Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

01 Feb 2010

Mike Martz to Chicago

After a long search, the Chicago Bears have found their new offensive coordinator: Mike Martz.

Martz interviewed with the Bears and met with Jay Cutler over the weekend.

The team announced the movie earlier on Monday.

Posted by: David Gardner on 01 Feb 2010

117 comments, Last at 06 Feb 2010, 7:24am by t.d.


by Anonymous (not verified) (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:21pm

That sound you hear is the wailing and gnashing of teeth of the entire Bears fanbase

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 7:40pm

They may be gnashing now, but I predict they'll end up pretty happy with the guy. He gets a bad rap as inflexible -- I don't know why. For some reason people peg him that way, then describe the Greatest Show on Turf as the only kind of offense Martz knows how to run. Believe me -- it's been a long time since he's had a Greatest anything. He made a Lion's offense respectable that, the year after he left, was the worst in the league. He came in to San Francisco and gave us the best offense we've had in years -- including this year's, when we had better talent.

He was a nice guy when he was here in SF; he always tried hard to do what they wanted him to do. I never got the idea he was arrogant.

He made Sean Hill look like a serviceable quarterback, and that's a mobile guy with bad accuracy and no arm (but heart...a lot of heart...whatever that means, everyone agrees he's got that). San Francisco's 2008 wide receivers make the Bear's WRs look golden. Our TE was our best option, and our offense was built around Frank Gore, and we had a crappy O-line, and Martz did better with them than we managed to do this year, despite our suddenly having Michael Crabtree to throw to.

I think of him as the offensive version of Gregg Williams. He can come in and make any crappy offense respectable.

I wish we had him back. Chicago's lucky to have him.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 7:57pm

Mike Nolan ducktaped Denver's defense together for half a season, got hired by Parcells and is hailed as a genius.

Mike Martz only had elmer's glue and gauze pads in Detroit, made Kitna look presentable for a half season, and people couldn't wait to spit on him.

If this guy is a bad coach, it's because he's anti-social (more than usual) among football coaches. Reading this thread, you would think he's a failed pro-golfer with no football chops. Either that or the virus of ESPNgospel has infected everybody.

by dk240t :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 8:48pm

Jaguars fans from 2008 disagree with your assessment of Gregg Williams.

I think this is a good move.

Is it a guaranteed success? Of course not. Are there offensive coordinators available that have had 1/10th of the success that Mike Martz has had? No.

Chicago desperately needed an offensive coordinator with some drive and creativity...they got one. This is a guy who has improved the offense everywhere he has gone.

Sure, Chicago has a major set of personnel issues on offensive, especially at the line, and their QB and WRs may not be ideal for Martz's plan, but this guy has made respectable offenses with JB weld and baling wire before. You think Chicago doesn't have WRs as good as Shaun McDonald or Mike Furrey, or Az-Zahir Hakim? You think Jay Cutler is no Jon Kitna?

by Sophandros :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 10:38am

And how much of his defense was Williams permitted it implement in Jacksonville? Seems that Del Rio called all the shots on defense there...

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by Phil O'sopher (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:24pm


Does the Chicago Bears front office win the Mike Martz award for off-season hirings then?

by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:24pm

Between the state of Chicago's OL and Martz's minimum-protection system, what are the odds of Cutler lasting the season?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:43pm

Yeah, that's the first thing I thought of. I had to look up Cutler's backup; it's some guy named Caleb Hanie. He has eleven career passing yards.

What could possibly go wrong?

by Deelron :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 6:16pm

I bet they could get J.T. O'Sullivan for a song.

by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 9:13pm

Probably some sort of jig.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 2:33pm

Caleb Hanie is a grad from my school Colorado State. He was good in college, and I never saw him as a real NFL prospect, but Mel Kiper said he had the strongest arm in the draft that year. And the Bears have seemed happy with his performance as the #2 QB for several years now, so he has that going for him.

I'd personally love to see him get a chance to play.

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

by TomC :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 3:55pm

Hanie has showed some promise in training camp and preseason games, but he's a long way from being a serviceable NFL starter. If Cutler gets hurt, the Bears are a 4-12 team.

by strannix (not verified) :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 8:10pm

And if he doesn't, they're probably 7-9 again. Big deal.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:44pm

Better than stiffs like Orton or Cassel, I reckon.

Durability is a skill. Pocket awareness is also a skill.

by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 9:35pm

While sack rates are quarterback dependent to a greater degree than some might think, it turns out that pass-blocking is also a skill. When Matt Lepsis suddenly lost this skill, Cutler took a lot of sacks. When Lepsis was replaced by Ryan Clady, Cutler was sacked a whopping 11 times. Last year in Chicago, Cutler took 35 sacks. O-line and scheme really do matter.

Also, what quarterbacks can influence is avoiding a sack, which is distinctly different from not getting hit. In fact, quarterbacks are typically more exposed when hit immediately after throwing the ball versus being sacked. I think Kurt Warner and QBVikings would back me on this.

My comment on Cutler lasting the season was somewhat facetious, but still on point, I think. Martz really does expose his quarterbacks, and the Bears line really is awful. This is not to say Martz is incompetent. He's a very smart football coach who is terrific teaching quarterbacks. The typical knock on him is hubris; in Chicago, the general paucity of offensive talent will be an interesting test of his ability to adapt his core philosophies to fit his circumstances.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 9:50pm

Mostly on point regarding sacks. However we should probably figure that Chicago's OLine has got to be better next year.

