We’ll find out on Sunday if Mike Martz has evolved

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 24: Offensive coordinator Mike Martz of the Chicago Bears watches a play against the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field on October 24, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Redskins defeated the Bears 17-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

It’s been almost nine years since Bill Belichick got the best of Mike Martz in Super Bowl XXXVI. In that game, the Patriots held the explosive Rams in check on third downs (5-of-13) and despite St. Louis’ 427 total yards of offense, they scored just 17 points.

But some forget that Martz’s Rams did beat Belichick’s Patriots 24-17 earlier that season in Foxboro. And while Belichick has beaten Martz when the latter was the offensive coordinator for the Lions and 49ers, it’s important to note that Martz didn’t have the personnel he now has in Chicago (not that his personnel is that great with the Bears, but it’s better than what he had in Detroit or San Fran).

This Sunday will mark a rematch of Belichick v. Martz when the Patriots travel to Solider Field to take on the Bears. After New England wiped the floor with the Jets on Sunday, many people expect the Pats to bring the 9-3 Bears back to reality.

And if Martz gets away from what has helped the Bears be so successful over the past month, then the Patriots will.

Chicago’s success of late is part great defense, part great Devin Hester, part improved offensive line play and part a near-flawless Jay Cutler. But one of the reasons Cutler has been so good is because Martz isn’t trying to force the ball downfield every play. According to ESPN.com, Cutler has the NFL’s third-best passer rating (106.3) on passes that travel 10 or less yards in the air. On attempts that cover 11 or more yards, Cutler has completed just 41 percent of those passes (41 of 100), which includes six of his 10 interceptions.

He may deny it, but Martz has an ego the size of Conan O’Brien’s head. He used to buy into the “mad scientist” moniker and he probably still does. But with the Bears’ playoff hopes hanging in the balance over these next four weeks, now isn’t the time to start taking shots downfield in hopes to get the best of Belichick. Because if there’s one thing Belichick does extremely well (besides video tape opponents’ practices…sorry, had to get that one in there since I brought up Super Bowl XXXVI in the intro), it’s patiently waiting for his opponent to show its weakness and then attacking that weakness.

The Bears can beat the Patriots on Sunday. As previously noted, New England is coming off an emotional victory over a divisional opponent and now has to travel to a non-conference foe’s domain. Even though the Bears are 9-3, it would be human nature if the Patriots suffered a bit of a letdown and again, it’s not like Martz hasn’t beaten Belichick before.

But Martz must stay within himself and do what’s best for Cutler, who has responded well to excellent playcalling. If Martz makes this game about getting the best of Belichick, he and the Bears may suffer.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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