The curious hiring of Mike Martz as Chicago Bears offensive coordinator just never seemed to mesh with head coach Lovie Smith's run-first philosophy nor did it match the personnel on the field.
Recognizing that, it was not surprising that Smith effectively fired Martz after the regular season, replacing him with former offensive line coach Mike Tice.
Sure, they didn't call it a "firing" per se, but that's truly what it amounted to. Martz was a stubborn coach who was slow to adjust two years in a row. At the bye week of the 2010 season, the Bears seemingly had to threaten bodily harm to their offensive coordinator to get him to enhance the protection scheme and run the football. But it took a record number of sacks that almost got QB Jay Cutler killed to get Martz to change, and even then he did so grudgingly.
To make matters worse, the same unbalanced offense reared its ugly head once again during the 2011 season and yet Martz was stubbornly clinging to his pass-happy approach.
In short, this guy doesn't seem to learn. He knows one thing, and it takes a village to get him to change.
Sill, in many ways, Martz is not that different than Smith. Both have philosophies they know and are unwilling to alter.
Remember when Ron Rivera was the Bears defensive coordinator but was put in his place by Smith because he wasn't a proponent of the Tampa-2 scheme and instead loved to blitz?
The only difference in that case is that Smith was (and still is) the boss, so he gets to make the rules.
Well, just like "Chico," Mad Mike is now gone, and I don't believe many Bears fans will miss him.
He had his days with the St. Louis Rams when he authored the highly successful "Greatest Show on Turf," but those days were such a long time ago and featured good players on a fast turf.
In Chicago—and actually everywhere he's been since the Rams—Martz has failed to recapture the glory of his previous success.
Martz's style gets his QBs hit an awful lot, and they depend on smart receivers who run solid routes and a good offensive line that can pass protect.
Martz had little of that here in Chicago. His scheme simply wasn't a good fit.
Now, for that you can pin some of the blame on former GM Jerry Angelo and Smith for hiring Martz without building the kind of team that his offensive style requires.
I mean, is it Martz's fault his philosophy depends on tools he wasn't given to work with?
Still, one has to figure that if something isn't working, one would want to do everything one can to get it working. Yet Martz just didn't seem all that willing to make the necessary adjustments.
Further, the Martz scheme wasn't fully taking advantage of Cutler's skills. Cutler is mobile, yet often was forced to stand in the pocket like a statue until he finally had enough and flipped the bird to his offensive coordinator and QB coach.
So, no more seven-step drops and hopefully a coordinator who will allow Cutler to audible when he sees an alignment he doesn't like or has a linebacker one-on-one with his receiver.
But no matter who coordinates this offense, the Bears need better players, simply put. They need a go-to wide receiver for Cutler to throw to and a line that can block for him effectively.
Another reason I am happy to see Martz go away is that Tice likes to throw the deep ball, something that has been lacking in the Bears arsenal.
Yes, he likes to run the ball and doesn't prefer a West Coast style of offense, but he does like the deep ball, so if the Bears can get a legitimate receiver then this is something the Bears can use to help stretch the defense.
Plus, Tice seems much more willing to utilize the tight end as a receiving option coming out of the backfield. Sure, he will leave a TE in to chip, but, unlike Martz, will also throw to him.
Still, this is a passing league, and the Bears had better find a way to improve the passing game. The only reservation I have with Tice is that he likes to come off the bus running the ball as much as Smith does.
While I may not be totally sold on Tice as offensive coordinator, I am sure of one thing: I am glad that Martz is gone.
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