Mike Martz: Not Actually the Bears Savior

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Remember when Mike Martz had good reason to be arrogant?

Remember when he was the architect of the “Greatest Show on Turf?” Really, do you?

It wasn’t that long ago. Now, that once highly regarded offensive NFL wunderkind is struggling to show the same prowess as the Offensive Coordinator for the Chicago Bears. In fact, to even call his struggles “struggles” is being very kind (to Martz, not to the word “struggles”).

The last time Mike Martz could even claim to be “Master of his own Domain” was just before kick-off of Super Bowl XXXVI in February of 2002.  Since then, Martz’s offensive mojo has been lacking and his decision making has been regarded as downright putrid.

By Peter Christian

The road that brought Martz to the Chicago Bears Offensive Coordinator post wasn’t paved in gold, Hell, it wasn’t even paved at all.

After being shown the door by 3 different NFL teams since February of 2005, he wasn’t exactly any team’s first choice as a new offensive coach. The Bears organization made the choice to bring in a pass happy coordinator to try and accommodate the team’s snafu from the year previous (uhhh, that would be Jay Cutler for the uninformed). The combo of Cutler and Martz actually increased expectations for the Bears, believe it or not, at least prior to training camp. The Bears organization and their fans should have leashed those expectations, however, because expecting a Martz offense to set the world afire in 2010 is like expecting a 11 year old Labrador Retriever to suddenly learn to roll over and play dead.

Dissecting Martz for a minute, his offenses have been very high risk/high reward and have the possibility to garner big results. The problem, and this goes back to 2001, is that he is his own worst enemy. He picks very inopportune moments to go for the jugular and even worse moments to play conservative (see: 2004 NFC Divisional round vs. Carolina; Martz’s Rams, at home, were down 3 and inside the red zone with a little less than a minute to play and one time out.

Instead of taking a shot at the end zone, Martz played for overtime and let the clock wind before kicking a FG to tie. The Rams went on to lose in double OT. Additionally, Martz doesn’t really change his ways, nor does he seem to want to.

In the NFL, change is a necessity. The majority of the coaches in the NFL are too smart (no really, they are) and too analytical to be fooled by the same thing for an extended period of time. Just as the league caught up with Martz’s offensive schemes, they also caught up to his tendencies and soon enough it became easy to sense what was coming from one of his offenses, whether it be the Rams, Lions, 49ers and now, Bears.

That inability (or unwillingness) to adapt or even regroup has been the downfall of Mike Martz.

He’s trying to run the same schemes that worked for his Rams in 1999 and 2001. He’s trying to mold the 2010 Chicago Bears into the 2001 St. Louis Rams (which had no less than 5 future offensive HOFers executing its plays) when he should be working with what he’s got.

Jay Cutler needs a watered down offense with easy reads. He needs an offense that hinges on very few pre-snap reads and even fewer post snap reads. Matt Forte, for all of the flash he showed his rookie year, is nowhere near the level Marshall Faulk was at in 1999-2001.

Most importantly, Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett, Devin Aromashodu and Devin Hester have nothing close to the talent and instincts that Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Az-Zahir Hakim and Ricky Proehl had.

The maraschino cherry on the proverbial ice cream sundae is that Martz is still hampered by the way he calls plays. He’s the same playcaller he was in 2001, which means that to prepare for a Mike Martz gameplan means one must simply dust off some old video tape.

This fact is evidenced by two major indicators: his offenses have steadily declined in production since 2004 and his winning percentage as a playcaller has decreased from .693 (1999-2003) to .371 (2004-present).

All of this historical perspective culminates with the job Martz is doing right now. Currently, the Bears offense is 4th worst in the NFL, only ahead of Carolina, Arizona and Seattle, and is the 6th worst scoring offense in the league. Both ranks are down from Ron Turner’s offense last year and Martz’s current yards per game stat is the worst its been since Martz has been an offensive coordinator or head coach. You can argue the Bears don’t have the talent that the 2001 Rams had, but the 2008 49ers?

the 2006-07 Lions?

You’re kidding me, right?

Three months ago, Mike Martz was supposedly the guy that was going to help Jay Cutler take the leap to be an elite NFL quarterback. Now it seems those lofty aspirations were more than just a bit silly, because like an old dog, Mike Martz can’t learn new tricks.

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