By Dan Pompei, Tribune reporter
8:54 PM CST, November 30, 2011
Considering it was Caleb Hanie's first start, I thought Mike Martz's play calling was fraught with poor calls. I thought more emphasis should have been placed on the run and screen passes to Matt Forte. Martz is all about trying to look like a genius with the passing game. -- Dave Mestdagh, Medicine Hat
I didn't like one call -- the screen pass call on second and 1 from the Oakland 7 near the end of the second quarter. The Bears should have just run it and gone for the field goal, and not risked a turnover. It was a risky play because the Bears had an inexperienced quarterback and young offensive linemen. Had those players executed the way they should have (Hanie should have not thrown the ball to Kellen Davis with Aaron Curry bearing down, and the left side of the line needed to get Curry blocked), we wouldn't be lamenting the play. Poor execution usually is what leads to second guessing of play calls. It wouldn't have been as risky if Jay Cutler had been under center, but with Hanie under center the pass should not have been called. Sometimes I think Martz is guilty of having too much confidence in his players.
Does Martz have to be hit in the head every so often so he can remember this isn't the Greatest Show on Turf and Hanie isn't Kurt Warner? Will the Bears get rid of him and get an OC that isn't a one-trick pony? -- Ernie; Port Orchard, Wa.
I think it's inaccurate to say Martz tried to make the Bears offense into the Greatest Show on Turf on Sunday. Could he have called a few more runs when he called passes? Probably. The Bears passed 57 percent of the time. But if you took away the last two desperation drives in the fourth quarter, the Bears passed the ball 50 percent of the time. Martz actually managed the game pretty well, with the exception of one bad call. Most of the passes they asked Hanie to make were not high risk throws. Many of them were short throws, easy to complete. In terms of the Bears getting rid of Martz, be careful what you wish for. Give me a list of potential replacements you would hire, and then we'll talk. It's easier to rail about a perceived problem than it is to identify a solution.
With Martz looking at the Arizona State job, I am hearing a lot about Mike Tice getting the OC job. Shouldn't the Bears be looking at the hot young guys on the Green Bay staff or New Orleans? Tice didn't really light it up as the OC for the Jaguars. -- Wendell, Seattle
If you are looking for Bill Walsh to call the plays, he is no longer with us. Everyone else has flaws. Tice never has been an offensive coordinator. He was an assistant head coach and tight ends coach in Jacksonville. He has been an offensive line coach and a head coach. So he's an unknown as an offensive coordinator. He is a fine coach, however, and has potential in that area. You will recall the Titans were interested in hiring him as their offensive coordinator last winter. Assuming Martz leaves and Tice is promoted, the biggest problem may be replacing Tice as an offensive line coach.
My biggest gripe about Martz's offense is how he doesn't use the tight end in the passing game. This could be such an invaluable, dependable weapon for a football team but Martz completely ignores it except a few times at the goal line. I've always thought having a tight end run a route is always better than a fourth or fifth receiver do so because a tight end could enable more deception and matchup problems for the other team. -- Greg, Pittsburgh
I'm with you Greg. I think a tight end can have a real value in a passing game because the right one can create mismatch problems. Martz never has been a big tight end guy though. It's odd because he comes from the Coryell offensive tree. Many of the coaches from that tree, including Don Coryell himself, have made ample use of tight ends in the passing game. Martz's philosophy is he would rather have as much speed as possible in routes, as opposed to a "receiving" tight end who runs slower than a receiver. And he would rather have a big banger of a tight end doing the dirty work, as opposed to blocking with a smaller, less powerful "receiving" tight end.
Seems to me that Johnny Knox is too inconsistent (too many drops/slips followed up by a great play) at this stage in his career. To that end, does he really have the possibility of being a great receiver when he can't seem to keep his feet under him? -- Paul Ryske, Lake Forest
There is no doubt Knox needs to be more consistent, especially with his footwork. He could prevent some of the slips if he kept his feet beneath him. He had a rough day on Sunday with drops, but generally his hands are pretty good. He's doing a lot of things very well, as evidenced by the fact that he is leading the NFL with an average per catch of 22.2. Since he came into the league in 2009, his average per catch of 17.0 is sixth best among players who have appeared in at least 30 games.
Can Jay Cutler get some credit finally for showing us that he's not the pouty, self-centered baby the media and fans make him out to be? Hanie's comments after the game I thought were telling, especially when he said there was a point early in the game on the sidelines when he and Jay started talking about non-football stuff. Hanie said it really calmed him down and cleared his head. I'm a Cutler apologist, but Jay got a bad rap for the NFC championship game, a game where Hanie said he got a lot of support from Cutler, despite what the media said and what those few, short video shots showed of him on the sidelines. -- Sean Quincey; Eureka, CA
Yes, Cutler should get credit for showing leadership on the sidelines Sunday. I think he is maturing. I'm not so sure he would have acted the same way one year ago, but he seems like a new man since then. Good for him, good for the Bears.
Do you think the Bears will try to re-sign all three of their upcoming free agent at the cornerback position? I think they should if you consider Tim Jennings has been solid and consistent for the past two years, Corey Graham has been spectacular in place of D.J. Moore and is our best special teams defender, and Zack Bowman has started and played well in the past and is taller than most corners. Furthermore, I think along with Moore and Charles Tillman, we've got the best overall group of cornerbacks in the entire NFL and should try to keep them together for the foreseeable future. -- J.C. Frazier; Racine, WI
I think they definitely will try to re-sign Jennings and Graham. It might not be easy to re-sign Graham if he keeps playing as well as he has on defense. Some team might be willing to give him good coin to be a nickel defender and special teams ace. The Bears have been unwilling to promise Graham playing time on defense in the past, and may be unwilling to promise it in the future because of the presence of Moore. I'm not so sure they will try to resign Bowman. For reasons that still are not entirely clear to me, he's been pretty much phased out of the defense. But he has developed into a decent special teams player.
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