Durability is another matter. One, Cutler is going to be the most mobile passer Martz has worked with, so it will be interesting to see how he tailors the scheme to that. Most importantly, Cutler is also probably the toughest (or least injury prone) quarterback Martz has dealt with. When Warner's thumb was hurt in St.L, he was done as an elite passer. It bothered him through his New York days until it fully healed. Cutler meanwhile was used to getting his head ripped off in the SEC. He dealt with dodgy Denver lines pre-Clady and also this year behind the atrocity of a line. Cutler also had the famous year of undiagnosed diabetes. He's gone through his NFL days without missing time due to injury.

In that respect durability is a skill, and Cutler is one of the rare ones among NFL quarterbacks to possess it.

by AC (not verified) :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 10:55am

How will Chicago's line be better next year? Remember, they have one pick in the top 100, and that's at #75. And it's not like they've exactly done a great jobs with the picks they have. It's also supposed to be a fairly weak draft for OL.

Maybe they will pick some great rookie talent who can step in and fortify the line right away. But I wouldn't bet on it.

by Eddo :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 11:19am

The optimism is somewhat due to the fact that, once Pace was sidelined permanently, the line did look a bit better. Chris Williams looks like he'll be a solid, if unspectacular, left tackle, which is a huge boost for the offense moving forward. Hell, even Terrible Terrible Omiyale (that kind of rhymes, right) looked a little better once he didn't have Pace to his left.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 02/04/2010 - 11:20am

"How will Chicago's line be better next year? "

Orlando Pace won't be starting. They don't need new talent to be better. They need to put their best players on the field, and last year, Pace wasn't one of them.

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 1:14pm

Martz really does expose his quarterbacks....

There's no evidence of that. His sack rates and adjusted sack rates are usually pretty good. After he left the Lions and the 49ers, both of those stats jumped on both teams, despite the fact both teams went to much more conservative offenses.

There's some kind of myth that heavy-protection schemes better protect a quarterback, but there's no proof of that.

I also don't know why he has the "hubris" tag. He was here for a year and was always a good interview and a nice guy.

by Spielman :: Thu, 02/04/2010 - 9:25am

That's a "creative" interpretation of the stats.

Claim #1: "After he left the Lions and the 49ers, both of those stats jumped on both teams"

The sack rate and adjusted sack rate of the 49ers went *down* last year after Martz left. (9.8 to 7.0 in SR, and 9.4 to 8.1 in ASR.) They increased in Detroit from 2007 to 2008, it's true, (8.4 to 9.3 in SR, and 8.3 to 9.4 in ASR) but they were still lower than they'd been in 2006, also under Martz. You can point out that the 49ers rates dropped in 2008 from where they'd been in 2007, but then you have to deal with the fact that the Lions' rates soared astronomically from 2005 to 2006, from the 5s to the 9s. Claim #1 is just plain false.

Claim #2: "His sack rates and adjusted sack rates are usually pretty good."

ASR Rankings for Martz teams, HC or OC
2008 SF - 31st
2007 DET - 26th
2006 DET - 30th
2005 STL - 19th (Martz not there for whole season)
2004 STL - 21st
2003 STL - 17th
2002 STL - 24th
2001 STL - 15th
2000 STL - 15th
1999 STL - 14th

Good, no. Average in St. Louis, yes. So when he has Warner or Bulger, and their quick releases, he'll get by on sack rates. Without those guys? Godawful sack rates. And really, a lot of the reputation comes from the St. Louis years where Warner and Bulger took big hits from unblocked blitzers that weren't sacks, but knocked them around just as badly as a sack.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 02/04/2010 - 2:51pm

Ah...I see what I was reading wrong. On the Offensive Line page, the "pass protection" columns don't match up with the "run blocking" lines on the right side of the same chart. Who designed that table?

So yes, I was completely wrong.

I still don't think there's much of a case to say that he's bad at protecting the quarterback.

Detroit has the worst personnel in the league. He didn't do worse with them than anyone else.

On the 49ers the team dropped 15 sacks, but only had a marginally better ASR. A lot of things changed between last year's team and this year's -- at quarterback, on the line. Barry Simms on the left is a better pass-blocker than Joe Staley (though much worse at run blocking) for instance.

And on the Rams he was doing okay. After he left, the Rams came in 24th in 2006, 25th in 2007, 23rd in 2008, and 24th in 2009 in sack rate -- a noticeable step down from Martz's later years with them.

by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Thu, 02/04/2010 - 3:16pm

I give you credit, Toad, for admitting the mistake. Still, I don't think you are looking at this objectively.

Detroit has the worst personnel in the league. He didn't do worse with them than anyone else.. Well, yes he did. In 2006, the Lions' sacks-allowed doubled from the previous season, and the sack rate went up by nearly as much. Twice as many sacks is doing worse.

And on the Rams he was doing okay, yet he never did particularly well despite the presence of an elite left tackle.

Of course, none of this "proves" anything particularly about Martz, but the rather simple observation that Martz tends to expose the quarterback is hardly absurd.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 02/04/2010 - 6:29pm

You could be right, and I'm biased. In his one year in the Bay Area, I got to like the guy, which surprised me a lot, considering his prima-donna reputation.

