Mike Martz

10 observations from Week 2 in the NFL

1. Mike Martz is Jay Cutler’s savior. Through two weeks he has looked like the best quarterback in the league. If you’re not buying into the hype, consider this stat from ProFootballFocus.com: when Cutler was blitzed on Sunday, he completed 17 of 24 pass attempts for 198 yards and three touchdowns. That’s efficiency that you will rarely see against one of the more talented defenses in the league.

2. What’s up with all these quarterbacks being benched? If you’re sitting a guy midway through the second game of the season maybe you shouldn’t have started him in the first place. If your team has already made a quarterback switch before fall is officially here, you have every reason to panic.

3. At this rate, I don’t see how Eric Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will survive the season in Cleveland. In each of their first two games the Browns offense has come out of the gate with reasonable success, only to be completely shut down in the 2nd half. It’s as if the Browns just go to the locker room and hang out at halftime while the other team adjusts.

4. Another issue with the Browns offense… how can you not get the ball in the hands of your playmakers? They had Jerome Harrison, Josh Cribbs and Seneca Wallace on the field at the same time for most of the game, and yet they failed to even fake any trick plays. They could have created some nightmare matches for the Chiefs defense with just a little creativity.

5. Derek Anderson did not look good on Sunday, but his offensive line didn’t do him any favors. The Cardinals offensive line allowed two sacks, six hits and 18 pressures! And they only dropped back to pass 33 times! And please, for the sake of Kurt Warner, don’t think that this offensive line got worse since last year. Warner was simply brilliant at avoiding pressure and getting rid of the football.

6. I’m excited to see Jimmy Clausen’s debut on Sunday, but I’m afraid it won’t be pretty. He faces two tough secondaries in each of his first two games – vs Cincinnati, at New Orleans. The Panthers might as well wave the white flag. They’re locked in a battle with the Browns and Bills for the No. 1 pick.

7. The Vikings have every reason to panic. They should add one in the win column this weekend against the Lions, but after that it’s at the Jets, home against the Cowboys, then at Green Bay and at New England. They could lose all four of those games. And they will if Brett Favre doesn’t stop playing like Sage Rosenfels. The Vikings could have gotten this performance for a lot less money if he had stayed retired.

8. The Steelers may be emerging as a favorite in the AFC. They’re 2-0 (two good wins, mind you) while essentially playing without a quarterback. As soon as Roethlisberger returns, this team will be very, very hard to beat.

9. Green Bay’s defense looked absolutely dominant on Sunday (with plenty of help from Trent Edwards). But here’s a fun stat for you courtesy of ProFootballFocus.com – the Bills didn’t target Charles Woodson once the entire game. Not a single pass thrown his direction. Now that’s respect.

10. And I’ll conclude with this… I hope someone in the NFL public relations department is paying close attention to the amount of media coverage being given today to Braylon Edwards and Kenny McKinley. The fact that most media outlets are spending more time talking about Edwards’ DWI and how the Jets will react, than to McKinley’s death is sad.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Browns, Cardinals, Packers, Panthers, Steelers, Vikings Comments Off

Analyzing the Bears free agency moves

No matter what happens this season, you have to give the Bears credit for trying. Last season they went out and acquired what they believed to be a franchise quarterback. This season they grabbed the biggest name on the free agent market.

Carolina Panthers v San Diego ChargersThe Julius Peppers signing came as no surprise, and is clearly a smart move. The Bears pass rush has been good but not great in recent seasons and Peppers should put their defensive line over the top and make them one of the better units in the league.

With Peppers and Alex Brown teaming up the Bears now have an impressive combination at defensive end. Peppers excels as a pass rusher, while Brown rates as one of the games best run stoppers. Its a nice combination in a division that will require a balanced defense to compete with the Packers and Vikings.

I actually really like the signings of Brandon Manumaleuna and Chester Taylor. Neither one figures to make a significant impact, but they each fill specific needs which the Bears may not have been able to fill in the draft since they don’t own a draft pick until 3rd round.

The signing of Manumaleuna may spell the end of the road for Greg Olsen. Mike Martz refuses to use tight ends in the passing game, which essentially renders Olsen useless. He’ll more than likely be traded, which hopefully lands the Bears a 2nd or 3rd round pick.

Chester Taylor will backup Matt Forte, who struggled to carry the load in 2009. The only questionable part of the signing is that Taylor is most effective as a receiver, which also is a strong-suit of Forte’s game. Taylor’s impact figures to be less than it was in Minnesota, but nonetheless he’s a significant upgrade over Kevin Jones as Forte’s backup.

As far as the draft is concerned, these moves can allow the Bears to relax on draft day. Aside from receiver, they really don’t have a glaring need that needs to be addressed. They won’t be on the clock until the 75th pick, so Bears fans shouldn’t expect much, but they can now select the best available player without feeling the pressure to find an impact player at a spot where it can be difficult to find one.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Bears, Free Agency Comments Off

Mike Martz and his Impact on the Bears Draft

bearsCoordinators don’t often have a significant say on who their team drafts. But there are a select few that have the standing within their organization¬† to be heard on draft day. Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore and Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau are two that come to mind.

While there are certainly those that believe Mike Martz’s offensive genius is overrated, there is also little doubt that the Bears feel otherwise. He’s been hired to revive Jay Cutler’s career and, as a result, one would have to assume he’ll have a strong say in the offensive personnel decisions. And when it comes to the draft, that may be bad news for the Bears.

Here’s a look at Mike Martz’s offensive skill position draft selections since becoming the Rams offensive coordinator in 1999, when he presumably was high enough on the food chain to have the ear of Dick Vermeil, one of Martz’s most vocal supporters. Aside from the selections of Torry Holt, Steven Jackson and Calvin Johnson, the list reads like a who’s who of “who’s that?”

mike_martz_draftpicks

Martz certainly deserves credit for going 3 for 4 with the 1st-round picks. The Trung Canidate blunder is easily excused by the selection of Holt, Jackson and Johnson. However, the lack of contributors from the 2nd round and beyond is startling. His most productive non-1st-round pick has been Kevin Curtis, and that’s not saying much.

New England Patriots v St. Louis RamsI also included tight ends in this list of “skill position” players, to demonstrate a potential issue somewhat unrelated to the draft. Mike Martz prefers his tight ends to be an extension of the offensive line, which is bad news for Greg Olsen. Given the Bears current group of receivers, Martz would be foolish not to utilize his skill set, but his track record indicates that he won’t. It will be interesting to see how the Bears handle this. Trading Olsen (they could probably get a 2nd-round pick in return) would be a wise move if Martz isn’t interested in making him a focal point of the offense.

Ultimately the Bears may be just fine in the draft. GM Jerry Angelo still has the final say on all personnel decisions, and he has a strong track record in the draft. But I have to believe Angelo will lean towards siding with Martz on any decisions involving offensive skill positions. He brought in arguably the league’s most high-profile offensive coordinator for a reason and his opinion will be valued. For the sake of Bears fans, however, we urge Angelo to handle the draft on his own.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Bears 1 Comment