Scoreing at home: The Martz system

604676.png

Scoreing at home: The Martz system

The whole backup quarterback issue really is still the hot button and it was good to visit with Matt Spiegel and Lawrence Holmes (sitting in for Danny Mac) on The McNeil and Spiegel Show on WSCR-AM 670 for our regular 10 a.m. Thursday chat.

An overriding issue, as Ive discussed on Bears Talk, is somehow coming back to Mike Martz, his system and his philosophies. The fact that Josh McCown is starting at quarterback Sunday in Green Bay and Nathan Enderle is still considered not ready after 15 weeks of season plus training camp and preseason, says not-good things about the Martz system and approach.

I threw out the Kyle Orton experience in 2005 where a rookie mid-round-pick quarterback took over under Ron Turner and did more than just survive. The way Turner made it work was to give Orton a Cliff Notes playbook and keep the offense even more controlled than even the normal West Coast.

And in a year when rookies Andy Dalton (Cincinnati), Cam Newton (Carolina), Christian Ponder (Minnesota), Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville), and Jake Locker in Tennessee have played, some of them well, what is it all saying about Martzs system?

And is it also points a light on Martzs predisposition away from young quarterbacks and preference for veterans. It was why Martz wanted a Todd Collins last year and unquestionably part of why McCown is preferred over Enderle despite the obvious lack of current NFL work.

The guys brought up Tim Jennings, who talked Wednesday about the fragile state of the cornerback position. He was pulled and replaced after a costly deep completion by the Seattle Seahawks, as Zack Bowman was last year for mistakes in the first Green Bay game.

My response here is that youre seeing a typical response when things turn sour with losing. Any player whos taken out is going to feel scapegoated, and both Bowman and Jennings are playing for contracts next year.

Bears Talk Podcast: Breaking down camp competition at wide receiver

wheaton.jpg

Bears Talk Podcast: Breaking down camp competition at wide receiver

On this week’s Bears Talk Podcast, we hear from Markus Wheaton as Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz discuss the training camp competition at slot receiver.

Boden and Stankevitz also weigh in on PFF ranking the Bears’ starting lineup 18th in the NFL, answer listener questions and add another layer of Aaron Rodgers envy.

Listen to the latest Bears Talk Podcast right here:

Can Leonard Floyd break out in 2017? The Bears like the early signs

Can Leonard Floyd break out in 2017? The Bears like the early signs

The Bears believe Leonard Floyd will make the leap from being a promising rookie to a breakout second-year player, the kind who can be a centerpiece of a defense as soon as this fall.  

The Bears in 2016 totaled 37 sacks —12th in the NFL — despite dealing with a rash of injuries and not having a standout player in terms of getting to the quarterback. Willie Young led the team with 7 1/2 sacks, which tied him for 31st in the league last year, while Floyd and Akiem Hicks each had seven. 

Sixteen players recorded double-digit sacks last year. That’s not the end-all benchmark for Floyd in 2017, but for a former top-10 pick with elite skills and, as his coaches and teammate said, the right mentality, it’s not out of the question. 

“With most players, you go from your freshman year to sophomore or rookie to second year, … it slows down, they understand it, they're not thinking, they're reacting,” coach John Fox said. “And so I'd expect that and I've seen that already even in the off-season.”

Floyd, earlier this month, talked about how much more comfortable he feels after a full year of practicing and playing at the NFL level. 

“Everything was just fast when I got here last year,” Floyd said. “This year’s it’s way slower and I feel like I’m doing pretty good this year.”

There are two issues with Floyd that won’t go away until he proves they’re not problems in the regular season, though: His weight and his concussions. 

The weight issue is one Floyd has heard for a while, joking with reporters during veteran minicamp that he was surprised it wasn’t the first thing he was asked during his session with the media. He said he “definitely gained some weight” without revealing how much he’s put on, only saying he feels like he’s in much better shape now than he was as a rookie.

“It’s like night and day compared to last year,” Floyd said. 

The concessions are a far more serious — and scary — issue given it took Floyd two months to fully recover from the second concussion he suffered in 2016. 

The Bears believe Floyd’s concussion issues are correctable, though, given they were the product of poor tackling form made worse by collisions with Hicks. The crown of Floyd’s helmet was too low, so he and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio worked with tackling dummies and sled machines in an effort to fix that issue. 

The hope is that Floyd can stay healthy and marry his skills with a better knowledge of the game to put together a breakout year in 2017. His teammates sounded confident during the offseason program that everything was falling into place for the former ninth overall pick. 

“He’s a great competitor,” Hicks said. “Great energy, fast, athletic, he’s everything you want in an outside linebacker, right? Nonstop motor — I can give you all the cliche terms, but I just feel like as far as the defensive line or an outside linebacker, another year under his belt is only going to make him better.”

Added linebacker Jerrell Freeman: “That guy is going to be good for a while.”