Bears

Mullin: Lions' QB Stanton not fond of Martz

Mullin: Lions' QB Stanton not fond of Martz

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
Posted: 8:20 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

A number of NFL quarterbacks -- Kurt Warner, Jon Kitna, maybe Jay Cutler -- have had the best years of their career with Mike Martz as their offensive coordinator.

For Detroit Lions quarterback Drew Stanton, announced as the starter Sunday vs. the Bears, the year with Martz sounds like just about his worst.

Before suffering a knee injury and going on IR before the season, Stanton labored (probably the word Stanton would choose as well) under Martz as a rookie in 2007 when Martz was Detroit's offensive coordinator. That Stanton is still in the NFL might be in spite of Martz rather than because of him, to hear Stanton tell it Wednesday to Tom Kowalski on MLive.com.

Martz reportedly changed Stanton's mechanics completely, frustrating both quarterback and coordinator

"That's behind me and I want to leave it back there," Stanton said, effectively damning with faint praise. "That was something that I had to go through and I grew up in the process. I'm stronger now because of it.

"Obviously with some of the stuff he was doing with my mechanics and what-not just wasn't natural for me."

Stanton isn't playing against Martz or a Martz scheme, which he pointed out. But as far as the Martz modifications that Stanton might have retained, Stanton was blunt: "Not a single one."

Pregame group hug, anyone? Probably not.

Martz hasn't left satisfied quarterbacks everywhere he's been but you'd also think Stanton might feel some level of appreciation. After all, Martz had a big hand in drafting him, second round, for a team headed by Rod Marinelli, a defensive coach, so Martz helped him to something of a payday.

And Martz isn't as negative toward Stanton as the kid is about him.

"Great competitor, smart guy," Martz said. "I know that he's a strong guy that when things break down, he can make plays with his feet. He did so in college; competitive. You watched him come back.

"The thing that impressed us in college was his ability to come back and make big plays to win big games. That's the job of a quarterback is to get that team in the end zone to win. He's got that about him. He's got that quality."

Strange comment

Not sure Mike Martz meant it this way, but comments the OC made Wednesday could be construed as citing himself as a chief reason why it has took about a half-season for the Bears to have a consistent stretch of quality offensive performances with Jay Cutler.

Cutler just put up the best single-game passer rating of his career, threw 4 TD passes without an interception, and was rewarded with an NFC offensive player of the week award. Martz, more than supportive ever since his hiring, gave his quarterback another pat on the head but did it in a fashion that ... well, you decide.

"When he is allowed to function, and do the discipline of what he does at that position, he has no idea how good he can really be," Martz said. "He's headed in that direction."

"When he is allowed to function." First blush sounds like a dig at the offensive line (coach Mike Tice?). But the offensive line has not been Cutler's biggest problem. Just musing here, but I'd put the offensive line at No. 3 behind Martz and Cutler himself as the ranking of things that have not allowed Cutler "to function."

As I noted in a previous entry here, at this point of 2009, Cutler had just thrown his third interception to a defensive lineman. Those were not the fault of Ron Turner or anyone else. If Cutler throws balls to giant men who are looking at him, no scheme or coordinator or offensive line is going to allow him to function. Period.

Or look at it this way:

Forget yardage totals for a moment. The 4-0 run in November is the first time the Bears have scored more than 21 points in three of four games with Cutler as their quarterback. Notably, the yardage totals bordered on the pedestrian: twice under 285 yards, and 360 and 349 in the other two.

The offense has had four straight games of 100-plus yards. That hadn't happened in the almost season-and-a-half behind Cutler.

The reality is that Martz stopped (since the off week when a change was made in game-planning input) asking a still-molten offensive line to do as many protections it can't execute. The group got Roberto Garza back at right guard, the line was allowed to smack defensive lines in the chops, and ...

Voila!

Cutler was allowed to function. Indirectly, or directly for that matter, it is Martz who has truly allowed Cutler to function -- as a quarterback, not just as a passer.

