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Martz: Nobody wants to throw the ball that much

The Sports Xchange
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Make Mike Martz the scapegoat for the Bears' offensive woes in the 30-13 loss to the Saints and their out-of-whack run-to-pass ratio. He says it's OK.

"If you're looking for blame, blame me," said Martz, who called 52 pass plays and 11 runs in New Orleans. "It's just one of those things that happens. I did a poor job of coaching, and we didn't play very good."

The 1-1 Bears will have to play much better this week when they face the Super Bowl champion Packers (2-0) at 3:15 Sunday at Soldier Field. The Packers run a similar defense to the Saints, but only better, mainly because of outside linebacker Clay Matthews who had 23 1/2 sacks in his first two NFL seasons and has one this season.

The Bears' offensive coordinator, a known proponent of the pass, admits that even he doesn't like to throw the ball on such a high percentage of plays.

"Nobody wants to throw the ball that much," Martz said, "It's certainly not because we want to do that. It's not fun."

It's certainly not fun when you can't protect your quarterback any better than the Bears have this season. Last season they allowed a league-high 56 sacks, and they're on pace to be much worse this season. They've already given up an NFL-high 11 sacks, on pace for 88.

Cutler was not sacked in the first half against the Saints, which ended with the Bears trailing 16-10. He had been sacked just once heading into the fourth quarter, when the Bears trailed 23-13 and when Martz admitted he may have jumped the gun by going into an all-pass mentality.

"When you get into that part of the game, obviously you're behind, but I got into a two-minute mode too soon," Martz said. "That's one of the things I talked to (head coach) Lovie (Smith) about.

"There are obviously reasons, but none of them justify going in that direction as you go back and look at it. I've been calling plays for most of my life, and there are days when you don't do a good job. I didn't do a good job responding, and there are some things we should have adjusted to, and I should have adjusted to better."

In addition to putting a shaky offensive line in an untenable position, pass-happy play-calling puts quarterback Jay Cutler in harm's way far too often. He was still hoarse on Wednesday from getting kicked in the throat Sunday, and he had other bumps and bruises as well.

"Yesterday was worse than this, so it's getting there," he said with in a raspy voice not much louder than a whisper. "It's just a little bit sore. It's coming back."

Asked what else was bothering him, Cutler said, "Hips ... you could go down the list. I'll be ready though. I'm not worried about that at all. I'm not quite there yet, but I'll be ready by Sunday."

The greater concern is for Cutler's long-term health, especially if he continues to get pummeled as he has been so far this season. Martz is well aware of the risks Cutler faces if opponents can come after him without any threat of having to defend the run.

"Obviously if you throw the ball that much, you're going to lose him," Martz said. "So you can't do that; and we won't. We want to be balanced.

"Anytime he throws the ball I get nervous. You get close to someone like this, and you worry about him. They're like your own kids. But he's probably one of the most physically tough and mentally tough people I've ever been around. He's incredibly tough, so from that part of it, I don't worry about it."

But Cutler has been hit like a rented mule for the past two weeks, and he was asked if he could make it through an entire season enduring that kind of punishment.

"I don't know," he said. "I don't know."

SERIES HISTORY
182nd regular-season meeting. Bears lead 92-83-6. Packers have won four of the last five meetings, including the last two. In the 2010 regular-season finale, the Packers won 10-3 at Lambeau Field to qualify for the playoffs, and three weeks later beat the Bears 21-14 at Soldier Field to earn a Super Bowl berth. In that game, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler missed most of the second half with a sprained knee that had outsiders questioning his toughness, although teammates defended him.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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