If Mike Martz leaves after this season, as expected, there will be some reckoning. To some extent, there already can be one as far as what Martz has done to and with the Chicago offense. Two areas stand out dramatically.
Jay Cutler emerged as a top-tier NFL quarterback through the middle of this season. The fact that he and Martz had their clashes was apparent and the question will be whether Cutler developed because of Martz or in spite of Martz, since the Bears offense was at its most successful when it least resembled the Martz template.
Backup quarterback has been a disaster, something that had not been the case under Ron Turner or even John Shoop. GM Jerry Angelo had brought in proven veteran backups (Jim Miller, Chris Chandler, Brian Griese, Kyle Orton, Jeff Blake) and the Bears seemed content with Caleb Hanie and a two-pack at QB in 2009 under Turner.
They added youth via the draft in 2010 (Dan LeFevour) and 2011 (Nathan Enderle). While numerous other franchises have had impact play from their rookie quarterbacks, the system in Chicago has not worked to get a rookie on the field under Martz.
Hanie has proved a disaster and Enderle was not deemed field-worthy through this point of the season. At some level, the question is reasonable as to whether this is an offense that for whatever reason is too Byzantine for its own good?
It did not sound Wednesday like Martz had a handle on what the problems were.
Those are all things we have to look back at and reflect and make sure that we spend time going over that with Caleb and make sure we can fix that, Martz said.
The organization has twice given Martz what he wanted at tight end, with less than satisfactory results.
Brandon Manumaleuna was a colossal (financially and other ways) bust last offseason. The Bears traded away Greg Olsen, deemed not a fit for Martz, and that has been its own disaster. The guy who didnt fit had 41 catches and 5 touchdowns last season; Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth, given Olsens job, have combined for 22 catches and 6 touchdowns.
These two tight ends allow us in our running game to do special things that nobody else in the league is doing, Martz said.
Maybe. But Olsen, playing with a rookie quarterback (Cam Newton), has 45 catches and 5 touchdowns. Combined with Jeremy Shockey, the Panthers are No. 5 in rushing yardage, with DeAngelo Williams (5.1 yards per carry) and Jonathan Stewart (4.7) combining for more than 1,300 rushing yards.
Matt Forte ran for 4.5 yards per carry last season. He increased that to 4.9 this year but had half the touchdowns (3) he had last season (6) at the time he was injured. Olsen was a receiving threat the Bears could sorely use right now.
Indeed, Martz appears to be out of step with or at least running contrary to what numerous successful teams (Green Bay, New Orleans) are doing with the position.
Just the last five years, the athletic ability of the tight end in todays NFL, theres probably 12-15 teams that have a featured type tight end to oppose to years ago, there was probably a handful, said Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy. The ability to play the tight end in a 1, 2, 3 receiver position is very beneficial. Theres things that you can gain from that, whether its a potential matchup or so forth. Youre just seeing that across the league.