Blog Entry

Martz blames execution not call for Hanie INT

Posted on: December 1, 2011 10:43 am
Martz has been calling screen passes for 20 years, Hanie just didn't execute it properly against Oakland. (AP)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Before Caleb Hanie made his first NFL start last Sunday, replacing Jay Cutler in the lineup when the Bears faced the Raiders, Chicago offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who coached the Greatest Show on Turf in St. Louis earlier this century, said that he wouldn't ask Hanie to be Kurt Warner in Chicago's offense. (That didn't go without saying?)

Not surprisingly, Hanie looked like an inexperienced quarterback against the Raiders. He would occasionally flash potential, but he also threw three first-half interceptions, the last coming with Chicago deep in Oakland territory. The sequence led to a Raiders field goal and a spot in this week's Coach Killers (Hanie's delayed fake spike to end the game helped, too). The play -- Hanie rolled right and threw a screen pass across the field to his left -- is a lot to ask of a young quarterback. MLB blogger Matt Snyder, a huge Bears fan, was apoplectic after the play. Not because of Hanie per se, but because Martz would think Hanie was capable of pulling it off. On Wednesday, Martz was asked about the decision.

“I’ve done that for 20 years, and it’s never anything but a good play really,” Martz said, via John Mullin of “We didn’t execute it very well. The ball got tipped. So when you throw a screen and the ball gets tipped. . . . Screens aren’t hard. It’s just something that happened. No, I’m not aware of [any criticism for the play call]. I didn’t think twice about that call. I thought it was OK.”

To be fair, that wasn't your garden-variety screen pass (you can view it here). And while Cutler (and Warner) might've had little trouble executing it, Hanie, who had a grand total of 14 attempts and eight completions prior to Sunday's game, could've benefitted from a more conservative play call.

Just ask Cutler.

“We’ve just got to be really careful what kind of situations we put [Hanie] in,” Cutler said. “Mike’s got be careful with that. We don’t really know what Caleb’s comfortable with; Caleb doesn’t know what he’s comfortable with. He hasn’t run a lot of these plays, hasn’t run a lot of this stuff in the offense in game situations, in high-pressure situations. We’ve just got to take care of him.”

In theory, yes. But Martz is the same guy who, for the first month of the season, thought it was a swell idea to let Cutler stand in the pocket all day with little protection and take a beating. That strategy finally gave way to more Matt Forte, quicker throws from Cutler and -- wait for it -- more wins.

Can Martz adapt the Bears' offense to fit Hanie's strengths? Sure. The only question is if he'll get around to it before it's too late and the season's lost.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.

Since: Feb 7, 2008
Posted on: December 2, 2011 3:50 pm

Martz blames execution not call for Hanie INT

" on that note, I don't know why Cutler wouldn't sack up when Lovie wanted to put him back in for that play"  Huh?

Was a ridiculous scenario that obviously didn't happen, just making a point... if all the fans and media can think of is that blame falls directly on the shoulders of the coach and/or the QB, why not stop beating around the bush and go over the heads of the OC and the backup QB to Lovie and Cutler?  While it makes absolutely no sense to lay the blame on Cutler or Lovie, to me that only makes only slightly less sense than the previous stances of (a) stating that it was a horrible call by Martz that had no chance of succeeding, or (b) saying that Hanie somehow messed up the delivery.  As I stated, I think that the one action that could have helped change the outcome of the play that didn't happen would be if Webb slowed Curry enough to at least alter his route.  Martz could have been alluding to the same thing (not accounting for Curry) when he was talking about the botched execution, but of course this article missed that point because they can only think in terms of (a) or (b)... or at least they think that's the only story the fans want to hear about.

Since: Dec 31, 2009
Posted on: December 2, 2011 11:15 am

Martz blames execution not call for Hanie INT

Here's an idea for Mike Martz. Shut your mouth and focus on the task at hand. Hanie will get better (he proved that in the Oakland game). Work with what you have. Adjust the plays for the talent on the field. Cutler is out. That is a fact. Stop the pissing and moaning and get back to working on the gameplan! Adversity is the fuel that powers opportunity!

Since: Jun 22, 2011
Posted on: December 2, 2011 9:14 am

Martz blames execution not call for Hanie INT

" on that note, I don't know why Cutler wouldn't sack up when Lovie wanted to put him back in for that play"  Huh?

Since: Feb 7, 2008
Posted on: December 1, 2011 2:56 pm

Martz blames execution not call for Hanie INT

Martz was right... it was the execution, not the call, that was flawed.  However, it wasn't Hanie's execution, as this article would have you think.  If Webb slows down Curry just a little bit instead of waddling by and giving him a direct line to Davis, no one questions this call.  But I guess (based on 95% of football-related articles) it's easiest to blame the coach and/or the QB... so on that note, I don't know why Cutler wouldn't sack up when Lovie wanted to put him back in for that play; it's obviously both of their faults.  Maybe I'll write an article about that, if I don't see it on here first. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or