True enough, 2006 was a bad year to be a QB in Detroit, the first real support I've seen for the assertion that Martz exposes his quarterbacks. I still think it's pretty thin support, and that the "simple observation" is based mostly on reputation, like pro-bowl votes. 2006 Detroit didn't spring immediately to anyone's mind on this thread. It made me disgruntled how many people were repeating that observation, and how no one (until recently) was backing it up.

by BroncosGuy (not verified) :: Thu, 02/04/2010 - 8:00pm

Just to be clear, my simple observation was not based on reputation, but on having watched a lot Martz's teams play (although I saw very little of the 'Niners while he was there). As Yogi Berra said, sometimes you can observe a lot just by watching.

by Anonymous (not verified) (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:28pm

I take that back, looking at the Bears fan facebook page, some LIKE this idea? Some of them think questionning the decisions is disloyalty, though, so whatever...

And broncoguy, if Cutler makes it to the bye week, I'm shocked.

by are-tee :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:32pm

Maybe Cutler should start demanding a trade...

by Brian :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:38pm

My knee-jerk reaction as a Bears fan is to say that this hire makes little sense. Cutler struggled with a line that had protection issues this past season; Martz' offenses, of course, feature very little in the way of pass protection. Jon Kitna was crushed into a pulp in his system. How's the result going to be different for Cutler?

There were rumors that Smith wanted Martz from the very beginning of the search, but that Angelo vetoed that idea. Of course, because nobody else seemed to want the job, Angelo had to capitulate.

by Duke :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:59pm

Let's go further! Chicago's best receiving threat is a TE, which Martz abhors. Martz's system demands very precise running of routes; Chicago's WRs are talented but, in general, sloppy route runners. Martz's system depends on timing and precise throws, which is not Cutler's strength.

I guess Matt Forte is sort of a (very very) poor man's Marshall Faulk, so that's a point in favor.

Overall, I don't see this working unless Martz brings an offense that is changed from what he used to run, almost radically so. Now, I think he might be able to do it, if he's willing to try; all evidence suggests that Martz has an above-average offensive mind. But he has to work with what he's got. Jay Cutler is a good, talented QB but he isn't Kurt Warner, and if Martz insists on making him that way then it won't work.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 3:02pm

Why would it have to be radically different? Would you have said the same thing before his recent (and at worst, moderately successful) stints?

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

by Spielman :: Thu, 02/04/2010 - 9:33am

Park effects, for one thing. The classic Martz offense always functioned best indoors on artificial turf. You'll notice that Soldier Field is not indoors, and it does not have artificial turf. It does have a lot of wind, which isn't helpful either.

by Marko :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:39pm

"The team announced the movie earlier on Monday."

Well, it will certainly be dramatic. Hopefully it doesn't turn out to be a comedy. Perhaps it will be a story of personal redemption for Martz (and for Cutler).

I don't think the entire Bears fanbase is gnashing their teeth over this. I think many fans like me are optimistic about the move.

One of two things will happen. Either Martz and Cutler turn the Bears into a potent, exciting offensive team and the Bears return to glory (or at least the postseason next year), or Martz and Cutler fail dramatically and the Bears have another dismal season. If the former happens, that would of course be great. If the latter happens, then for 2011 it's bye-bye Lovie (and probably Jerry Angelo), and hello Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, or someone with a connection to the Bears' past success, such as Ron Rivera, Leslie Frazier, Jim Harbaugh or, if the stars align, Jeff Fisher.

So we either have great success with an exciting team, or we clean house next year and bring in a new head coach who won't be as rigid and uninspiring as Lovie. Next year should be fun.

by JoshG (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:45pm

Couldn't have said it better myself.

by TomC :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:52pm

I was against against this move from the moment it was floated, but as a Bears fan and full-on Kool-Aid drinker, I'm now searching for ways to convince myself it will work out.

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 6:08pm

You are way more optimistic about this than I am.

by Chip :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 6:35pm

Agreed. There is no way that this ends well.

Let's start with the cons:
- One-year to learn the most complex offense in NFL history, that
- requires a mobile QB (with an itchy trigger finger and suspect field vision perfectly suited to run bootlegs in the WCO) to become a pocket passer, and
- requires 5- and 7-step drops from an O-Line that surrendered 84 sacks + hits (35/49) on 593 attempts (~14%) on primarily 3-step drops, and
- requires precision routes from WRs that aren't football smart, run sloppy routes, can't beat jam coverage, and don't know what to do when plays break down, and
- requires a receiving H-back/TE to block on most plays, and
- will get no help from free agency or the draft to beaf up a weak roster.

The pros:
- Everyone is fired when this experiment flames out.

by Thanos (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 6:17pm

But could Cutler survive the 'bad scenario' hypothetical?
And if he does survive, will he be able to recover from the beating?

This is exactly why cleaning house was the superior option to what was decided in Halas Hall. Rebuilding is now going to be one year later.

by Marko :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 6:37pm

I completely agree that cleaning house this year was the superior option. But that train already left the station four weeks ago, when the Bears decided that they didn't want to pay off the last two years of Lovie's contract and that Bears fans hadn't been tormented enough the last three years by Lovie's bonehead decisions.

by t.d. :: Sat, 02/06/2010 - 6:48am

I was spared a lifetime of agony in my childhood by my parents though we passed through Chicago for several years of my pre-adolescence because they instructed me not to form strong attachments to any Chicago teams because they were all run by cheapskates and therefore they were all losers. McCasky deserves to be considered with Mike Brown and Bill Bidwell as one of the worst owners in all of sports and it's a disgrace that such a proud franchise has remained in such inept hands for so long.

by djanyreason :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:42pm

If Chicago's OL is going to suck, does hiring the guy who's best able to put together successful offenses with sucky OLs make the most sense?

by dsouten :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 6:13pm

You nailed it, I think. If anyone can generate offensive production without serious improvements to pass protection, it's Martz.

by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 7:08pm

Remember that Martz's only great offenses had an in-his-prime Orlando Pace at LT.

by greybeard :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 12:52am

Martz had great offenses in Detroit and SF relative to the talent level.

by Rick B. (not verified) :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 11:54pm

Hey, he still has Orlando Pace to work with in Chicago, though.

