Call for the clutts
The Bears have an actual fullback now: Tyler Clutts, a 26-year old newcomer from the Canadian Football League. Martz rarely used fullbacks in the past, though he often motioned tight end Greg Olsen into the backfield last year to take advantage of Olsen’s versatility as a blocker and receiver. According to Football Outsiders, the Bears ran 300 plays from a two-back formation last season. They ran 615 plays from a one-back or empty backfield formation.
And now for some non-surprising news: the Bears averaged 3.48 yards per running play from single-back formations, scrambles not included. They averaged 4.2 yards per running play with two backs in the backfield. When your offensive line is suspect, having an extra blocker at the point of attack helps.
Clutts saw a lot of action against the Panthers, throwing a block to help spring Forte on a 46-yard gain. Clutts is no Olsen, but keeping him on the field not only turns Forte from a great running back into an outstanding one, but provides additional up-the-middle pass protection. In our repair plan, Clutts will be on the field for more than half the Bears snaps, and may even see some action on 3rd-and-long.
Let Hester be Hester
The Bears' most dynamic playmaker has run exactly zero end-arounds, reverses, or other trick running plays this year. The Hester screen made a brief return on Monday night (it was not effective), but it was conspicuously absent from the game plans against the Saints, Packers, and Panthers.
Martz is using a lot of creativity to get rookie receiver Dane Sanzenbacher involved. Sanzenbacher motions into the backfield, slips into unoccupied zones, and does all sorts of things that keep him hidden from the defense. Sanzenbacher is a fine prospect, and the Bears should continuing getting him the ball, but some of these “Hide the Weapon” schemes should be designed for Hester.
So let’s make a commitment to getting Hester the ball on some kind of misdirection play two or three times per game. Sanzenbacher can also keep his role as a motion receiver. To get them both enough touches, and to keep Clutts on the field, we just need to say farewell to Sam Hurd and Roy Williams. Hurd can still contribute on special teams. Williams can broadcast Texas high school football games, or something.
There you have it.
A rebuilt and repaired Bears offense, with no money spent, no Cutler recrimination, and no carping about the run-pass ratio. With some continuity on the offensive line, fewer penalties, more help from the fullback, better use of Hester, and a 100 percent reduction in the amount of players named “Louis,” the Bears will be able to score about 24 points per game against good defenses and hold their own against the great ones.
More importantly, they will keep Cutler upright and not make Forte so frustrated that his contract issue becomes an even bigger issue.
Let’s hope Mike and Mike figure it out before someone gets hurt.
Mike Tanier writes for NBCSports.com and Rotoworld.com and is a senior writer for Football Outsiders.
CSN: The Super Bowl's golden anniversary will be held in the Golden State. The new stadium, which opens in 2014, in Santa Clara will host Super Bowl L two years later, the NFL announced Tuesday.
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