Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune looks at the bright side of a labor stoppage. In his own way:
“Most of their important players remain the same, as does the coaching staff, which means the Bears don’t lose as much as teams with new administrations (Ron Rivera in Carolina, hello) or teams without a starter at the most important positions (Vikings quarterback, hello).”
Truth. The Bears franchise is reasonably stable overall personnel-wise right now, especially on defense. For sure there are improvements that we all want to see (as below). But it isn’t like they’ve hired a new defensive coordinator who is bringing in a new scheme like the Dallas Cowboys.
The Bears have a quarterback – a pretty good quarterback all things considered – and he knows the system within the limits of what was accomplished in one year. Indeed, everyone important player knows the system on both sides of the ball and the worst thing that can happen is that you bring in a couple offensive linemen, one of whom will likely be a veteran, and they have to learn fast before a season starts.
That all makes the Bears better off than a pretty good percentage of the league.
But of course it wouldn’t be Rosenbloom without at least a little sarcasm:
“But the second benefit, especially if this goes into what used to be training camp, is that [offensive coordinator Mike] Martz will not be able to insist on running the Martz offense. There simply won’t be time or capable bodies. Martz tried to run his deal last year, and finally had to be sent to his room without dessert during the bye week. The longer this goes, the less chance Martz has of finding new ways to kill the quarterback by failing to recognize how limited the Bears are in other areas. The fact that this has to be pointed out to him is embarrassing enough, but the fact that he can’t call a play right now is wonderful salvation.”
Actually, though most fans would probably agree with him, I’m going to disagree with Rosenbloom’s underlying point here. You don’t tell Martz not to try to run his scheme (within reason). I think the goal for the Bear offense is to get the personnel and experience to run that scheme the way its supposed to run.
Everyone in Chicago wants a run-first oriented offense and that’s fine. Martz has shown that he can do that. But this team also needs to be able to pass and they need to be able to do it Matz’s way. Those seven step drops that everyone hates are going to keep re-appearing. That’s who he is and what he does. That’s what he was hired to do. Blaming him for trying to do it is like blaming the Chicago weather for being cold.
Martz’s offense can work, especially if a good running game continues to be a part of it. The fact that he couldn’t run it the way he wants last year should be considered to be a failure on an organizational level. Though they have a quarterback and everyone in key positions has a year of experience under their belt, the Bears still didn’t get enough of the right offensive personnel in place and they still didn’t do a good enough job of coaching up the personnel they have. They need better offensive linemen and they need better play at wide receiver. With the offseason headed in the direction it is, that isn’t going to change. And that’s where the labor stoppage hits the Bears hard.