A little bit older and slower, but it's Orlando nonetheless!

by ebongreen (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:44pm

I found this highly amusing as well.

Mike Martz, Mr. Greatest-Show-on-Turf I-Disdain-Pass-Protection-and-Your-Silly-Running-Game, is going to a franchise with an outdoor-stadium, no offensive line to speak of, and a quarterback known more for his big arm and pouty face than the soundness of his decision-making.

Oh yeah.

Match. Made. In Heaven.

captcha: don't cookbook

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:50pm

Is there a scheme that wouldn't have gotten statues like Kitna or JTO "killed"?

Quarterbacks have a large hand in sacks. Looks like a lot of people still don't get it.

Cutler will be, by far, the most mobile quarterback Martz has coached. Chicago would have needed to upgrade the OL regardless. Name one OC who is guaranteed to produce more with their talent next year.

by Thanos (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 6:25pm

Quarterbacks certainly do have a large hand in sacks. But when the majority of plays call for 5 to 7 step drops and the line can only protect for 3 steps, well that is a problem.

As to your last statement, no OC is 'guaranteed' anything, but, off the top of my head, I would estimate that N.O., Indy, S.D., G.B., and Phillie would be acknowledged by almost everyone to be more likely to produce more with their talent.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 6:33pm

You do realize that Green Bay's QB was "killed" more than anybody last year right?

And Marty Morningweg? Really?

by Thanos (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 7:19pm

Of course I realize that about Rodgers, but do you realize that a vast majority of the hits came from his own willingness to hold on to the ball, a situation very similar to your premise?? Once Rodgers came to that realization his hit rate plummeted.

That much having been said, your question was about production and not about damage to the quarterback, so I do not know how your responding question is on topic.

Secondly, if you think that Morningweg is running things and not Reid, well, I can't help you.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 7:49pm

Since the question is about increasing the productivity of the Chicago offense and not the Green Bay one, I can't consider your reply on topic.

Secondly, if you can't recognize that Green Bay has vastly more superior offsensive talent so the performance of its coaching staff has to be evaluated separately, I can't help you.

by Thanos (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 11:29pm

You really couldn't figure out that I was responding to a direct question asked by you in post #29?

Also I would never dispute that ALL of the teams that I listed have superior talent. But if you ask a vaguely defined question, there will be more answers that are correct. You said to 'Name one OC who is guaranteed to produce more with their talent.' You made no allowances for talent in your statement, it was pure blanket. You either need to express what you are thinking in written words so that the rest of us understand, or not complain when someone gives a valid response to your imprecisely worded question.

by DestructoBot (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 9:35pm

A point of clarification - Rodgers stopped getting hit when Tauscher and Clifton were healthy and the line was no longer shifted.

by Thanos (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 11:21pm

Very true, and I do not want to give the impression that there was not a confluence of; 1) better ball handling by Rodgers, 2) better O-Line play, and 3) better play calling (from anecdotal evidence). These three aspects certainly all aided in the reduction of hits on the QB.

new best captcha: 'mescal in'

by DestructoBot (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 11:36pm

I would not argue against all three of those being part of what happened. Losing a target like Jermichael Finley certainly did not help during the bad stretch (to lend support to the playcalling argument). To try and argue the level of each factor, however, would be fruitless and left to morons commenting on other sites, which is a big part of why I love this site.

by greybeard :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 1:00am

JTO is a mobile quarterback. He is also accurate, has a fast release and a strong arm. He was not good at making the right decisions when he was with 49ers. He also was not liked as a person.

by Whatev (not verified) :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 9:47am

But hold on here. Wasn't JTO made quarterback primarily because Martz thought he could make it work?

by greybeard :: Wed, 02/03/2010 - 12:37am

Maybe it would have worked. He started just 8 games. Not just with 49ers but in his entire NFL career. Decision making improves with experience.
Besides, I don't think Martz choose him because he thought he could make it work. He was the best option he had. He had a damaged QB in Smith and weak armed Hill -and Hill had only 2 starts at that point and nobody knew how good he would be at making good decisions- and JTO. I am sure he would have started Manning or even Kitna if he had one of them on the team.

by timmy chong (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:55pm

Personally, I think it's the best you can do in this situation. If you're a hot young coach why would you come to chicago for potentially 1 year? Obviously that's why Bates ditched his interview. Chud was a decent candidate in my eyes but he still has no where near the resume Martz does.

What bothers me about people who are now bashing Martz is that they act as though Turner protected Cutler. In multiple games his play calling may as well have just taken the OL off the field because he damn sure didn't call counters to heavy blitzing. Also, the "Martz doesn't run the ball" non-sense needs to stop. There's different ways to "run" the ball. The Eagles routinely get criticized for not running enough but what people fail to notice is Westbrook would catch short passes to off set the drop in runs.

