After a long and sometimes aggravating search for Chicago Bears fans the Bears hired Mike Martz as their new offensive coordinator on Monday. Martz came in for his interview on Friday and then flew to Nashville Tennessee on Saturday to meet with Jay Cutler personally. From there things moved very quickly as Martz was named the guy who needs to be the savior of Lovie Smith's career here in Chicago.
Martz will take over an offense that has never finished better than 17th in the NFL in total offense in the last five seasons under former coordinator Ron Turner. Martz has a very strong reputation for being able to instantly change the fortunes of offenses he's coached. Most famous for his work as the master mind behind the Kurt Warner led greatest show on turf in St. Louis, Martz also changed the offensive fortunes for the Detroit Lions and the san Francisco 49ers.
Martz you could argue is credited with developing the successful career path of Kurt Warner who retired the day Martz interviewed with the Bears. Warner it can be argued is a future hall of famer and one of the greatest post season QBs in the history of the game.
In Cutler Martz has a quarterback every bit as capable, from a talent standpoint of being a career hall of fame quarterback, what Cutler needs is that mental and coaching and development. Martz is a career quarterback guru and passing coordinating genius who has put up NFL records when his offense has a balance of talent to go with his scheme.
The question however will be do the Bears have the talent in place for Martz to work his magic?
Arguably the Bears do have that level of talent at three critical positions on the field, running back, tight end and at quarterback. Matt Forte is every bit as capable as Marshall Faulk was in St. Louis of putting up a high level of total yards from scrimmage that Faulk put up in St. Louis. No Forte is not as talented as Faulk, but he proved as a rookie that he's a threat in the receiving game and running game. It will be up to Martz to not only get Forte on track but to also utilize the talent of TE Greg Olsen, something
Martz's offense is not known for, using the TE.
Worry about whether Martz will get too pass happy with the Bears may be somewhat off-set by the addition of offensive line coach Mike Tice in Chicago. Tice is one of the best O-Line coaches in the NFL and is used to having to mix his blocking schemes with a high powered passing attack from his days in Minnesota. The Vikings' offense featured a wide-open passing attack with a rejuvenated Randall Cunningham as well as a dynamite receiving duo in Cris Carter and Randy Moss. But what brought balance to the offense was running back Robert Smith and the powerful Vikings offensive line led by Tice.
Smith is like Forte, not ultra talented like an Adrian Peterson, just a tough scrappy get the tough yards type of RB who had a successful short term career with the Vikings. Tice is just the right catalyst to help get enough out of the running game for the Bears to not get too far away from what Lovie wants. Tice brings a smash mouth type mentality to the offense that should easily help to balance Martz.
The Bears made this hire likely based on the confidence they have in Tice in helping to get the best possible production from the offensive line they have on hand. Martz's offense does ask a lot of the offensive line in protection and Tice's unit will be asked to do a lot with a unit that struggled mightily in 2009. Tice's reputation is as strong as Martz's reputation so the Bears have that working for them, at least on paper.
In the end there is not a lot of criticism that can be leveled at the Martz hiring, he is the best candidate available, his reputation at instantly effecting the trajectory of offenses is one of the best and it's what the Bears need to win.
There should be no real concern with this hire, because in the end it will come down to wins and losses and the defense doing their part to win football games. Getting off the field on third down, generate a pass rush are the top priorities on defense. If the Bears make the playoffs in 2010 then the cries to fire Lovie Smith will begin to die down, if Martz is a part of a playoff resurrection then the hire will have been a success.
This may be the fact that has gotten lost in all the anger and frustration directed at the Bears during this search, it doesn't matter who the head coach is, the offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator just as long as the Bears are winning.