Sorry for the late recap, folks. I was on the road most of yesterday, so I've had time to exhale before putting this together. I'm not going to do a good/bad. The good was the under-utilized Matt Forte (at least as a runner, anyway) and the fact that Jay Cutler survived in one piece. The bad was everything else, but especially Major Wright (YOU CANNOT COMMIT THE CARDINAL SIN OF LETTING A MAN GET BEHIND YOU IN THE COVER 2, MAJOR), the injuries (Earl's bruised sternum should heal soon, but the worse injury, Carimi's, could take up to a month), the return of Frank F*&king Omiyale, and most of all, Mike Martz. The rest of this recap will consist solely of my rant about Mike, so if you aren't interested feel free to move on.
I thought we were past this, Mike. I thought you'd learned the value of Matt Forte, runningback. Hell, yesterday's game started off with a beautiful 87 yard drive that was pretty much entirely Forte running his ass off. Alas, the rest of the game played out much like the Seahawks game during last year's regular season. Clearly, Mike panics when he's confronted with a team down by a mere 6 points, because much as Mike abandoned the run and had a 47-14 ratio in that game when down just 7 points for much of the game, he abandoned a running game that was averaging FIVE YARDS PER CARRY while he was down just 16-10.
I know the sack totals have been ugly for both games, but the offensive line, at least while Carimi was in, wasn't bad. They've generally held up well. There've been some lapses, and some plays where Jay held the ball too long, but since the beginning of the preseason they've been clearing holes in the run game and that's opened up everything else. Why did Mike just go the hell away from it? The breakdown came in the second half after the offensive line was forced to stand up to blitzes of six or even seven rushers on dropback after dropback while Mike stubbornly refused to do what the Saints were daring him to do and run the ball. Obviously Mike went in convinced that he could pass on that secondary and do what Green Bay did, and he thought that the screens he had dialed up would be good enough to slow down the rush. When the screens didn't work, he had nothing and he refused to admit it.
We've seen this movie before. The only way it ends well is if Martz runs the ball. He doesn't have to cut the playbook down like last year. The line is better than it was. I still believe that. They can block for five and seven step drops, especially if Roy Williams and Earl Bennett get back and do a better job of finding holes and getting separation, something that Devin and Johnny failed to do yesterday. But the only way they can do that is if Mike takes some of the teeth out of the blitz by making teams pay on the ground. He has a back that can do it, and whatever liabilities this line may have in pass protection, they have the sheer size to run it. Just do it. It's not that hard, and it might keep your quarterback alive.