Ironically in the last four games the sack totals have gone up from 1-2-3-4 beginning with Buffalo. But the caliber of defenses also has increased, and Philadelphia's four sacks were all in the first half.

One more thing ...

While it is easy to blame Martz for retarding the growth of Cutler the Quarterback in some respects, it should also be noted to Martz's supreme credit that he has adjusted and may quietly be doing one of the better coaching jobs of his career.

That's right.

He doesn't have Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and the Turf Show in their primes, with an Orlando Pace in his prime and Adam Timmerman blocking for them. He's doing this with an offensive line that in fact has struggled through injuries and Nos. 1-2-3 wide receivers who began this season with on average 1.3 years of real experience, plus a tight end who wasn't sure if he fit with the new coordinator, and vice versa.

Martz arguably had to learn to accept what his players couldn't do rather than what they players could do. That's allowed them all, and him to function.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

NFL personnel compare Roquan Smith to Lance Briggs with speed

NFL personnel compare Roquan Smith to Lance Briggs with speed

Is Roquan Smith going to be the next great Chicago Bears linebacker?

Okay, draft night is probably too early to place such a hefty label on the No. 8 overall pick. Still, Smith will join a franchise with a rich history at the linebacker position.

From Dick Butkus to Mike Singletary to Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs more recently, the Bears have seemingly always featured other-wordly talent at linebacker. Smith's career is just beginning, but the comparisons are inevitable.

Laurence Holmes and Alex Brown discussed Smith's potential on NBC Sports Chicago Thursday.

"I had two NFL people with a lot of front office experience make this comp on Roquan, that he is Lance Briggs with 4.5 speed," Holmes said.

Brown took the conversation a step further, adding a player as talented as Briggs with Smith's speed is a Hall of Famer.

"Imagine that. We all know Lance Briggs without 4.5 speed and he was a monster, he said. "Lance Briggs with 4.5 speed is a Hall of Famer, in my opinion."

Ironically, Smith got the discussion going himself during a conference call after the draft on Thursday night.

"It’s a great franchise. A lot of rich tradition, especially on defense," Smith said. "From way back with Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher, all of those types of guys. It’s insane and I’m excited.

Former NFL quarterback and current Bleacher Report analyst Chris Simms compared Smith to seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis. 

"He’s a little Patrick Willis-ish," Simms said. "This guy is a special guy, he really he is, he is one of the safest picks in the draft, there is no doubt about that.

“He doesn’t care, he’s going to knock your head off if you’re there to be had."

 

Roquan Smith 'beyond excited’ to be drafted by the Bears

Roquan Smith 'beyond excited’ to be drafted by the Bears

Roquan Smith was still giddy over being drafted by the Bears when he dialed into a teleconference with the media at Halas Hall Thursday night. 

“I’m beyond excited, I can’t put it into words how excited I am about this opportunity to be a Chicago Bear,” Smith said. “It’s insane and I’m ready to give the city of Chicago everything I have in me.”

Smith already spoke like a future team leader — a role he ably filled as a junior during Georgia’s run to the College Football Playoff title game — and like a player who can make the rest of the Bears’ defense better. 

“What they can expect from me when I arrive is a relentless guy on the field and off the field,” Smith said, “(and) going about my business the right way and going to do whatever it takes to put the Bears in the best possible situation every time I step on to the field.”

Smith said he enjoyed his pre-draft visit to Halas Hall (he even mentioned the ongoing renovations to the facility) and is looking forward to playing with Leonard Floyd again, his teammate at Georgia in 2015. And for a guy who’s spent his entire life in Georgia, he already knows plenty about the Bears’ historic success at his position. 

“It’s a great franchise,” Smith said. “It has a lot of rich tradition especially on defense from way back with Dick Butkus and then you have Mike Singletary, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher, all those type guys, so it’s insane and I’m excited.”