For me, the football season pretty much came to an end when it became clear that the Chicago Bears would not be going to the playoffs–for the third year in a row, to boot. The fact that Lovie Smith has been able to keep his job, while so many other coaches underneath him in the Bears system ended up losing theirs, only served to further alienate me from football.
Now, the Bears are trying to retool for next season, a retooling that includes hiring former Rams head coach Mike Martz as the Bears’ new offensive coordinator.
As the ESPN story indicates, one of Martz’s challenges will apparently be keeping his ego in check, in order to ensure that he works well within the system. The other, of course, will be to fire up the offense. Martz has an impressive resume as an offensive genius, but previous employers did not like him because he was “pass happy.”Given that one of the disappointments of the Bears’ offense was its running game, one wonders whether Martz will be committed to making people like Matt Forte valued players in the Bears system once again. And given that Martz has criticized Jay Cutler in the past, one wonders whether the two of them will be able to work together successfully. Specific to concerns regarding the Martz-Cutler relationship is the fact that quarterbacks who play for Martz are beaten up and battered around by defenses who benefit from a lack of “max protect” packages that are designed to give the quarterback more protection when he throws. Jay Cutler may be spending more time in the hot tub–and with a neurologist–thanks to Martz, unless we see a significant change in Martz’s offensive philosophy.
Martz is the biggest get for the Bears coaching staff, and he has come aboard because he is comfortable working with Lovie Smith; indeed Smith used to work for Martz back when the two of them were in St. Louis. Perhaps the partnership will succeed anew, but it cannot have escaped Martz’s notice that Smith, despite being retained for next season, is in a do-or-die situation. If he doesn’t produce, he will be gone. And Mike Martz will be in position to succeed him as head coach.