CHICAGO — Three desperate men got together on Monday when the Chicago Bears hired Mike Martz as offensive coordinator. It just might be the move all three needed.
Martz needed someone to give him an opportunity to prove himself again in the NFL. Lovie Smith needed someone to construct a potent offense for the first time since he has been the Bears’ head coach. Jay Cutler needed a coach to put him on a winning track.
Let the experiment begin.
The Bears, who were put under a win-or-else mandate by team President Ted Phillips last month, made a bold move 27 days after firing Ron Turner and most of his offensive staff by bringing in the architect of “The Greatest Show on Turf.” Now, we’ll find out if he can direct “The Greatest Show on Soldier Field Sod” with Cutler, who he called the most gifted quarterback he’ll ever work with, remarkable praise from someone who was at the controls when a young Kurt Warner took the league by storm in St. Louis.
Martz and the Bears’ brain trust said all the right things from the get-go.
Martz described an “instant connection” with Cutler at a meeting Saturday in Nashville, Tenn.
Smith talked about the tedious process taking the Bears elsewhere before coming back to Martz. He was chosen over Vikings quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers.
General manager Jerry Angelo allayed concerns that he wasn’t on board with the move, reminding everyone it’s the most important decision the organization has made since Smith was hired in 2004. Remember, it was Martz’s offense Smith wanted then, a move that led him to Terry Shea.
Now, the Bears will get off the bus passing — deep — and Smith has the man with the original playbook.
For Martz, it’s an opportunity to reinvent himself after sitting out of the game for a season. Critics have said he can’t change. This is his chance to prove he can, and he knows he has to tailor his work to the roster. Cutler isn’t the same quarterback Warner was. Martz will need to play to his athletic strengths like Turner did when it was too late this past season.
Martz said the Bears’ stable of receivers can be a “real strength” of the team and said the matchups with Johnny Knox, Devin Aromashodu and Devin Hester could be “extreme.” Running back Matt Forte has some skill sets that should make him a good fit, and Martz raved about coach Mike Tice’s work with the line.
“Our roster is pretty well set,” Angelo said. “We don’t have the first two picks in the draft. Free agency potentially will be very limited. It’s not like we won’t look for players like we do every year, but we’re not going into this thinking we have to have an overhaul with our offense.”