Anyone who watched Forte vs SF this year should realize that type of scheme is a good thing. He's a far better receiving back than he is a "pure runner"

by Dan :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:59pm

To add some relevant background information:

24-year-old Caleb Hanie was an undrafted free agent out of Colorado State who signed with the Bears in 2008. His only regular season appearances came in 2009 against the Bengals and Ravens, where he went 3/7 for 11 yards with 1 INT and no TDs or sacks. In two years of preseason action with the Bears, he has completed 60 of 99 passes for 695 yards, 5 TDs, and 3 INTs, with 9 sacks and a fumble. At Colorado State, Hanie showed a strong arm but also a propensity for turnovers. He saw the field occasionally as a backup during his first two years, and then started every game during his junior and senior years, completing 62.6% of his passes for 7.7 yds/att over those two years while averaging 203 yards, 1.2 TDs, 1.1 INTs, and 3.0 sacks per game. Hanie is 4th on the Colorado State all-time passing list, immediately behind former Bear Moses Moreno.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 6:44pm

Well, heck, if he's the second coming of Moses Moreno I take it all back.

by Kal :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 5:59pm



WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN US? In the name of the Ditka, what have we done to offend thee?

Horrible horrible thing. The only thing that's good about this is that Cutler has a good arm. But Martz's schemes revolve around a high-quality RB (which the bears don't have), a good LT (which the bears don't have), and several potent receiving threats, especially ones that are good route-runners and have good hands (which the Bears REALLY don't have).


by loneweasel (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 6:06pm

/Shakes head at this mob mentality

by Superted (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 6:07pm

I noticed Jeff Fisher's name mentioned above....how did Fisher ever get the reputation as a good coach? He's been with the Oilers/Titans for what, 15 years now? He's had 5 winning seasons in his career. 5 out of 15. This is an awesome head coach? Here's Jeff Fisher's career in a nutshell - Run, Run, Pass, Punt. Run, Run, Pass, FG. Run, Run, gadget play, FG. Titans Lose by 3 points. Bud Adams threatens Fisher in the media. Team wins a few extra games. Titans go 8-8, Fisher keeps job.
Yeah, I'd be really excited to get him as my head coach.

by dk240t :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 8:57pm

Jeff Fisher as head coach in 16 years:

136-110 (0.553), 3 division titles, 5-6 in the playoffs with 1 Super Bowl loss, 1 Conference Championship loss, world renowned "good coach".

Denny Green as head coach in 13 years (2 teams):

113-94 (0.546), 4 division titles, 4-8 in the playoffs with 0 Super Bowl losses, 2 Conference Championship losses, unable to get an interview in the NFL, even with Rooney Rule in his favor.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 6:15pm

How many more negative plays could the Bears really have compared to last year? At least Martz will mean there will be more big plays.

Martz will love the speed of Hester and Knox flying down the field with Bennet working underneath. Forte is a pretty good reciever too. The guy who'll be pissed is Olsen, he's going to have to get used to blocking and he's crap at it, 60 catches last year and he'll be lucky to get 40 next season.

This seems crazy enough that it just might work, though it's also possible that everything will implode and they'll all get fired.

by D :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 6:17pm

Mike Martz + turnover prone QB + Bear's O line + Bear's Receiving core = Not Good

So what exactly is the over/under on the number of int Cutler throws this year? 25?

by Blair Wendell (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 6:31pm

This non-sensical distaste of Mike Martz (both by the commentors, and by some FO authors) has almost no base in reality.

Statistically, he's one of the best coaches of the last 20 years.

He ALSO holds the NFL record for PPG as a Head Coach.
He STILL holds the NFL record for win% while holding a lead in the 4th quarter.

His win % puts him in the top 5 active coaches, and Detroit followed up his tenure there going 1-31.

His resume should make him the most sought after HC in the league.

But there's too much convential Kool-Aid floating around, I wouldn't have expected to see so many drinkers on this site.

Keep on keeping on fellas.

by tuluse :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 7:06pm

His win % puts him in the top 5 active coaches, and Detroit followed up his tenure there going 1-31.

by pete (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 7:58pm

Interesting you should bring up his resume...

2006 season
record: 3-13
offense scoring: 21st in the league

2007 season
record: 7-9
offense scoring: 16th in the league

2008 season
record: 7-9(though 5-4 after Singletary showed up and tried to have him run the ball more)
offense scoring: 22nd in the league

I could go on, but there are others on this site that can do it much better.
There's nothing wrong with the Kool-Aid here.
Keep on keeping on, indeed.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 8:06pm

Good to know that STL, Detroit and Frisco all became juggernauts after he left.

Or was it because those franchises didn't have the foresight to hire FO staffers?

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 8:49pm

Dude. Look at how those offenses did before and after he got there. 22nd in the league was the best SF offense since Steve Mariucci was coach. Detroit in 2008 was 0-16 and 32nd in the league.

Not only could you go on, but you should go on.

by SoulardX (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 6:37pm

Blair, FO has little historical respect for the Greatest Show on Turf, so this isn't suprising.

Personlly, I think it's going to work. Martz knows and teaches QBs better than almost anyone.

by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 7:14pm

I also wouldn't be surprised if it worked. Martz is hard to evaluate, because at one coaching stop he had superior talent (Warner/Faulk/Bruce/Holt/Pace) that many coaches would have led to success. At his other stops (Detroit, San Fran) he had almost no talent, and very few coaches would have had success with those situations.

So his coaching talent is somewhat of a mystery. However, I think he has a chance at success. I'm a Lions fan, and when he was there the defense, OL, and RBs were abominable but the offense still showed promise with a washed-up Kitna. Despite his last season, Cutler is worlds better than Kitna. If they can shore up the OL and add one proven receiver, the Bears' offense could be pretty good. Good thing the Bears' D is terrible.

by t.d. :: Sat, 02/06/2010 - 7:06am

wasn't martz the coordinator in Washington before he got to St Louis? Isn't that why the Rams went after Trent Green, because Martz was familiar with him and wanted to implement hs offense with one of his guys? How did Martz do there, and how did they do after he left? that would seem like a better test case for his system in neither a talent-rich nor talent-starved situation than either st louis, detroit, or san francisco would be.

by Justin Zeth :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 8:22pm

What constitutes 'working?' If the Bears offense is 14th in the league next year, is that a success?

