In 2010 the Chicago Bears hired Mike Martz to be their Offensive Coordinator, with the hope that he would rekindle the magic from his ‘Greatest Show On Turf’ St. Louis Rams days. While the Rams played in the controlled environment of a dome, the Bears play on the comical sod of Soldier Field.
The Chicago playing surface has a sketchy reputation, with an almost weekly resodding, and many fans started joking that the Bears offense under Martz would be the Greatest Show On Sod. While the Bears did have some success under Martz’s guidance, a truly great offense never materialized. To be fair to Martz, part of the blame has to fall on former general manager Jerry Angelo, who failed to upgrade the offense with enough weapons for trigger-man Jay Cutler.
Martz “elected” (wink wink) to walk away from the Bears after his contract expired following the 2011 season, and they promoted offensive line coach Mike Tice to call the plays. But perhaps more importantly, the Bears upgraded the talent on the offensive side of the ball too. New G.M. Phil Emery made it a point to acquire talent to bring the Bears offense into the 21st century and now, 2012 may finally see the Chicago Bears as The Greatest Show On Sod.
Jay Cutler is on the cusp of being in that top tier of quarterbacks, his talent was never a question, it was his decision making and having the play makers around him that made the difference. Under Martz though his decision making improved, and now under Tice, the Bears have the players to get it done.
We’re only one week into the ‘12 season, but Bears fans have to like what they see. Holdover Matt Forte is a Pro Bowl running back, but he’ll see his load lightened by Michael Bush, who is a capable starting tailback in his own right. In week 1 against the Colts the two rushed 28 times, for 122 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Forte chipped in with 3 catches for 40 yards.
However, the biggest change in the offensive dynamic revolves around the wide outs. Brandon Marshall has settled into the #1 WR role quite nicely with 9 grabs for 119 and a TD. His acquisition allows Devin Hester to no longer have the unfair expectations of being a #1 receiver. Hester was able to return kicks and punts, add a couple catches, and work a bit in the end around game. Once as a decoy, and once taking the ball.
Sure handed Earl Bennett, who has the skill set of a slot receiver, is able to be just that. His 3 receptions for 50 yards was third best for the Bears on the day behind rookie Alshon Jeffery. The 2nd round draft pick had 3 catches for 80 yards, including a beautiful 42 yard TD pass from Cutler. Speaking of Jay, he was 21 of 35 for 333 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 Int for a 98.9 QB rating.
Chicago Bears fans are finally being treated to an explosive offense, and Mike Tice built it specifically around the skill set of Jay Cutler. One other exciting new feature is the ability for the QBs to audible, something that was a no-no under Martz.
So is this Bears O the Greatest Show On Sod? Time will tell, but it’s a heck of a start.