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Mike Martz: Caleb Hanie can handle offense

Mike Martz says he has much better feel for Caleb Hanie after his first start against Raiders. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Mike Martz says he has a much better feel for Caleb Hanie after his first start against the Raiders. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 3, 2012 9:10AM

While some critics thought Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz gave Caleb Hanie too much to handle in Hanie’s first NFL start last week, Martz said Wednesday he probably gave him too little.

The Bears had a season-high 401 yards against the Raiders, but Hanie’s three first-half interceptions were too much to overcome in a 25-20 loss.

‘‘I was a little conservative early with him when I probably didn’t need to be,’’ Martz said. ‘‘You’ve got to give him the full scope of things. He can see things and react to them and make those throws. There are things he does better than others, and we’ll try to focus on [that]. I have a much better feel for him now than I did going into that game.’’

Martz defended his call of an ill-fated throwback screen on a second-and-one play from the Raiders’ 7-yard line late in the first half. Linebacker Aaron Curry read the play all the way and tipped the pass intended for Kellen Davis. Kamerion Wimbley intercepted it and returned it 73 yards.

‘‘No — shoot, I’ve thrown that for 20 years, and it’s never been anything but a good play,’’ Martz said. ‘‘We didn’t execute it well. And the ball got tipped. Screens aren’t hard. It’s just that something happened. I didn’t think twice about the call.’’

Martz lauded Hanie’s overall performance.

‘‘The good news is he got better as the game went on,’’ he said. ‘‘He’s a smart guy. He sees things well. He can do what we do. He just needs to play. I expect him to [pick up] where he left off in that game.’’

Martz would neither confirm nor deny reports that he’s interested in the vacant head-coaching position at Arizona State, where he was an assistant for nine years from 1983 to ’91.

‘‘I would never discuss . . . those kinds of things,’’ he said. ‘‘I have a job. This job is the only one I’ll discuss. I appreciate what you’re saying, but it would be inappropriate to talk about anything like that.’’

But Martz also would not address his future with the Bears. Martz is in the last year of his two-year deal. He turned down an extension in the offseason. After spending two years learning Martz’s system, Jay Cutler and the offense would be back at square one if Martz doesn’t return.

‘‘I learned a long time ago, I just don’t worry about that anymore. I did at one time,’’ Martz said. ‘‘Today is more than enough. We’ll worry about tomorrow when it gets here in this business. When you start worrying about those other things, you take your eye off the target, and you don’t do a good job at the job you have presently.’’

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