New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell knows Mike Martz well.
He’s coached with the Bears offensive coordinator in St. Louis and against him throughout his five-team NFL coaching career.
So when Fewell speaks about Martz, he does so with an intimate knowledge of the man regarded around the NFL as an offensive mastermind.
And when Fewell says he fully expects Martz to have the Bears’ offense in “attack” mode on Sunday night against the Giants, you have to believe him.
“He’ll attack your technique and he’ll attack your players through his offense,” Fewell said on Thursday afternoon. “So, it’s not as much of a coordinator’s matchup with him, it’s he’s going to attack the player’s techniques.”
Fewell used the word “attack” repeatedly to describe Martz’s tactics. Through three weeks, it sounds like an apt description; the Bears, behind the big arm of quarterback Jay Cutler, rank second in the NFC in passing yards per game.
So don’t expect the Giants’ defense to duplicate last week’s performance against the Titans, in which they held Vince Young to 110 net yards passing, on Sunday against Cutler.
“Right now he’s playing well. He’s pretty much making all the throws,” Giants safety Kenny Phillips said of Cutler. “He loves to get the ball down the field … We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Another potential challenge for the Giants’ secondary is Bears tight end Greg Olsen, who had five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown in Chicago’s 20-17 win over Green Bay on Monday night.
It’s unclear how the Giants will try to match up against Olsen. Teams have attempted to slow him with a linebacker, safety and cornerback this season.
“He’s like a wide receiver out there and he’s a big body so he’s going to be a headache on Sunday,” Fewell said.
And Olsen isn’t the only weapon at Cutler’s disposal. He also has speed at receiver in Devin Hester and Johnny Knox. Terrell Thomas talked on Thursday about the importance of being physical with the Bears wideouts at the line of scrimmage to throw them off of their timing.
The Giants secondary also knows Cutler is prone to throw an interception or two. They watched Cutler throw two late in the fourth quarter against the Packers that were wiped away by penalties and saw an opportunity to exploit.
“Hopefully we can get some of those overthrows or tips and take his confidence down,” said Thomas.
In the end though, Sunday night’s game may come down to a mental chess match between Fewell and Martz.
“He’s going to have a new wrinkle (on Sunday night),” Fewell said. “He’s going to have something that he’s going to throw at them that they may have seen three years ago, but how will they respond to it?”