The move makes perfect sense. The Bears had to know when they traded for Jay Cutler that they weren't going to have him hand the ball off 450 times a year. They brought in an offensive coordinator that will let Cutler wing it 600 times and has a track record of making quarterbacks look very good while they're doing so; that will make Cutler happy. Keeping Cutler happy is not inconsequential; it's pretty important. And there's not much evidence to suggest Martz is likely to make the offense any worse.

Whether or not the Bears return to relevance in the near future is going to have a lot more to do with whether the defense can restock on talent, be healthy for a change and start stopping opponents.

by SoulardX (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 10:11pm

"Working" constitutes a markedly improved Cutler and markedly improved offense.

by Thanos (not verified) :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 12:18am

While I certainly agree that there needs to be a restocking of talent (DE and BOTH safety positions), the conventional wisdom is that Martz built and destroyed (almost) Warner with his scheme, then proceeded to do the same to Bulger.

Look, I know that the guy is talented and creative, but I question his flexibility. The weakest aspect of the Bears offense is something that Martz has historically overlooked. Not to the extent that Spurrier did, but a lesser subject to him, certainly.

by Vince (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 8:39pm

I'll join the counter-chorus. As a Packer fan, this news did give me pause. The Bears are always a tough game because of their defense and ST, but at least you could always count on Ron Turner's lack of imagination. Big difference between Detroit and this is that the Bears have a personnel dept. that sort of knows what it's doing. Whoever gets any of these jobs is limited by the talent on hand. At least Martz has shown he can do something great when he does have talent. And I'm pretty sure he's aware that Soldier is not a dome, and he will adjust accordingly.

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 9:13pm

excellent choic foe Lovie Smith if back off and let Mike Martz work magiv. Cutler peefectly suite for martz offense. Martz crap head coach but genius oc when have right kidn of qb. Kitma crap so didnt work in detroit and guys mratz had in Sf were even more crap.

by Oldcat (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 9:17pm

I have no dog in this hunt, but in Chicago he will play 2 road division games in Domes. Having some ability to play in those kind of places could help out considerably.

by Terry Shea (not verified) :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 9:32pm

I cannot believe the hate this move is recieving from fellow Bear fans. They are acting as if we've had a top 10 offense the last 10 years and Martz is only going to ruin it. Newsflash- we haven't had a top 10 offense since '95! 14 years of mediocrity through hiring first time OCs, all completely out of their depth (or just completely incompetent in the case of Turner).

Say what you want about Martz, but he has produced results everywhere he's been, including turning mediocre/bad QBs (Kitna/Hill) into respectable passers.

If the offense is even average this year, it will be a HUGE improvement from the pathetic offenses we have endured for the last decade.

by Alexander :: Mon, 02/01/2010 - 11:42pm

Martz at OC is fine...in fact its a good move, except that Lovie is here too.

I don't want Martz and Lovie getting all buddy buddy on the sideline, I want the Ron Turner-Lovie we disagree dynamic where you end up getting the best of both worlds.

by Eddo :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 12:46am

In theory, the coaches-with-different-philosophies is a good thing.

But did the Bears have that under Smith and Turner? Smith is conservative. Turner is predictable.

And even if they did have opposing philosophies, the results sure weren't there.


I'm cautiously optimistic about this hire if only because Martz is unlike any coordinator the Bears have had in recent memory. Turner? Predictable and stubborn. Shoop? As conservative as they come. Crowton? In over his head, hiding it for a bit with "razzle dazzle" (anyone else remember that relatively glorious opener against the Chiefs?).

by Marko :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 1:03am

Yes, I remember that game against the Chiefs, and how afterwards the Chiefs mocked the "razzle dazzle" and "gimmick" offense. The Chiefs said it wouldn't work for long, and they were right.

by tuluse :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 1:08am

Don't forget Terry Shea (or do if you care for your mental health).

by Eddo :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 9:42am

Oh God... I had totally forgotten that era.

Thanks for reopening the wound, tuluse.

by ebk95 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 2:49am

Turner and Lovie was the best of both worlds? The horrific offenses we've endured the last few years would suggest differently.

I would disagree that Martz is different from Lovie's offensive plans. As soon as Lovie came to Chicago he wanted to install something similar to the Rams/Chiefs offense. Terry Shea was the result of this...it failed dismally.

This is his second chance at it I would imagine.

by TomC :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 3:53pm

The offense that Terry Shea ran (or tried to run) in Chicago is nothing like Martz's offenses. Shea called lots of screens and quick passes and rarely went downfield, whereas Martz (as detailed in many of the comments here) loves to 7-step it and throw downfield. In fact, I would say that Shea and Martz offenses are very good examples of what Dr. Z would call the fake and real west coast offenses (the real one being the Air Coryell style).

by Alexander :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 3:54pm

O god.

I said Ron Turner...and should have said Ron Rivera.

sorry all.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 12:06am

There is nothing mutually exclusive about this hire working in terms of immediate, significant offensive improvement, and not working in terms of significantly shortening the career of a qb in whom the Bears have invested a large amount of money, and more importantly, a fortune in draft value.

