x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Martz owns up for the Bears' mauling

Chicago are struggling to find balance and the offensive co-ordinator takes responsibility.

Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears quarterback, has been absorbing all the shocks with as many as 52 sacks in 15 games.
Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears quarterback, has been absorbing all the shocks with as many as 52 sacks in 15 games.

Jay Cutler is not sure how long he will last if he keeps taking beatings on the field.

The Chicago Bears quarterback got knocked around again and the running game was all but ignored in a 30-13 loss at New Orleans last weekend that had an all too familiar feel. For that, Mike Martz, the offensive co-ordinator, said there is one person to blame, and he is the man.

"If you're looking for blame, blame me," he said on Wednesday.

Martz's mea culpa came on the heels of a loss that brought back memories of the Bears' struggles early last season, when they looked like a team on the verge of a collapse. Chicago called 52 pass plays and 11 handoffs against the Saints, wiping out the good vibe from a lopsided win over Atlanta in the opener.

Now, the Bears are getting ready for the Green Bay Packers, the defending champions, and Lovie Smith, the Chicago coach, made it clear he wants more balance.

Jerry Angelo, the general manager, and Cutler joined in the chorus. "Balance is critical to any game plan, and when you create balance there comes a lot more diversity with your scheme and players," Angelo said.

"We didn't have that Sunday. That was obvious. And because we didn't, problems were created, particularly in the second half."

The Bears are in a familiar position after two weeks, trying to blend the running and passing games while their quarterback takes a pounding.

They lead the league in sacks allowed with 11, after giving up an NFL-worst 56 last year. Cutler took 52 of them in 15 games, and he is already absorbed more than his share of shots.

He was sacked six times against the Saints, all in the second half, and got kicked in the throat.

That explains why he has had trouble speaking for the past few days, but even with his tone barely above a mumble, he made this much clear.

"We've got to get Matt [running back Forte] involved in the run game a little bit more," he said. Forte carried 10 times for 49 yards, and Kahlil Bell had a one-yard loss on his lone attempt. The Bears wound up with 12 rushing attempts, matching the third-fewest in a single game, and one was a Cutler scramble.

With no running game and poor protection, Cutler was an easy target for the blitzing Saints.

"I'm very critical of how you manage a game," Martz said. "I've been calling plays for most of my life, and you go back and there are days you don't do a great job. I didn't do a good job responding. There are some things we should have adjusted to ... I should have adjusted to better. I didn't do that."

The Bears ranked among the most balanced teams over the final nine games last season, running 276 pass plays while handing the ball off 258 times, but they got away from that against the Saints.

The Packers withstood a 432-yard passing performance by Cam Newton to beat Carolina 30-23 last week after beating New Orleans 42-34 in the opener even though Drew Brees threw for 419. They have also lost Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins to a season-ending neck injury against the Panthers.

Even so, Smith was adamant he wants a more balanced run-pass ratio. Could he have demanded it during last week's game?

"Yeah, he could," Martz said. "It's just kind of not how we do things. Lovie has great trust in what we're doing. I think he understands, too, a lot of the issues that we are dealing with."