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A Little Martz Good for Cutler, Bears

Jay Cutler spent two forgettable years under offensive coordinator Mike Martz. That time is generally not remembered well by Bears fans, but new offensive coordinator Adam Gase's connection to Martz philosophies should be considered a good thing.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

There is usually little of interest that comes out of teams' minicamps. The no-contact, position drill camps are so limited, with no 11-on-11 drills, that there isn't much to be learned from them by fans or media.

So fans are left to rely on the press conferences, especially when there is a new coaching staff such as with Chicago this season.

Offensive coordinator Adam Gase met with the Chicago media for the first time last week since being hired onto John Fox's staff and gave the usual glowing assessment of working with Jay Cutler that every other coordinator has said. "It's great, he's great, everything's great, we're going to be sharing gelato and secrets at team-approved sleepovers."

Ideally it will end better than the others, when they aren't talking and ignoring one or the other on the sidelines. At least this time Cutler might not get another chance to start over.

Anyway, one thing Gase said about his offense installation did catch the eye of team observers.

From Moon Mullin at CSNChicago:

"He's worked with a couple different guys; the good thing is, he's heard a few things that I say," Gase said last weekend. "He'll look at me and kind of, 'That's a little Martz'ist right there'."

Now when people heard that they remembered the bad times: seven step drops, sacks, end arounds to Earl Bennett. But really, an argument is there that Cutler was playing his best football as a Bear under Martz.

From CBSSports:

The reason for the lower number under Martz is because Martz took freedom away from Cutler and asserted his control over his quarterback. Under Martz, Cutler couldn't audible at the line of scrimmage and his reads were more limited. In essence, Martz tried to simplify the game for Cutler.


That's not to say Cutler wasn't frustrated with the restraints placed upon him. Like all quarterbacks, Cutler wants freedom to operate within the system. But if his nine-year career has proven anything, it's that Cutler doesn't deserve that freedom. He's a very talented quarterback who, if not for his massive contract, would be sought after by more than a few teams that are currently deprived of a proper NFL quarterback.

Now the CBS articles claims Cutler's interception percentage dropped significantly under Martz but the numbers I used from his pro-football-reference page don't match that.

I am only going to look at the numbers of Cutler using Martz and Marc Trestman for the simple reasoning that he played nearly an identical number of games under each coach.

Under Martz, Cutler had a 3.1 percent interception rate, under Trestman he had 3.3 percent.

While this may seem negligible, he threw considerably more passes with Trestman 916 to 746 and that is in one fewer game under Martz (25 to 26). Percentages can be misleading because a straight comparison without considering the sample size skews the results. This means that in pure numbers Cutler was still ahead under Martz than under Trestman.

He was intercepted once every 32.4 passes attempted under Martz and every 30.5 passes under the latest regime. Under Trestman, Cutler attempted 35.2 passes per game and under Martz that number was 29.8. While five fewer attempts per game doesn't seem like much, it means that under Trestman, Cutler was likely to be intercepted once per game!

While there is little debating that the Martz era in Chicago ended up being a disaster, it did result in the team's last playoff appearance and postseason win. There are elements of the Martzfense that really did benefit Cutler. From's Kevin Patra:

The Martz reference likely wasn't about Gase implementing a plethora of no-help, seven-step drop, all-vertical plays. Rather it was a call back to the strict limitations that offense put on the quarterback, taking some of the decision-making out of the process. Since decision-making has been one of Cutler's biggest weaknesses, that could be a good thing.

Cutler's decision-making has long been one of his biggest issues, in fact Lester was writing about it way back in 2010! In Chicago Cutler has never come close to the heights he reached in Denver under Mike Shanahan, whose system uses half-field reads and limits what the QB processes.

According to Mullin, Gase has been talking with some of Cutler's former coaches to figure out what is wrong with his decision-making process.

Gase solicited insights from a number of Cutler's former coaches (who were not universally down on their sometimes-wayward quarterback, sources said), will curtail Cutler's options by way of audibles, for instance.

Gase served under Martz in Detroit (2006-07) and San Francisco (2008) and so I'm sure he's one of the guys that Gase has consulted. They have a mutual respect for one another.

Plus Martz has proven he knows how to coax a little performance out of Cutler.