We’ve still only seen the tip of the iceberg of what a Mike Martz offense will do. After years — make that decades — of prizing ball control to the point where the Bears seemed more concerned with holding onto the ball than scoring points and giving it back to the other team, Chicago’s new offensive coordinator isn’t scared to try anything.
We’ve seen the Bears convert their only third down against Dallas by throwing a 59-yard pass out of the shotgun formation.
We’ve seen them throw a screen pass for an 89-yard touchdown.
We’ve also seen them line running back Matt Forte out wide like a receiver and throw him two touchdown passes.
But we’ve still only seen the tip of the iceberg of what a Mike Martz offense will do.
After years — make that decades — of prizing ball control to the point where the Bears seemed more concerned with holding onto the ball than scoring points and giving it back to the other team, Chicago’s new offensive coordinator isn’t scared to try anything.
Well, anything except making things up on the fly.
The one thing you won’t see in a Mike Martz offense is audibles. That’s because he’s already planned ahead.
“With a guy like this, the way he designs plays, there is always going to be an answer,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “If there isn’t an answer, there is not going to be a play.”
So the Bears don’t change plays at the line. They just change their first option within that play.
And Martz also makes sure he “prepares our guys for something we didn’t see.” That means unexpectedly dusting off a couple of plays from his vast playbook at the last minute if needed.
“If it goes as planned, then great,” Martz said. “But you have to be flexible and change gears sometimes.”
And even change directions.
Chicago’s biggest play in its first preseason game at San Diego was a pass to Johnny Knox, who took two steps across the middle, then broke back to the outside and was wide open.
Teams have often victimized the Bears with such “double moves” over the years. But the Bears have never embraced receivers making fakes before.
“Things have changed this year,” Knox said. “Coach Martz gives us the flexibility, depending on the coverage, to do a double move. It’s something we’ve worked on.
“It keeps defenses guessing throughout the game, not knowing what you are going to do. It helps you out on different routes throughout the game.”
That’s because once you burn teams with a double move, they are less willing to jump routes trying for interceptions, because they know they can get burned for a long gain.
“Once they see it a couple of times, teams start playing us different,” receiver Devin Hester said. “Right now, they have a mentality of how they are going to play us. But by midseason, if we show more double moves, it might back them off a little bit.”
So far, Chicago has shown double moves only in the preseason. But the moves are coming in the regular season, too. It’s just a matter of time.
“I love it,” Hester said. “It basically gives us the opportunity to get open. There are times when you run routes and it’s not there and you are kind of lost in the mix. But this offense is designed where if you get a certain coverage or a guy playing you a certain way, you give him a double move. That helps you find a way to get open.”
“Most offenses,” receiver Devin Aromashodu said, “have double moves in them. What matters is when you call it and if the person runs a good route. We definitely have more freedom in this offense, but I think double moves are overrated in all offenses.”
Maybe so, but they weren’t in ALL offenses before. Now the Bears have one more weapon that everyone else has.
And Mike Martz can never have enough weapons.
Matt Trowbridge can be reached at 815-987-1383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.