LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Matt Forte cooked the opposition first.
Then, a bevy of Bears weapons banded to fry the Cowboys on the road. Because of the offense's wide variance of attack in wins over the first two games, there’s a good chance Green Bay's staff doesn’t quite know what to expect Monday night when it meets the Bears at Soldier Field.
Unpredictable. That’s just how the Bears prefer things in the Mike Martz era.
“Really unpredictable,” said a smiling Forte, “because it depends on what area [opponents] try to shut down. If they try to shut down our passing game, hopefully we’ll get the running game going. If they try to shut me down coming out of the backfield as a receiver, hopefully it’ll open up Devin and some of the other guys at receiver.”
That’s precisely what happened last Sunday at Cowboys Stadium, according to several of Dallas’ defensive players speaking in the game’s aftermath, after allowing the Bears to complete several passes over the top and underneath as Johnny Knox, Devin Hester and Greg Olsen each averaged more than 19 yards per catch.
“Their back and two wide receivers can really fly,” Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said.
The diversity of Chicago’s attack likely equates to extra preparation for Green Bay’s staff and players, which – after two games – haven’t seen the club lean on a bona fide blueprint for success.
“It’s an advantage,” Olsen said. “When you go into a game in Week 1 and these guys make some plays, not only reception totals, but big plays and touchdowns, and the next game different guys do it. When you game plan, you have to account for everybody who touches the ball making a big play. Like we said, big plays are huge in a momentum game at this level. If you go in and say, ‘If we stop this particular guy, we can take one aspect of their offense away,’ you can do that to a certain extent.”
But not fully, based on what the Bears have accomplished in their two wins. Dallas initially shut down Forte in the passing game. But after taking lashes from Knox, Hester, and Olsen, the Cowboys let down their guard, allowing the running back to leak out into the flat for a 3-yard touchdown pass late in the contest.
“Guys continue to play their role, and when the ball comes, make plays,” Olsen explained. “That puts a lot of pressure on a defense, when everybody out there has to be accounted for.”
That’s the scenario Martz envisioned upon taking over as the club’s offensive coordinator, according to quarterback Jay Cutler.
“It keeps teams off balance,” Cutler said. “They don’t know where we are going or what we are doing. So it is working out to our advantage. We have a guy like Mike Martz who knows how to take advantage of all that.”