Reading between the lines, it's clear the future of offensive coordinator Mike Martz is a tender topic in the Bears' front office as this lost season winds down.
Twice in the last week, head coach Lovie Smith has avoided the question of whether Martz will return for a third season as the Bears' offensive playcaller, with him storming off in frustration at the most recent question.
“Why would you ask that?” Smith snapped back at a reporter this week when he was posed the question.
All that response did was reinforce the question's relevance.
If Martz's future with the organization wasn't a touchy subject, why would Smith, an otherwise calm-demeanored man, rush off in disgust?
Martz's contract expires at this season's end. Despite rumblings of his scheming to get a top college job, or even rumors of him bolting to another NFL team, it's likely that the only job offer Martz may get this offseason could be from his most recent employer.
Martz just hasn't shown enough in two seasons with Jay Cutler to warrant an outside promotion.
That leaves his future in the hands of Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo.
And if talk of another spend-now, win-now approach this offseason by Angelo and Co. is true, the Bears have no choice in the matter—they have to bring back Martz.
Not doing so would give Cutler his third offensive coordinator in four seasons with the Bears, and his fourth coordinator in his last five seasons in the NFL, counting his last season with Denver.
Remember what Cutler said just weeks ago?
“If you look at the offenses around the league that are really good—Green Bay, the Patriots, the Saints—there is consistency there," Cutler said in early December. "They've been in the same system. They've had the same offensive coordinator. … You can't keep doing different offensive coordinators left and right. It's hard on quarterbacks and it's hard on everyone to learn that kind of stuff.”
That's right: it's hard on the quarterback and it's hard on the rest of the unit as well.
Bringing a new play-caller in equates to a learning curve, and in a division that possibly boasts the next dynasty in the Green Bay Packers and a new perennial division contender in the Detroit Lions, there's no time for regrouping. Not when your defensive studs—your team's centerpieces—are all approaching their mid-30s.
And you can forget any seamless transition in promoting offensive line coach Mike Tice to the coordinator spot—any move from Martz's complicated playbook, even in-house, is a whole new way of doing things. That's how unique Martz's system is.
Here's the solution, Mr. Angelo: a one-year deal with Mr. Martz. Bring him back for one more year.
Nevermind Cutler's in-game profanity toward Martz that was heard around the world, and remember the Bears' improved play on offense before Cutler and Matt Forte went down for the year.
Nevermind that Martz isn't Angelo's guy, and consider that adding two legitimate, starting offensive lineman and a potentially dominant physical force at wide receiver could take this offense another level up.
There's no time for a scheme change in Chicago.
There is time for another run, whether it lasts one more year or two more years.
Just don't ask Lovie Smith about it.