What We Learned: Seahawks vs. Bears

The Chicago Bears were supposed to have a great aerial attack with Mike Martz, but that won't happen with no running game. What did we learn Sunday? Start with these five observations:

1. This is never going to be "The Greatest Show on Dirt"
It has been 11 years since Mike Martz showed up in St. Louis as a first-year offensive coordinator and set the world afire with his passing attack, as the Rams won the Super Bowl behind the arm of future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, the legs of future Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk and the hands of future Hall of Famers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt – and don't forget the blocking of future Hall of Famer Orlando Pace. The 2010 Bears, on the other hand, have the 29th-ranked offense in the NFL through six weeks, and they are dead last in third-down conversions (18 percent) by a wide margin. Chicago has enough skill-position talent to move the chains consistently, and Jay Cutler has more physical tools than Warner ever dreamed of back when he was bagging groceries, but Martz is now trying to wave the same magic wand at defenses that have become much more sophisticated in the last decade or so.

Martz is foolish to think he can simply sling the football all over the field like he did in the glory days with Warner and Co., and there is no excuse for only getting Matt Forte and Chester Taylor a combined 12 carries against Seattle when it was a one-score game for three and a half quarters.

2. Draft busts on the D-line coming back to haunt Angelo
As Bear Report correspondent Jeremy Stolz correctly points out in the upcoming December issue, general manager Jerry Angelo has largely ignored the offensive line in the NFL Draft since 2003 because of his infatuation – coach Lovie Smith is equally guilty – with defensive linemen, even when that didn't appear to be a position of need. From 2006-09, Angelo took four defensive linemen in the first three rounds and saw none of them pan out: Dusty Dvoracek (2006, Round 3) couldn't stay healthy and was allowed to walk after his rookie contract expired; Dan Bazuin (2007, 2) spent one season on injured reserve and got cut the next year; Marcus Harrison (2008, 3) flashed potential early but is now a game-day inactive; and Jarron Gilbert (2009, 3) didn't make it to Year 2 before being pink-slipped. As a result, the Bears are stuck with solid-but-unspectacular contributors like Anthony Adams and Matt Toeaina.

It would be one thing if Tommie Harris was still a dominant player and able to mask deficiencies in the rest of the D-line rotation, but he is little more than a warm body at this point and hasn't made one big play yet this season.

3. Hard to balance continuity vs. further tinkering up front
The Monsters of the Midway started their fourth different combination along the offensive line in six games Sunday against the Seahawks, but it didn't make much of a difference since Forte and Taylor combined to average just 3.5 yards per carry and Cutler was sacked six more times – the strong-armed signal caller has gone down 23 times in four and a half games. O-line coach Mike Tice talked about the importance of cohesiveness up front throughout training camp, but when you add injuries and ineffectiveness to the equation, very few teams have the luxury of starting the same five blockers for 16 games. Right now, Bears fans have no idea if Chris Williams needs to be moved back to his original spot at left tackle or kept inside at left guard, just like they're clueless as to whether Lance Louis or Edwin Williams should get the start at right guard in Week 7.


G Chris Williams
Jonathan Daniel/Getty

Smith hinted Monday that he is going to keep the same starting lineup when the Redskins come to town Sunday, but if Brian Orakpo and the like continue to make Cutler's life miserable, expect to see more changes after the bye.

4. Tillman should have been moved to safety a while ago
Before Sunday, Mike Williams was best known to Bears fans as the receiver from USC that failed in his bid to gain entry to the NFL Draft as a sophomore, spent a year away from the game before being selected No. 10 overall in the 2005 draft by the rival Lions, famously flamed out in Detroit following two seasons because he wasn't in shape and then was let go after a cup of coffee with the Raiders and Titans in 2007 – two teams that really needed an impact wideout. After Sunday, Bears fans know Williams as Seattle's primary target in the passing game that torched Charles Tillman to the tune of 10 catches for 123 yards. Credit Williams for getting his career back on track when it looked like he was forever going to be another Matt Millen punch line, but Tillman should be embarrassed.

If the Bears had a pair of reliable corners on the roster, and the step back this season from Zack Bowman proves they don't, then Tillman would make a lot more sense at safety because of his ability to support the run and force turnovers, plus his declining man-to-man skills wouldn't be as much of a liability.

5. Special teams have to be the great equalizer all year
The Midway Monsters put together an awful performance on both sides of the ball in Week 6 against the Seahawks, but they still had a chance to win because of their superior special teams – Seattle came into the game with the No. 1 special-teams unit in the league, too. If not for a phantom hold called on Rod Wilson, Danieal Manning would have been credited with his second career kickoff return for a touchdown, and then Devin Hester did it again with an 89-yard lightning strike to paydirt late in the fourth quarter to make it interesting. Leon Washington did pop off a 42-yard kick return for Seattle but was contained aside from that, and punt returner Golden Tate did no better than 5 yards on his four attempts.

The Bears made it to the Super Bowl in 2006 with an average offense and an above-average defense because they were sensational on special teams week in and week out, and if they have similar aspirations in 2010, coordinator Dave Toub needs to keep pulling rabbits out of his hat.


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John Crist is the Publisher of BearReport.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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