Back on the offensive side of the ball, but the #2 Bear with the most to prove does his work from the sideline instead of the field as offensive coordinator Mike Martz makes his appearance on this list. One of the better offensive minds in the past 10 years that produced a Hall of Fame player in Marshall Faulk and future Hall of Famers in Kurt Warner and Orlando Pace, Martz was hired by the Bears after spending a year away from football.
There were questions on whether his style of offense would match a stadium like Soldier field that is known around the league for having the worst field conditions. There were also questions on whether the parts that were already in place in Chicago fit his system; specifically franchise Quarterback Jay Cutler who main strength is using his athleticism outside the pocket to make plays down the field. The week 1 game against the Lions showed what Martz was made of, but weeks 2 and 4 showed that he didn't have the offensive line to run his system in its entirety. The Giants defensive line put one of the worst beatings I have ever seen put on a QB; sacking Jay Cutler 9 times and making him leave the game with a concussion.
The Bye Week was the obvious turning point for Martz, who adjusted his scheme to where Cutler wasn't at too high of a risk. Gone was the consistent 7 step drop, which was substituted for quicker 3 to 5 step drops with short to intermediate routes and a heavy abundance of Matt Forte and Chester Taylor in the ground game. He also threw out the whole "throwing to a spot" to where Cutler was now picking and sticking the football to whoever was open. The adjustment played a big part in the Bears reaching the NFC Championship where they lost to division rival Green Bay Packers.
Going into year 2 of this offense, Martz will most likely be looking to get the Bears offense to that next step now that he has a complete familiarity with what his skill players can and can't do. He should expect a much improved Offensive Line this season, and another wide receiving target that can open things up for the existing skill players on the roster. Martz has much to prove this year, and that's whether he can stick to the identity of the offense that Coach Lovie Smith laid out to him in the bye week which is balance in the pass and ground game. Martz also has to prove he can call a successful game plan against Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers who pretty much have owned both Martz and Cutler since he arrived there. Martz should know that Green Bay stands in the way of any other NFC team trying to be a super bowl champion and in the meetings against Green Bay last year the defense wasn't the one holding the team back. Last but certainly not least, Mike needs to continue to get the best out of Cutler. He did a fine job last season adjusting his system to Cutler strengths, and now in year 2 he needs to have Cutler take that next step in his development. The Defense is expected to be a great unit again this year, but Martz can get this team over the top with a much improved offensive unit.