Yes, qbs have a great deal to do with the amount of hits they take. So do head coaches. It is instructive to look at two guys off the Coryell tree, Martz and Joe Gibbs. The latter always put a premium on protecting the qb at all costs, because he believed that a qb who got pounded on would have his performance significantly degrade over time. The latter never seemd to give a thought to that aspect, and always put a premium on getting as many receivers out in patterns as possible. They both have had success, but of course Gibbs much more so. This could be luck, but it also may be due to his style working better over the long haul. Of course, Gibbs for most of his career coached in a division with pass rushers from the depths of hell, and despite his best efforts, his qbs had severe injuries. The home field doesn't seem to be ideal for the Martz scheme, but then again Cutler's arm strength may allow him to cut through the gales of December well enough.

I think the Bears will be better on offense, maybe much better. I think Cutler is going to get hit really hard, really often. We'll see how long it works.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 12:16am

Oh, and let me note that if the Bears make a big jump in offensive production, it will be in part due to a big jump in offensive line performance, and that will be due in good part to Mike Tice being hired. The guy gets ridiculed a lot, not wholly on an undeserved basis, but know this; he is outstanding at coaching in the trenches, and if there is any talent in that unit, Tice will get the most out of it. He could be a more important hire than Martz.

by tuluse :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 12:25am

I was thought Tice was a good hire, and now you've got me pumped for the o-line.

Although, they are still lacking a 2nd starting caliber OT, and I don't see where they will find one.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 12:42am

I can nearly guarantee that the Bears will feature much more crisp, more efficient blocking execution. If they don't have the first day picks to reliably add talent, they did the next best thing. The Vikings got a lot of production from o-linemen drafted on the 2nd day, and even undrafted free agents, when Tice was running their offensive lines.

by Marko :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 1:09am

Agreed on Tice. I think he will be a huge help.

As for your comment above about the home field, I'm more concerned about the turf than I am about Cutler's ability to cut through the wind with his strong arm. It won't do any good even if Cutler is on target through the wind if his receivers are slipping on the sloppy, patchwork turf. Every year the field conditions are really bad at the end of the year, with players slipping and falling quite often. The Bears need to fix that.

by tuluse :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 1:13am

The problem is that the parks department is responsible for the field, not the Bears. Although, if the Bears offered more money for them to take care of it properly I doubt they would say no.

by Marko :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 1:29am

Yeah, I know about the Parks Department and their responsibility for the field. But surely the Bears have some say in the matter.

by dk240t :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 1:53am

Your cousin Jeffery from the Parks Department is going to move to Chicago...and clean THAT whole operation up.

by t.d. :: Sat, 02/06/2010 - 7:24am

Mike Tice is a terrific line coach and those of us in Jacksonville have been saddled with Jack Del Rio for a few years past his expiration date due to the wonders he worked here in 2006 and 2007. When he was hired the line quickly went from a weakness to decided strength, with the same players

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 1:21pm

The latter always put a premium on protecting the qb at all costs, because he believed that a qb who got pounded on would have his performance significantly degrade over time. The latter never seemd to give a thought to that aspect, and always put a premium on getting as many receivers out in patterns as possible.

There's no evidence that putting a lot of receivers into patterns and protecting the quarterback are mutually exclusive. There's no evidence that max-protect schemes better protect a quarterback. There's no evidence that Martz doesn't care about the health of his quarterbacks...his sack rates are good, and his reputation for exposing his quarterbacks undeserved.

His championship Rams teams allowed among the fewest sacks in the league. His Lions and 49ers teams both saw sacks rise after he left. I suppose you could say that sack rates don't tell the whole story -- which is true, but they also provide no evidence that he exposes his quarterbacks, and I've never seen a stat which gives any evidence that he does.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 1:52pm

That's because qb hits have not been well measured for a few decades, partially because of lack of effort, and partially because it is very subjective in nature. If you are arguing that having x + 1 or x + 2 players available for blocking, when x + 1 or x + 2 players are rushing the qb, or when one of the pass rushers is so superior that blocking him well with one player is unlikely, does not significantly alter the odds of the ob taking a hard hit, we'll just have to agree to disagree. As we will if it is your contention that Joes Gibb's offensive scheme did not differ from Mike Martz's, in terms of the likelihood of the qb getting hit.

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 2:43pm

That's not quite what I'm arguing. I'm saying that there's no stastical evidence that Martz quarterbacks take more hits -- in fact, the stastical evidence says otherwise. I've also never seen any evidence heavy protection schemes achieve the results, because heavy protection schemes allow for more rushers.

It's not a matter of agreeing to disagree. You're making an assertion that has no support. Of course you're free to believe that assertion regardless; I'm simply saying your belief is statistically groundless.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 2:55pm

You are making the mistake in thinking that the statistics available provide us something worth looking at. In this matter, they don't. You also seem to imply that the number of rushers available is a function of the number of players made available for blocking. This is often times not the case, in terms of practical application. The number of rushers is most often predetermined before the snap, regardless of how many players have a block-first responsibility.

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 4:34pm

I don't believe I'm making that mistake. I recognize that sacks as a measure of quarterback protection may be flawed. Or they may be worth something, and not be worthless, the way you think. It's a worthwhile problem for study, easily done with the game-charting project, comparing sacks to quarterback hits and etc., but to my knowledge that hasn't been done.

What I am saying is that the stats we do have indicate that Martz is above average in protecting a quarterback, and there are no stats that say differently.

And what is supporting your contention that Martz protects his quarterbacks poorly? Nothing but assertion.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 11:47pm

When people who break down film for a living tell me that a coach like Joe Gibbs is much more prone to use maximum protection schemes than a coach like Mike Martz, I believe that is meaningful data, in the same way that when a pilot instructor tells me that a type of maneuver increases my chances of death, I consider it meaningful. Perhaps you are the sort who would conclude that absent statistical proof, the advice of the instructor is only an assertion. I differ.

