Former longtime scout says Martz-Cutler pairing a recipe for disaster
Coach Lovie Smith insists the offensive line will block better and adjustments will be made to prevent defenders from racing untouched into the backfield.
The team's embarrassing third-down conversion rate, the league's worst, is something he's convinced will improve with more time spent on the practice field.
Dave Razzano isn't so sure. The former Rams, 49ers and Cardinals scout has worked with Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz before -- won a Super Bowl with him in St. Louis, in fact -- and doesn't see Martz's tenure in Chicago ending well for him or for franchise quarterback Jay Cutler.
''The problem is, with Mike, you need a really good offensive line, and they have a really bad offensive line,'' said Razzano, now an analyst for PlaymakerMobile.com. ''When I saw that Mike had taken the job there, I looked at their offensive line and said this could be a disaster. Mike just exacerbates it. I'd be shocked if Cutler lasted the entire season.''
The Bears allowed six sacks Sunday, putting them on pace to surrender 72 this season. That would shatter the franchise record of 66 allowed in 2004. Smith said he planned to stick with the same offensive line that started the 23-20 loss Sunday to the Seahawks at Soldier Field in hopes that it can build cohesiveness.
Razzano doesn't believe cohesiveness is as big an issue as talent -- or lack of it.
''With that offensive line and with Mike Martz coming in, they don't have a chance,'' said Razzano, who spent 22 years in the NFL. ''I'm shocked they don't have more talent than that. They have drafted poorly. That's Jerry Angelo. I like Jerry, but I have to call it like I see it. It all starts with personnel. You have to have the horses. They don't have the horses up front.''
Razzano also sees the potential for conflict, especially after a game such as the one Sunday, in which running backs Matt Forte and Chester Taylor combined for 12 carries and Cutler threw 39 passes.
Offensive line coach Mike Tice hasn't tried to conceal his desire to run the ball more to build the confidence of his young offensive line. Martz, meanwhile, is well-known for his pass-happy style and has a reputation for being stubborn. Put it all together, and Razzano wouldn't be surprised if Tice and Martz clashed before the season is done.
''[Martz] is a smart guy, but he's very inflexible and does it his way,'' Razzano said. ''If you question him, he'll jump you. He's stubborn. That's just how he is.
''There's good qualities about him, too. If it's late in the game and you need a touchdown to win, he's the guy you want calling plays, but his inflexibility can cause problems. He doesn't care what anybody thinks. He's not going to change a thing. He's going to live and die throwing the ball down the field. He's not an easy guy to work with. That's just his history, especially with offensive line coaches. I'm sure behind those walls it's not pretty, especially when the quarterback is getting beat up.
''I can't imagine Tice and Martz behind closed doors. I can see that thing coming to a head.''
Razzano said hiring Martz is just another sign of how desperate Angelo and Smith have become. Because his offense relies on the quarterback getting rid of the ball quickly, Martz is probably not the best fit for Cutler. With such a strong arm, Cutler always has been able to wait for receivers to come open rather than anticipate when they'll come open.
Cutler is a streaky quarterback playing in a high-risk, high-reward offense, and that could contribute to the inconsistency we've seen through six games.
''You have to have the right people, and you have to have a QB who gets it out of his hands and a solid offensive line,'' Razzano said. ''It's as much players as anything. You have to have the players, and we had a lot of them in St. Louis.''
Razzano said that when Martz's offense is ''on,'' it's a sight to behold. When it's not, it's wretched. That shouldn't surprise Bears fans, who have seen it at its worst and brief flashes of what it could be when everything comes together.
Razzano isn't saying it won't happen, but he's not sure the shotgun marriage between Martz and Cutler will end up benefitting the Bears or Cutler.
''He's the kind of guy that will say, 'Hey, fire me,''' Razzano said. ''He doesn't need the money. He doesn't care. I'm sure Jerry is pulling his hair out. It might get worse before it gets better up there.''
Bears Hall of Famer Dick Butkus had some pointed remarks Monday about his former team's struggles on offense.
"(The offensive line) is awful," said Butkus, in town to promote his "I Play Clean" foundation to educate athletes about steroid abuse. "The Skins and whoever else they play have to be looking at tapes today and licking their chops. The Bears have their hands full.
"It would be different if it was just the left tackle blowing a block every other time. But this is the left guard, then the right tackle ... They're taking turns and it is not good." Regarding coach Lovie Smith and new coordinators Mike Martz and Rod Marinelli, Butkus said, "Was Lovie forced to hire these guys? Is he a lame-duck head coach? I just don't know. It can only get worse.
"If I was playing defense against the Bears, I would blitz them every play. I'm not sure that they will be able to run the ball any better than they are with that line. Everyone thinks blitzes are great to stop the pass, but they are excellent against the run also."
While agree in prinicple with butkus.. as someone that was teams that never even won 4 games in a whole season- you would think he would have some sympathy for bad play and talk about how to fix it..