Despite complaints about Mike Martz being pass-happy at times, Chicago threw fewer passes (466) than any team in the NFL. The Bears are also 21st in run attempts. Their defense was on the field 88 more plays than their offense.

Despite complaints about Mike Martz being pass-happy at times, Chicago threw fewer passes (466) than any team in the NFL. The Bears are also 21st in run attempts. Their defense was on the field 88 more plays than their offense.

But that’s not a bad thing. Five of 12 playoff teams played more defense than offense, including the Patriots (minus-59 plays). The negative teams went 3-0 in the wild card round, including Seattle (minus-108 plays) upending the Saints (plus 126). The Falcons (plus 148) have the best total and the Jets (minus-120) the worst.

The numbers suggest ball-control teams like the Falcons, Saints and Colts (plus 92) can only win when they play keep-away. The best teams don’t have to play keep-away. They can take it away.

Bears know what to look for
Seattle beat the Saints with two long touchdown passes on double-moves. That was always less likely to work against Chicago, which loves zone coverage rather than man-to-man; doubly so now that the Bears have been forewarned.

Innovative sports cuts
Rockford schools, facing a $50 million budget cut, are asking every department to make 15 percent cuts. Good. Usually, when schools face even the smallest cuts, they suggest dropping sports to ostensibly save money (actually, it’s to spur voters to pass referendums). Sports make up only one-half of 1 percent of District 205’s $400 million budget.

If sports need to be cut, forming East-Guilford and Jefferson-Auburn co-ops for many sports sounds good. Guilford athletic director Brad Seago mentioned three Crystal Lake-area schools formed a girls golf team that went to state this year. He said it would strengthen several weak teams and NIC-10 rivals could easily find other teams to schedule.

Cubs tardy with Santo statue
The Cubs plan to unveil a Ron Santo monument Aug. 10. The beloved former third baseman and radio analyst will join Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Harry Caray as Cubs honored with statues at Wrigley Field. He deserves it. But why did he have to wait until after he died?

Balance matters most on ‘D’
It doesn’t seem to matter whether you run or pass in the NFL. The two teams that threw the most passes (Colts and Saints) made the playoffs. So did the two that ran the most (Chiefs and Jets).

What matters is not letting your opponents run. The top four teams in defending the fewest rushing plays (Steelers, Falcons, Ravens and Bears) all made it to the final eight. Or making your opponents pass. Five of the six teams that have defended the most passes reached the second week of the playoffs (Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Seahawks and Bears).

Bears run long, not consistent
Footballoutsiders.com reports the Bears have run 44 percent of the time in the first half since the bye week, up from 35 percent before, and increased their average from 4.3 yards to 4.9 on those first-half runs. But Chicago’s rate of “successful runs” has actually dropped from 40 percent to 38 percent. The Bears have been living off a few big runs, with nine of their 11 runs of 20 or more yards since the bye.

Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at 815-987-1383 or mtrowbridge@rrstar.com.