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Bears’ Martz should be more consistent in utilization of running game

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted Oct. 11, 2010 @ 5:38 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

The Bears went back to their offensive philosophy of years past in Week Five vs. the Panthers, relying on the running game to carry the offense with QB Jay Cutler watching from the sideline. While Todd Collins completed just 6-of-16 passes for 32 yards, including four interceptions and zero touchdowns before being pulled for backup Caleb Hanie, RB Matt Forté racked up 166 rushing yards and scored on runs of 18 and 68 yards in the first quarter.

Chicago gained 218 yards on the ground and gained 5.2 yards per carry in the 23-6 win.

"It's good to see we can still do that," head coach Lovie Smith said after the game. "I'm not saying we're going to get off the bus running the ball. I'll stay away from those comments. But today we needed to and we were able to."

Smith said Monday that he was optimistic about Cutler's chances of playing in Week Six, but the Bears will continue to evaluate him and won't make a decision on who plays until later in the week.

The PFW Spin

There has been an ongoing debate in Chicago over whether offensive coordinator Mike Martz emphasizes the running game enough, so seeing the Bears run 42 times while dropping back to pass only 22 times had to make some people happy.

What should have made them happiest, however, was the final score.

The Bears won a game in which their starting quarterback threw four interceptions. There's a good chance they won't be able to pull off something like that again.

Martz does need to make sure his goal is to strike a better balance between the running game and passing game when Cutler returns — Cutler dropped back to pass 119 times in the 3½ games before he was sidelined, and the Bears ran just 75 times in that span — but it's more important that he takes what the defense gives him. If the opposition wants to play its nickel and dime packages often, Martz has to make sure he doesn't stubbornly continue throwing over and over again.

A quicker release by Cutler, better pass protection and more frequent use of Forté and Chester Taylor are all achievable tasks that will help keep Cutler from taking the kind of beating that could land him on the sideline again.

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