I haven’t rooted for them to win, mainly because I believed (and deep down, still believe I guess) that Lovie, Martz, and Cutler all needed to go for the franchise’s future to be bright.

Is this a scene that might be repeated in January?

But at some point, the results on the field are all that really matter — and the Bears are winning — so, sucker that I am, I guess I’m along for the ride.  A question I asked recently of a friend was whether or not someone can “bandwagon jump” if it’s their own team they’re doing it with — I’m now going to find out.  I’m breaking out my Bears jacket from the closet and embracing this team, for better or for worse.  If  Cutler really has matured as a quarterback, if the defense continues to channel the great defenses of years past, if Lovie doesn’t foul it up and Martz can keep his worst tendencies in check — then in what’s been a wacky year already in the NFL, Chicago might just be for real.

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The NFL Off-Season Is Heating Up — But The Bears’ Chances Are Still Ice Cold

Posted in News/Current Events, NFL Football, Sports with tags , , , , , , on March 8, 2010 by thelasthonestman

It’s probably going to surprise you — but as a Chicago Bears fan, I’m not at all happy about the way their off-season has gone.

"So we'll line Marshall up as a receiver, and put Holt and Bruce on the other side of the field for Warner. What's that? What do you mean it's not still 1999?"

First, there’s the fact that almost all of the people responsible for the debacle of the 2009 season — head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo among them — are back in Chicago, making me less than optimistic that things are going to be any different in the Windy City for 2010.  Worse yet, the possibility that I talked about way back in November has unfortunately become a reality:  Mike Martz is the new offensive coordinator for the Bears.  On this, I can **barely** contain my enthusiasm.

I said then that hiring Martz was only going to compound the problems with the team’s direction, and I’ll predict it again now.  Jay Cutler, Johnny Knox, and Devin Hester/Devin Aromashodu are not Kurt Warner, Torry Holt, and Issac Bruce — a reality that the Bears “braintrust” seems all to eager to ignore.  And of course — the Bears best receiver (or certainly most talented one) is probably tight end Greg Olsen.  So it makes all the sense in the world that one of Martz’ first moves was to decide that Olsen is a bad fit for his almighty system.  The Bears are apparently shopping Olsen to the rest of the NFL, which means that Cutler will have one less quality target next year — at least one that’s actually wearing a Bears jersey – and Olsen, who’s shown signs of emerging as a valuable pass-catching tight end, will blossom with some other lucky team.  Oh, joy.

Pictured: Not Marshall Faulk

Granted, the Bears have shown a willingness to open up the checkbooks for a change this off-season — but what exactly have they been buying?  For starters, they got a running back in Chester Taylor who’s a decent enough back as a backup, but someone who already is 30 years old, has seen over 1000 carries in the NFL, and — and let’s face it — just isn’t all that good, having averaged 3.8 YPC over the last two seasons with a better line than the Bears have.  The word was that Martz viewed him as a poor man’s Marshall Faulk — I think he’ll be more along the lines of a poor man’s Kevin Faulk, at best.  They also acquired the 30 year-old Julius Peppers — signed to a huge multi-year contract, despite looking uninspired and erratic while in his last year in Carolina — and a pass-blocking tight end in Brandon Manumaleuna.

Add it all up, and the Bears are looking like the NFL North’s version of the Washington Redskins, minus the meddling owner.  At this rate, I’ll have to make sure to request a vomit bag along with my purchase of the Sunday Ticket to watch Bears games next fall.

On the other hand, at least I have the NFL draft to look forward to, and all of the picks in the first two rounds that the Bears … errr … never mind.  Let’s forget I even brought that up, shall we?

— The other big news of the last week involved Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who for the second time in less than a year, finds himself in the middle of allegations regarding his conduct with women.  After a civil suit was filed against him by former Harrah’s employee Andrea McNulty last July (a lawsuit which is still ongoing), the Pittsburgh quarterback now finds himself the target of accusations of sexual assault following a night out in the bars and nightspots of Milledgeville, Georgia.

Sometimes, throwing into double coverage looks good when compared to the other ways you can show bad judgement

I like to reserve judgement on these type of situations until all of the facts are in, but there’s one thing I’m pretty certain of already: once might be an aberration, but multiple times is a trend.  There’s no way to know for certain now what happened in either case — and we’ll probably never know 100% for certain no matter how much time passes — but it’s pretty obvious to me that Roethlisberger is guilty of putting himself into situations he shouldn’t be getting in, and if nothing else, he’s clearly exhibiting bad judgement.  If it turns out that Roethlisberger is guilty in either case, then I hope the judicial system tosses the book at him and that his NFL career comes to a richly deserved crashing halt.  Whether or not he is, however, should prove to be a drama that plays out in the news for the next several months — which if the news today that the quarterback has hired a prominent Atlanta attorney to represent him in the matter means anything, it’s that it won’t be pretty.