Ted Phillips: Mike Martz ‘resigned’ because of philosophical differences
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org January 3, 2012 9:16PM
Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz listens to a question during an NFL football news conference at Halas Hall, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011, in Lake Forest, Ill. The Bears are scheduled to host the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game on Sunday, Jan. 23. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: February 5, 2012 8:18AM
A surprising purge Tuesday at Halas Hall still left the Bears in an unsettled situation. Now that they’re getting better at firing, they still have to get better at hiring.
That task not only will belong to team president Ted Phillips, but coach Lovie Smith, who has to find a new offensive coordinator after Mike Martz resigned over ‘‘philosophical differences.’’ Martz’s resignation appeared to be a technicality.
“That was Lovie’s call,’’ Phillips said. ‘‘They had some philosophical differences and a parting of the ways.”
Either way, it leaves the Bears with a huge void at a critical juncture of Smith’s coaching tenure. This will be the Bears’ third offensive coordinator in four seasons and, more important, quarterback Jay Cutler’s fourth in five years.
Smith struck out with Terry Shea in 2004, had moderate success with Ron Turner from 2005 to 2009 and saw two years of slow progress with Martz. He has yet to hit a home run.
“I have a lot of confidence in Lovie,’’ Phillips said. ‘‘We’ve talked about it already today, and I think he’s going to [get the right guy]. None of us [is] perfect; we all have made mistakes. He’s going to correct it, and I have complete confidence in his ability to do that.”
Offensive line coach Mike Tice is a logical candidate to replace Martz, especially considering the Bears might have trouble attracting prime candidates outside the organization with Smith on the hot seat under a new general manager in 2012.
Martz was hired after the 2009 season — over the objection of just-fired general manager Jerry Angelo, insiders have said — to replace Turner. The move was expected to maximize Cutler’s performance. But progress was slow for most of those two seasons, as Cutler acclimated himself to Martz’s complicated offense at a laborious pace.
The Bears, who were 23rd in total yards and 19th in points in Turner’s last season, dropped to 30th in yards and 21st in points under Martz in 2010. They were 24th in yards and 17th in points this season.
But, in another testament to how Cutler’s injury changed everything this season, Martz’s offense was never better than in the five-game winning streak that put the Bears at 7-3. The offense averaged 26.2 points and 348 yards in that five-game stretch.
Several Bears, including offensive captain Roberto Garza, supported Martz’s return. They know it’ll be tough to learn a new system.
‘‘If it happens, we’ll have to deal with it,’’ Garza said after the victory Sunday over the Vikings. ‘‘It’s part of the job, right?