The Giants aren’t just going up against the Bears’ offense on Sunday night. They’re not just playing Jay Cutler and Matt Forte and Greg Olson on offense. No, they’re going up against one of the few offensive coordinators whose name can be used as an adjective to describe his system.
It’s a Mike Martz offense.
“One thing about him, wherever he goes he takes his offense with him,” said Giants safety Deon Grant, who came into the league with the Panthers in 2000 and remembers facing Martz’ Rams of the early decade. “You remember all that stuff they had in St. Louis. I can’t even tell you the craziest thing they did. They were the Greatest Show on Turf. They were doing everything. They were using Marshall Faulk like a receiver. Running reverses. Reverse passes. Everything.”
Another guy who remembers what Martz did in St. Louis is Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. He was on Martz’ staff as a secondary coach (under defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, now the Bears' head coach).
“He really studies matchups,” Fewell said. “He studies techniques, he studies how your players play, and he’ll attack your technique and he’ll attack your players through his offense by motion shift adjustments. So it’s not as much of a coordinator’s matchup with him, it’s he’s going to try to attack the players’ techniques.”
Martz’ offense is a spread-the-field, get-the-ball-in-speedy-hands system that uses athletes to make plays. He’s got plenty of them with the Bears, from Jay Cutler at quarterback to running back Matt Forte who has twice as many receiving yards (202) as rushing yards (108) through the first three games. He also has a talented tight end in Greg Olsen, a weapon he’s never had before.
“Most people on the outside were talking a lot about how we would never use the tight ends,” Lovie Smith said. “I knew that wasn’t the case in our Chicago Bear offense. We’ll get all of our guys involved. You want to get the ball in the hands of your playmakers and I’ve been very pleased with how Mike and the rest of the offensive staff have done that.”
“From just talking to Mike when he got here, he’s never really had a guy like Greg,” Cutler said. “He has always had the receivers and the blocking tight ends. He’s never been in a system and come into an opportunity to have a guy quite like Greg with his ability to let him block and be on passers, protect, and let him get on the edge and do a lot of different things with himself. I think Mike enjoys having a guy like that and creating matchups for him.”
Grant said he’s seen enough of Martz’ offense over the years to pick up a few tricks that can counter the ultimate offensive trickster.
“When you have him, you really have to plan,” Grant said. “I don’t want to give away too many keys on how to get a jump on him from what I’ve read over the years.”
But one key, Grant said, is not to get sucked into the mind games of trying to guess what could possibly be coming next.
“He definitely gets in a defense’s head as far as making them think,” Grant said. “If you try to stop everything he can do and put a defense in for everything they do, you’re going to get beat every time. You have to know your defense and whatever your bread and butter is. When it comes to whatever he does, you cap it.
“At the end of the day, when you’re playing a team like that, you have to be on your own stuff,” Grant added. “If you try to plan for everything that they do, that’s when you beat yourself and you’ll be doing too much.”