Mike Martz isn’t the Bears’ problem
By Rick Telander firstname.lastname@example.org January 2, 2012 10:30PM
While coach Lovie Smith and GM Jerry Angelo seem to be bulletproof, offensive coordinator Mike Martz (above) might be used as a scapegoat. | AP
Updated: February 4, 2012 11:42AM
Will Mike Martz soon be the Bears’ sacrificial lamb?
It seems as if the offensive coordinator has a good-to-excellent chance of being swiftly heaved over the Halas Fortress wall for angry Bears fans to gnaw upon.
You gotta give the mob something after a disappointing 8-8 season, you know?
But would the casting out of Martz, much-maligned though he may be, solve anything?
I’m saying no.
What happened this season?
Think about it.
To review, we went through nearly every emotion there is with the Bears.
We started with preseason expectation. Then came joy when the Bears beat the favored Falcons 30-12 in the opener. Fear followed as the Bears lost to the Saints and Packers. Anger came next as the Bears had nine false-start penalties and lost stupidly to the Lions.
Then the Bears reeled off five wins, and we felt hope again. Not just hope, certitude. Seven-and-three — yay! Inscrutable quarterback Jay Cutler and Martz were suddenly in sync. But in that seventh win, Cutler broke his thumb.
Zip, the Bears were 7-8. Disgust set in. Who in the world gave us Caleb Hanie?
The victory Sunday over the Vikings to end the 2011 mess has made us hesitantly hopeful again.
But what does any of it have to do with Martz?
How about the man who gave Hanie to Martz? General manager Jerry Angelo.
Is it Martz’s fault that Angelo handed him a backup quarterback who couldn’t start on any team in the NFL? Is it Martz’s fault that Angelo gave him a backup-backup quarterback — the curiously adept, goal-post-dunking Josh McCown — who was coaching high school when the Bears called him just over a month ago?
No, it isn’t.
Martz’s offensive system is apparently incomprehensible to mere humans. And Martz had said, before he took the job, that he didn’t much care for a blank-faced, whiny guy like Cutler.
But it all changed. Cutler was instructed by somebody to show a touch of emotion and team spirit in his demeanor. Martz learned that running the ball with Matt Forte isn’t a bad thing. And there seemed to be an offensive future there.
But coach Lovie Smith seems ready to send Martz, his old head coach once upon a time, into retirement, again.
So the prickly, intelligent and hard-to-reach Cutler starts anew with a strange new boss? That’s not a good idea.
Even if the new man is Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice, once the head coach of the Vikings, it’s not good.
What it is, is a head fake. It’s a move to distract us from the real fundamental problem with the Bears: They are stale. They do not have the elite, we’re-always-going-to-be-at-the-top attitude that the best franchises have.
Anybody notice that the Colts fired the Polians, including big shot Bill Polian, who drafted Hall of Famer-to-be Peyton Manning?
What did Polian do wrong? Uh, he didn’t have a backup for his star quarterback.
Smith and Angelo are seemingly bulletproof. Just like Bears president Ted Phillips.
So tinkering replaces real change.
“In an ideal world, you would have the same coaches the entire time that players are here,’’ Smith said Monday, seemingly alluding to Martz getting canned and the effect on Cutler. “It just doesn’t work that way in the NFL. . . . We’ve had coaching changes. Most places, you have coaches that leave and players that leave where you can’t do that. But I think players adjust fairly well.’’
Great. Good luck, Cutler.
The NFL is now all about offense and, specifically, quarterbacks.
This season, three quarterbacks threw for more than 5,000 yards, with the Saints’ Drew Brees leading the way with a record 5,476 yards.
One of those 5,000-yard dudes? The Lions’ Matthew Stafford, for God’s sake.
He’s in Dan Marino territory. And he’s in the Bears’ division.
So is maybe the best quarterback of them all, a guy who didn’t even play in the last game, the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, an artist who threw for 4,643 yards and 45 touchdowns in 15 games. He’s in the Bears’ division, too.
Critics say the Bears need intensive help on the O-line, at wide receiver, at safety, at defensive end opposite Julius Peppers. All true.
But a backup quarterback named Matt Flynn just threw for more yards (480) and touchdowns (six) in a game than any Packers quarterback before or since. While filling in for the resting Rodgers. With a patched-up offensive line. Without star wide receiver Greg Jennings.
The league has changed, and it’s ruled by passing geniuses and their handlers.
You got something better than Martz?