Bears must run more or Cutler will remain a sitting duck
By Bob LeGere Two of the most basic rules of coaching are: 1. Don't ask players to do something they're not capable of, and 2. Don't put players in a position to fail.
Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz broke both rules Sunday night. He continued to call for pass plays that the offensive line had no chance of supporting with adequate protection, thereby giving quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears' offense no chance for success.
You don't enter the Bears' team bus in the Indy 500, even if Mike Ditka is driving, and you don't subject your franchise quarterback to a defensive line that resembled a piranha tank at feeding time.
In the previous two games, Martz made brilliant adjustments when the offense started slowly. But those adjustments were nowhere to be seen against the New York Giants.
Sometimes, in the face of an aggressive pass rush, teams can continue to throw the ball, as the Bears did against the Dallas Cowboys with great success. Other times, you have to admit that your guys can't block their guys in pass protection.
Maybe they couldn't have blocked the Giants any better on run plays, but it's difficult to tell because they never had much of a chance.
On the Bears' first 20 plays, Cutler was sacked seven times, fumbling on three of them, and he was intercepted once.
But even after watching all of that, when the Bears got the ball back after Julius Peppers stripped it from Eli Manning and Brian Urlacher recovered near midfield, what did Martz call for?
Another pass, which resulted in the eighth sack of Cutler, killing that possession.
That's when a running game would have come in handy.
But if the running game has been buried in a corner of the closet and never used, it's unrealistic to expect it to function smoothly right out of the box.
It was only a matter of time until the Bears' refusal to develop a running game came back to haunt them, and the bill came due during Sunday's nationally televised nightmare.
In a game in which it was clear the Bears could not keep the Giants' linemen off Cutler, they still only ran the ball 16 times.
And it wasn't as if they had to abandon the ground attack because they had fallen hopelessly behind. The Bears were never more than a touchdown away from taking the lead or tying the game until less than five minutes remained.
It makes you wonder why they spent $12.5 million in the off-season on running back Chester Taylor to complement starter Matt Forte if they're not going to use either of them to run the ball.
Taylor picked up 22 yards on just 3 carries Sunday, which isn't enough attempts to make a recommendation. But it's clearly superior to the minus-13 passing yards the Bears accumulated in the first half.
Only two of 32 NFL teams have run the ball less frequently than the Bears, who average 21 carries per game. They've attempted to throw an average of 34 times, although a total of 18 of those have resulted in sacks by far the most in the league.
An increased emphasis on the run game will benefit the air attack. Play-action passes only work against a defense that has to respect the possibility of a run.
“Unless there's a threat of the run, they're not really going to take it seriously, Forte said. “The play-action only works when you're running the ball effectively.
And defensive linemen who only have to worry about rushing the passer are a lot more dangerous as the Bears, and especially Cutler found out Sunday night.
Follow Bob LeGere's Bears reports via Twitter@BobLeGere. Check out his blog, Bear Essentials at DailyHerald.com.