Or perhaps it is your belief that the number of assigned pass blocking responsibilities is irrelevant to the odds of the qb being hit. Again, I differ.

by tuluse :: Wed, 02/03/2010 - 2:20am

I think he is asserting that there is no evidence using more players in protection than running routes leads to less hits on quarterbacks.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/03/2010 - 4:30am

Yeah, I know. Which means that every coach who did not send every potential receiver out in a pattern, on every pass play, from Gibbs, to Parcells, to Walsh (Rathman was a good pass blocker), to Jimmy Johnson, etc., was wasting manpower, because there is no reason to think that keeping an extra blocker in actually protected the qb in any way.

This is an extraordinary claim.

by Eddo :: Wed, 02/03/2010 - 10:38am

Why are you so sure, Will? The game has changed since they heyday of Gibbs, Parcells (the coach), Walsh, and Johnson, as evidenced by the lack of success Gibbs's second stint had.

In today's NFL, where cornerbacks' contact with receivers is monitored much more closely, it could very well be that, if you send out five receivers, one of them will be open early much of the time.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/03/2010 - 11:12am

Part of it, Eddo, is simple addition and subtraction; that is, an unblocked rusher has a significantky higher chance of hitting a qb. Now, if you wish to claim that blocking pass rushers has no effect on their likelihood of hitting a qb, well, that REALLY is an extraordinary claim.

As to other matters, your definition of "lack of success" is a bit puzzling. Gibbs inherited a team without much talent, and went to the playoffs in two of the four years he was there. No, he didn't win in the playoffs, but that sure wasn't due to talent being sqaundered, as evidenced by the past two years. Also, Parcells, within this decade turned in perhaps the finest coasching job since the merger, when the Cowboys went 10-6, against a non-easy schedule, with offensive playmakers Troy Hambrick, and Quincy Carter, and with a defense which racked up a whopping 32 sacks.

Getting receivers open isn't necessarily correlated with a qb not being hit. Ask Tony Romo what happened against the Vikings a couple of weeks ago, or Favre what happened 11 days ago. Gregg Williams specifically decided to let receivers get open, in a tradeoff for smacking Favre at every opportunity.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 02/04/2010 - 6:35pm

Getting receivers open isn't necessarily correlated with a qb not being hit.

Neither does having more blockers necessarily correlate with a qb not being hit. [insert anecdotal evidence here.]

I'm puzzled by your scorn of sack rates and open receivers, and your belief in max-protect schemes. Maybe this is just the kind of football you admire?

by mrh :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 10:09am

I've always felt that Martz' strength was in "coaching up" under-valued QBs like Trent Green, Warner, Bulger. He had some success with Kitna, but Kitna had played some before Detroit, and less with JTO/Smith in SF. But it seemed to me that if you had a team that couldn't draft a franchise qb or acquire one like [possibly] Cutler, that you wanted Martz to turn some hidden talent into one.

Now Martz has a qb widely regarded as talented already. Will he be that much more successful with Cutler than he was in those other situations? Or is Martz not suited to work with a high draft pick QB? I don't know.

by Cabbage :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 11:02am

I originally read this as "Mike Kurtz" to Chicago.

Mr. Martz is far less terrifying.

by Chocolate City (not verified) :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 1:37pm

The horror! The horror!

by Verifiably Unverifiable (not verified) :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 11:59am

John Kitna was a starter from 1999-2003 and had 2638 passes plus sacks and 151 sacks for a rate of 1 sack every 17.5 dropbacks. Under Martz these numbers were 1271 dropbacks, 114 sacks (63 and 51), and 1 sack every 11 dropbacks. His weighted (by attempts) average QB rating was 75.8 for 99-03 and 80.4 under Martz. So my interpertation (from very little) is Cutler will get sacked more often and may perform marginally better under Martz.

by Jimmy :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 2:03pm

It is strange to think back to approximately five years ago when Mike Martz and Lovie Smith were widely considered offensive and defensive geniuses respectively.

Now Lovie is a sad sack clown who can't lead a dog on a walk and Martz is a deranged loony who froths at the mouth if you ask him to run the ball.

It seems equanimity is a quality many of us fail to acheive (me included to be honest).

I like the hire, Martz and Tice can't possibly be worse than Ron Turner and his pet line coach (Heistand).

by Anonymous (not verified) (not verified) :: Tue, 02/02/2010 - 11:21pm

Oh, Martz is certainly a step up from Ron Turner. I won't argue that.

I will argue that it still probably won't be pretty next year. I don't know who would have been better, I just can't say that I particularly trust Martz...

by Rick B. (not verified) :: Wed, 02/03/2010 - 12:06am

I personally think the Bears will be in contention to win their division next year, and will possibly be a contender in the playoffs as well.

On the defensive side, you have Urlacher coming back.

On the offensive side, you have a Pro Bowl QB finally getting a semi-decent Offensive Coordinator to work with, and additionally seeing the emergence of an (arguably potentially elite) strong, physical wide receiver in Aromashadu on his offense alongside several speedy deep threats in Hester, Knox, etc.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 02/03/2010 - 9:03pm

I think it's an excellent move, but I think it's an excellent move that results in a susbtantial improvement in DVOA but only a modest one in W/L, even with a partial rebound from the defense. I don't see the Bears going much better than 9-7, especially if Favre comes back.