Offense likely to stay balanced
Offense likely to stay balanced
By: Larry Mayer
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – After the Bears decided during the middle of last season to create more balance on offense by emphasizing the run, they won five straight and eight of nine games.
A year later, Mike Martz intends to employ a similar strategy, though the veteran offensive coordinator will always remain pragmatic in his approach.
“We just do whatever it takes to win a game,” Martz said at training camp. “You find your own personality in that. I would expect with our backs and the tight ends that we have and now that the line is settled, the running game will always be a very important factor in our ability to win.
“That mix that we had I would expect to be very similar to. I would hope that it ends up that way. If you start throwing the ball more than 35 times in a game, generally it’s not good.”
While Matt Forte topped 1,000 yards last year for the second time in three seasons, the Bears offense may be even better equipped to run the ball. They’ve gotten bigger up front with the addition of center Chris Spencer (6-3, 309) and rookie tackle Gabe Carimi (6-7, 316). They also plan to employ two mammoth tight ends in Kellen Davis (6-7, 267) and free-agent acquisition Matt Spaeth (6-7, 260) to help open holes.
“We’ve got two big tight ends that we think can block a defensive end by themselves, and that’s hard to do in the NFL,” Martz said. “So you get a tight end that’s 270 pounds with a big old wingspan, now what that does is you don’t have to double team the edge to get outside.
“It allows you a freedom in the running game that you would normally not have. Instead of running away from him, you can run at him and expect to win without getting help from the tackle. So it just really allows you to be a lot more multiple in your runs and creative with the running back.”
Key moment: The turnaround on offense last season coincided with Roberto Garza’s return from an injury. After missing two weeks, the veteran lineman was inserted at right guard after starting the first five games at left guard.
“He was a very incredibly important guy to get back because he was going to be right next to [2010 seventh-round pick] J’Marcus [Webb],” Martz said. “Once that got calmed down, settled down, the only thing we tried to do each week was get better.
“Get better and better in what we were doing, stay in the g ame and try to win at the end and complement the defense. I think each week we did get better. We’re not where we need to be; certainly we’re a long ways from it. But that part of it was very encouraging.”
On the rise: Martz is especially high on Davis, a fourth-year pro whose only reception during the regular season last year was a 19-yard touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings. Davis added a 39-yard TD catch in a playoff win over the Seattle Seahawks.
“This is more about Kellen Davis and what we saw from him and what we think he can do than it really is anything else,” Martz said. “Kellen can flat out run. If you’ve been at practice, you’ve seen it. He can run and catch.”
Davis, a fifth-round draft pick in 2008, is eager to make an impact this season.
“I’m just looking to try to expand my role and get as much playing time as I possibly can,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll block real well and catch a few balls. I just want to be an integral part of the offense and do my best.
“I think I fit pretty well because in our system we need to have a run-blocking tight end and I can definitely do that and I can definitely get up in the seam and run some deeper routes and run some corner routes and do all that too.”
Roster move: The Bears on Wednesday waived tight end Draylen Ross, an undrafted rookie from North Texas.