That was a very nice win for the Bears last night. And as somebody who has been highly critical of the management, from coaches on up, fairness compels me to recognize when there are signs of something good starting to happen here.
They seem like a different team ever since Jay Cutler publicly (and privately, we assume) demanded that his coaches do a better job of calling plays and schemes so that he wouldn’t get annihilated back there, like he did in the Detroit game on Oct. 10. Then in the Minnesota game on 10/16, he told Mike Martz to go **** himself on an open mike during the game.
Was this leadership, or acting like a self-glorifying toolbag? Seems like leadership to me. Why? Because the team is playing better now, across the board. He was right. The coaches were wrong. And he was sick of doing it their way when he knew his way would work better.
Here’s what we have seen so far. A better mix of plays, first of all, with more emphasis on running the ball, which gets the O-line more involved and aggressive and establishes rhythm and forces the defense to guess more and react more, and to cover more ground on every play. Running the ball also chews up more game clock, keeping your defense off the field and their defense on it, all good things. And when the line can move the front seven off the ball, it gets in the heads of the defense because they know they are getting moved backwards consistently. Teams that win Super Bowls have to be able to run the ball. This is elementary coaching philosophy.
And the pass plays they do call show much more variety, too: roll-outs, 3 step drops, 5 step drops. Cutler is pretty athletic, and uses his feet well and seems to have a natural ability to avoid pressure. These kinds of plays swing advantages over to the offense, again, by forcing the defense to guess and react. It isn’t that complicated,
Football itself isn’t that complicated. It’s about dedication, and effort, and execution, and discipline, and teamwork.
I would have thought the highly-regarded Mike Martz would understand these most basic concepts.
And I have to hand it to the O-line, both the players and the coaches. No sacks last night, and only 3 total over the last 3 full games. They are opening sizable holes and Matt Forte is hitting them at the right time and getting into the backfield on a regular basis. That, my friends, is the recipe for winning football games. The next big test comes up this Sunday, against the Lions and their relentless D-line.
But as for right now, this team is 5-3 and playing well, and headed in the right direction. Of course, a lot can change over the remaining weeks, but as it stands right now, they are contending for the wild card spot with Detroit and Atlanta.
The point here is that after the last Detroit game, they were 2-3 and seemingly headed nowhere. Then Jay Cutler took control of the situation, and seems to be the leader not just on the field, but on the sidelines too. Maybe even in the front office. Nobody else called for drastic changes until he did, in public. He has his quirks and his smirks, but it’s quite possible that he’s had better ideas all along, and even his critics have to start considering that possibility.