When Mike Martz wasn't brought back to the Bears this offseason, reaction to the news (combined with the firing of one Jerry Angelo) could generally be described as a party. It meant that Jay Cutler would have to learn somewhat of a new system, at least it wouldn't be a system putting players that were going to be protecting Cutler into positions they couldn't handle.
In a bit of a "where are they now," Martz picked up a day job as an analyst for Fox, and yesterday, the folks over at ESPN Chicago asked him a few questions regarding his latest former team and how he looks at their coming 2012 campaign.
Why he left after two seasons with the Bears: I think it was just time for me to move on. My first year there I thought we got a lot done and were headed in the right direction. I think before (Jay Cutler and Matt Forte got hurt last season) we were 7-3 and I felt like if we weren't the best team in the NFC, one of the better teams. Things kind of unraveled there.
What does Cutler have to do to improve: He just has to continue to grow, like all good players. He's such a talent and he's got a commitment to this team and loves this team. I just think he'll continue to grow in that environment. They've done a very good job with him.
If of course by "Things kind of unraveled there" you meant "I called enough plays that put Cutler in an impossible position that he openly called me out and broke from the pocket and deciding he wasn't going to let me get in the way of his winning games, then he and Matt Forte got injured and the backups didn't get it done." Then sure, things kind of unraveled there.
That being said, to be fair, after the Detroit debacle (round one), Martz had to have realized that whatever he was calling before just wasn't getting the job done. So I'm sure more of Cutler's pocket "improvisation" was called than we realize, and maybe a quarterback with mobility, and using that mobility, is not something the offensive coordinator in Martz wasn't exactly comfortable with. We know what his system calls for - outstanding blockers, and a strong, accurate pocket passer. And the Bears have, well, the opposite of outstanding blockers and a quarterback that throws better on the run than most other quarterbacks.
Was Devin Hester miscast as a No. 1 receiver: I just think he was still learning the position to some extent, and I just believe using him inside is an excellent idea. I just think that we were just a little bit thin and used him in too many things, probably overused him. I think in some respects it confused him, trying to do too many things with him.
This is something that I think Martz and I agree on. Hester's not a guy that should be a primary receiver on a team, though he can be a good receiver. His route running and his hands are pretty good, even if he doesn't have the size, nor the leaping ability and tenacity of the similarly-sized Steve Smith. And with a guy that's as talented with the ball as Hester is (even if half of his running backwards turns into an error), it's almost criminal to not try to get the ball into his hands on offense. He just doesn't really fit as a top-flight, number one receiver on a good team. This year, I expect him to be a little more dangerous, particularly out of a slot in three and four man sets where his speed can be a real asset.
I'll leave you guys with this nugget. There may be a peppermint prize for the most creative joke.
What does Tice have to do in first year as OC? He's been around it for such a long time, he'll do just fine. He's very intelligent. He has a good grasp of how to change in the game. He understands when things have to change.