Bears

Martz open to head coach offers; happy with Bears

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Martz open to head coach offers; happy with Bears

Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010
4:40 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Mike Martz intimated back in training camp that he wasnt sure he was up for another stint as the head coach of a National Football League team. He was 59 years old and coming off a year out away from the sidelines and three previous seasons of marginal success as an offensive coordinator.

Now, while hes not campaigning, and there will be jobs open this offseason as in any, if the call came from a team looking for a new top man to run on-field operations, he would most definitely listen.

Sure, Martz said Wednesday. If the opportunity were to come up again, who knows? Shoot, Im 59 years old. Im very happy with what Im doing right now. And if thats it for me, Id be the happiest guy in the world, too.

Martz left the ranks of head coaching in mid-2005 under contentious circumstances. He took a leave from coaching in October for medical reasons but his relationship with Rams management, already frayed, deteriorated further over the next couple months and he was fired in January 2006.

What followed were stints as offensive coordinator in Detroit (2006-07) and San Francisco (2008) and one season as a television analyst before he was brought back into the game last January as a member of Lovie Smiths staff.

The performance of the Bears offense this season will not post anything like the statistical peaks climbed by Martzs offenses in St. Louis. The Bears rank 19th in scoring (20.9 per game) and 30th in yardage per game (291.6), in the mid-20s in both rushing and passing yards.

Despite winning six of the last seven games, the Bears have not seen a significant improvement in the numbers by the offense except in the one statistic that matters: record. The Bears are 10-4 and good seasons generate pixie dust that benefits all involved.

Martz has made in-season adjustments, whether voluntary or mandated. While that suggests flexibility, Martz isnt claiming to be reinvented as to how open he is to doing it someone elses way.

Flexible has probably never been a word thats been associated with my name, he said. I think so, though. I like to think so. Maybe. Thats a question for somebody else, really.

Martz, who hired Lovie Smith as defensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams, spoke up on Smiths behalf when Smith was in search of the head-coaching job in Chicago. Smith hired Martz as offensive coordinator and now could be the one to put in a word for Martzs suitability to return to the No. 1 job for a team.

Martz is by no means looking to leave.

This is a special situation for me, Martz said. Obviously, I know Lovie and Rod Marinelli, defensive coordinator, and now I know these assistant coaches too.

I think when youre happy in the job that you do whether youre a head coach or a coordinator I really like being a coordinator, because youre hands-on and involved with football.

I really like that part of it and enjoy it. I think thats probably where I am.

Nothing is ever automatic, though. Aaron Wilson, posting on his @RavensInsider Twitter account, tweeted Wednesday that one of the reasons Rex Ryan did not get the Baltimore Ravens head coaching job, despite being successful as the Ravens defensive coordinator, was that he would not answer questions about the defense undermining then-head man Brian Billick.

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.

Even without practicing, Allen Robinson is making a strong first impression with the Bears

Even without practicing, Allen Robinson is making a strong first impression with the Bears

Before Bears wide receivers coach Mike Furrey met with the media on Wednesday, Allen Robinson was curious what his position coach would say about him in public. 

“I just told him, I don’t know you,” Furrey quipped. “Who’s Allen Robinson?”

Furrey, of course, knows who Robinson is. But the point behind that joke is that Furrey, the Bears’ court wide receivers coach in four years, is still getting to know all of his receivers — let alone the one who hasn’t participated in a practice yet. For all the positivity that's easy to find around Halas Hall these days, the Bears' biggest offseason acquisition hasn't taken a rep yet. 

The good news for the Bears, of course, is that Robinson’s past play speaks for itself. He combined for 153 catches, 2,883 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2015 and 2016, and has been adamant he’ll return to that high level of play when he’s cleared to practice. The Bears were confident enough in Robinson’s medicals to guarantee him a little over $25 million in March, per Spotrac, about a month before they let Cameron Meredith sign with the New Orleans Saints largely over medical concerns (Meredith’s torn ACL was viewed as more serious than Robinson’s, in short). 

So the getting-to-know-you phase for Furrey and Robinson is largely taking place off the field in the meeting rooms of Halas Hall. 

“What a great young man,” Furrey said. “He’s come in here, obviously, rehabbing and doing all those things. But he’s alert, he comes to meetings, he’s ready to go. Really, really smart, you can tell that from the beginning and he’s a professional.”

What Furrey, in particular, likes about Robinson is that he’s an “alpha,” but is far more than all talk and no action. 

“And a lot of times that alpha talks a lot and they don’t really put it out there,” Furrey said. “He kind of has that alpha quietness to him. He understands what’s going on, you can look at him and you just kind of get that feel of he has a great understanding of how to approach this game at this level. Obviously he’s been highly successful for a couple years with some big numbers, but he doesn’t act like that. He’s still hungry, he wants to learn, and I think he’s got a chip on his shoulder, which is a good trait to have too. So we’re excited about that.”

The expectation all along has been for Robinson to be cleared to fully participate in training camp practices. So while coach Matt Nagy said last week Robinson is “ahead of the game,” that may not mean he takes part in the final round of OTAs next week or veteran minicamp the first week of June. 

But while Robinson can’t prove himself to his new coaches on the field yet, he’s doing the right things off the field to make a positive first impression. 

“He knows you gotta come in early, he knows you gotta be the last one to leave, he knows you gotta study,” Furrey said. “It doesn’t matter five years in, six years in, you gotta take notes. It doesn’t matter if you hear it 10 times, you just gotta keep taking notes. He’s been really good at that, and I’ve been really impressed with that. I’ve been able to get on the field with him a little bit, just kind of throwing some balls to him, and I didn’t know he was that big. But obviously we’re excited for it to happen out there.” 

Protection Issues: Bears O-line ranked 21st in NFL

Protection Issues: Bears O-line ranked 21st in NFL

Mitch Trubisky has been set up for a huge season in 2018 with all the firepower the Chicago Bears added on offense. Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Trey Burton will give the second-year quarterback a variety of explosive targets to generate points in bunches.

None of the headline-grabbing moves will matter, however, if the offensive line doesn't do its job. 

According to Numberfire.com, the Bears' starting five could be the offense's Achilles heel. They were ranked 21st in the NFL and described as poor in pass protection.

Last year, the Bears ranked 26th in Sack NEP per drop back and 23rd in sack rate. These issues were especially apparent after Trubisky took over. In the games that [Kyle] Long played, their sack rate was 8.2%. It was actually 7.2% in the games that he missed. They struggled even when Long was healthy.

The Bears added Iowa's James Daniels in the second round of April's draft and he's expected to start at guard alongside Long. Cody Whitehair will resume his role as the starting center, with Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie at offensive tackle.

If Long comes back healthy and Daniels lives up to his draft cost, they should be a good run-blocking team from the jump. But Long has played just 18 games the past two years and is entering his age-30 season, so that's far from a lock. On top of that, the pass blocking was suspect last year and remains a mystery entering 2018.

The biggest addition to the offensive line is Harry Hiestand, the accomplished position coach who returns to Chicago after once serving in the same role under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. He most recently coached at Notre Dame and helped develop multiple first-round picks. He's going to have a huge impact.

The good news for the Bears is they weren't the lowest-ranked offensive line in the NFC North. The Vikings came in at No. 25. The Packers checked-in at No. 13, while the Lions were 16th.