Chicago Bears: Grading Mike Martz's Season As Offensive Coordinator
When he was the offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers, Mike Martz employed a primarily pass-first offense, implementing as many seven-step drops and deep, convoluted routes for his receivers as humanly possible.
When Mike Martz arrived in Lake Forest, Ill. for the first day of the Chicago Bears training camp, he planned on mimicking offenses of old. When Martz left later that day, he knew he had to change something.
The Bears' offensive line proved to be the Achilles Heel of this playoff-caliber team, surrendering 57 sacks in 17 games. Had it not been for the weakness of the offensive line, Martz would surely have been able to run the offense he so loved.
With what he had to work with, expectations were rather low.
According to the majority of analysts, the Bears were irrelevant. They were going to be in the NFC cellar alongside teams like the Detroit Lions, the Carolina Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks, who somehow made the playoffs with a 7–9 record.
Martz, however, was determined to succeed with this offense. So he changed his game plan.
Martz's old "high risk, high reward" strategy was replaced with something he had never done before, he ran the ball—a lot.
He shortened routes and patterns to give the offensive line less time to screw up the play.
But you could still see glimpses of his old offenses in many of the formations he ran. Hell, in some games he just went back to the old scheme of passing deep with very little run plays like against Seattle in the regular season, where Forte only rushed the ball eight times.
Those were the games that the Bears lost.
Next year, Martz will need to stick to one scheme—hopefully the balanced philosophy—all year to make the offense more of a cohesive unit rather than a balanced vs. pass-first philosophy.
It's not easy learning a new offense.
Generally, any given professional team would have a tough time competing while working out the flaws and kinks of a foreign scheme. The Bears, however, made it their job to succeed.
The Bears' offense would not have had the motivation and tenacity to win that it showed without Martz at the helm.
Next year, I see the Bears doing the Super Bowl Shuffle all over Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, with Martz leading the way, calling an offense that looks very similar to the one he led this year.
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