It’s 3rd and 2, Bears are on the Packers’ 29 yard line, down 7 with 1:15 left on the clock and two timeouts. Matt Forte is lined up in the backfield, and third string quarterback Caleb Hanie takes the snap. A big hole opens up on the left side; it looks like an easy Chicago first down. Timeout, Bears.
The Bears offense huddles around offensive coordinator Mike Martz to give Hanie time to get the play. As the offense lines up, wide receiver Earl Bennett goes in motion and takes the ball on a reverse. Predictably, the Packers swarm and Bennett is gang tackled for a 2-yard loss.
The national media wants to make a story out of the injured Jay Cutler not playing the in the second half, but I want to know why Martz would call reverse to his least athletic receiver against one of the most athletic defenses in the NFL in this critical situation. There was plenty of time to jam the football up the middle, twice if necessary, to get the first down. But the coaching staff dials up Bennett, running 30 yards clear across the formation when the marker is 2 yards away. Meanwhile speedsters Johnny Knox and the NFL’s all time greatest return man Devin Hester are left to block and cringe as the Bears’ Super Bowl hopes died before the ball was even snapped.
Then – to make matters worse – with one time out left, the Bears call a pass play with 2 deep routes and no check down, leaving the untested QB no time and no option but to heave it downfield and pray. Was the coaching staff saving that timeout for next season? The media should be talking about how Lovie and his staff blew the NFC Championship game. Calling the slowest developing play in football was clearly a bad choice.
Cutler played the entire season behind the worst offensive line in the NFL, was the most sacked QB in the league and played at least a few series with an injured knee. Let’s try to let Cutler heal up and enjoy his off-season in “The Hills” while the staff figures out why the Bears really lost the game.