Has Mike Tice gone crazy?
I didn't realize this but the folks at Chicago Breaking Sports spotted this one. Greg Olsen was lined up at the left tackle position.
Biggs: Mad Mike? Bears tried Olsen at left tackle
October 19, 2010 9:23 AM |
By Brad Biggs
In the Bears' new search for balance in their offense, they also need to answer a key question when it comes to one of the few running plays that was called in this past Sunday's loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
What exactly was Greg Olsen doing lined up at left tackle in an unbalanced line on a play run right behind him? This ought to make for some interesting explaining by offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who chose to limit the tight end's use as a receiver on third down in the game.
In fact, a strong point can be made that the running play in question led directly to the safety the Bears allowed at the start of the third quarter that put the Seahawks ahead 16-13. More puzzling? This was the first offensive snap for the Bears in the third quarter, presumably something that was discussed or part of an adjustment made at halftime.
Let's set the play up, and you can find it on your DVR with 12:26 remaining in the third quarter:
After a Seahawks' punt, the Bears took over with first down on their own 10-yard line. They broke the huddle in an unbalanced line as Olsen lined up at left tackle. In this situation, left tackle Frank Omiyale went to the right side of the line where he effectively became the right tackle. From left to right, the line looked like this: Olsen, Chris Williams, Olin Kreutz, Edwin Williams, J'Marcus Webb and Omiyale.
Jay Cutler handed the ball off to Matt Forte and he ran directly behind Olsen, who was trying to block the Seahawks' 6-4, 323-pound right end Red Bryant. The Bears list Olsen at 255 pounds, meaning he was sacrificing 68 pounds at the point of attack. Bryant moved off the block to corral Forte with his right arm and bring him down for no gain. The play never had a chance to get going. Linebacker David Hawthorne was there to clean it up if needed.
If Martz was trying to confuse the Seahawks or trick them by running behind the weak link on the line, he failed badly.
On the next snap, safety Jordan Babineaux came unblocked off the right side and sacked Cutler, forcing a fumble that the quarterback recovered just inside the end zone for a safety. Had the Bears gained a yard or two on first down, they wouldn't have coughed up two points on second down. It's tough sledding behind Olsen the left tackle, though.
Olsen is a pass-catching tight end. He always has been, always will be. He has worked to develop as a blocker and maybe he has improved. But to the point you can line him up at left tackle and expect him to move a significantly larger defensive lineman off the line? No.
Martz has been called a genius. He also has been called Mad Mike. This was pure madness. Martz talks about matchups. That's the key to his offense. It's why there are so many personnel groupings, so many motions and so many shifts. He wants the perfect matchup on every play. So what was Olsen doing at left tackle on a run to the left side?
Martz went back to the same play (or a very similar play) in the fourth quarter with different personnel. This time, Brandon Manumaleuna lined up where Olsen was and Chester Taylor was in the backfield. With first down on their own eight-yard line, Taylor went for a four-yard gain. Manumaleuna had a more favorable blocking assignment against 274-pound end Raheem Brock on the play, and Taylor cut inside.
Martz called only 12 handoffs in the game, seven of which were made in the first quarter. Of the five handoffs the rest of the way, two came in this unbalanced formation and one behind Olsen.
What's maybe just as puzzling is why Olsen was on the field for only four of the 12 third-down plays. He's typically a reliable target for Cutler, and the point was made in this article that it would make sense to have him in the pattern in these situations.
Martz used three personnel groupings on third down. Each got four snaps. None worked. Here is what they were:
* Johnny Knox, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, Rashied Davis, running back
* Knox, Hester, Bennett, Brandon Manumaleuna, running back
* Knox, Devin Aromashodu, Bennett, Greg Olsen, running back
So the determination was made that Davis was as valuable in third-down situations as Olsen? Sure, you can debate that and certain players are going to be better in certain routes. But there's no disputing Olsen as a left tackle. His strengths are not being used when he lines up at left tackle. In this case, it led to the Bears allowing a safety. This unbalanced line is not how Lovie Smith will want the Bears to go about achieving balance.
We'll see what Martz has to say about it Wednesday.