Mike Martz spoke Wednesday. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
The Bears'’ offensive coordinator said he believes the Bears “should be able to continue to improve from where we left off and make a quantum leap.’’
Stop right there. You can hope Martz is talking about leaving off with the balanced offense that worked in the second half of last season. However, the fear is “quantum leap’’ means the full-metal Martz passing game that the Bears couldn’t block last season.
Martz stoked that fear Wednesday when he said Johnny Knox isn’t ready to start at wide receiver for the Bears.
“He just has to get better,’’ Martz said. “He has to play better.’’
Last season, Knox started and finished up as, look at that, the Bears’ leading receiver.
Martz bucked down Knox in favor of free-agent signee Roy Williams. Martz says Williams is better, even though the numbers from last season say otherwise. This is the same Martz who convinced the Bears last year that Brandon Manumaleuna was the answer. The is the same Martz who had Todd Collins as his No. 2 quarterback.
Told ya: Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Martz wanted Williams because he had success with him an NFL lifetime ago. Martz convinced the right people to bring him in. Martz is convinced Williams is prepared.
Nobody is convinced Williams is the answer.
OK, the Bears are convinced, or maybe they’re just praying and hoping and lighting candles to will it so. Williams used to be good. But not lately. He’s coming off three bad seasons in Dallas. He had every chance to succeed there, but still ate the dust of several younger receivers.
What’s more, Williams is equally known for short-arming passes and flat dropping others. I mean, one of Williams’ signature moments in Dallas was a rookie refusing to carry his pads. Another is Williams’ whining that Tony Romo threw better or prettier passes to other guys. And mom always like Jason Witten best.
That’s the guy Martz named a starter over his leading receiver from last season. Martz said in this league you should “earn’’ jobs.
Wait, didn’t Martz’s offense just hand the right tackle job to rookie Gabe Carimi?
Martz said Knox has talent, but essentially spanked him for bad preparation. Maybe it’s true. Or maybe Martz is desperate to get back to being THAT Martz. Look at the way last season went for the Martz’s passing-genius legacy: His pass-crazy offense became a joke in the first seven games, then aliens landed during the bye week and snatched his brain while replacing it with a balanced attack.
When Martz wasn’t being Martz last season, the Bears won more and jeopardized their quarterback less. The game plans looked like Martz was being threatened by offensive line coach Mike Tice. Martz’s reputation as an offensive genius took a pantsing last season.
And now we come to this season, the last year of Martz’s contract. Maybe it’s me, but it looks and sounds as if Martz knows this is the last year he’ll have a chance to show that he’s relevant and that his offense can work.
It’s a little screwy that a guy with 400 pass plays can’t make it work in a league that changes every possible rule to give passing offenses every chance to succeed. Even the worst passing offenses. Except, of course, the Bears’. So Bears, huh?
Anyway, it would appear that Martz convinced the right people to deal pass-catching, bad-blocking, no-tackle-breaking tight end Greg Olsen and bring in massive blocking tight end Matt Spaeth, putting Spaeth behind massive blocking tight end Kellen Davis. It would appear that Martz got his bigger, wider line combinations and another short-yardage running back who can block first. Oh, and he got Williams and made him a starter.
I expect a certain amount of unrealistic optimism from football teams, even some arrogance regarding the brilliance of the plan and talent to execute it. The problem comes when failing to recognize the offense that is actually there and then both tailoring a game plan and calling plays based on that reality.
Last season, Martz seemed to have no clue about that. Then, when he came back this season, he blamed the players for that failed end-around in the dying moments of the NFC Championship Game. He said he made the right call. He said the players failed to execute. I confess, they blew it. If that’s what Martz believes, fine. If he believes that because he’s desperately clinging to an attempt to be relevant, not fine.
Fact is, the call that Martz loves himself for making was an end-around to the slowest end on the field. On a short field. With time running out. I confess, Martz blew it.
Just another example of what this season is sounding like early in training camp. It’s all about Martz. If it doesn’t work this season, it’s all about Martz’s exit, and Martz is acting as if he knows it.
I can’t help but view Martz’s Williams/Knox decision against that backstory. I can’t help but view all of his decisions that way. I might be the only one who looks at it that way, but it fits the guy’s profile. Call him stubborn, arrogant, insistent, successful and/or proud.
Or desperate. Sometimes desperation works. Sometimes Jay Cutler gets a concussion.