The Bears had quite the off-season the past two years with free agent acquisitions, trades, draft, depth chart changes, and offensive philosophy changes.
With all the acquisitions the Bears have made, there is not one front office move that is more interesting than the hiring of new offensive coordinator, Mike Martz.
Everyone thinks it's a smart move. Some analyst may point to Mike Martz ability as a QB evaluator andpassing mastermind.
My argument is that it's a huge mistake and a terrible calculated risk that may cost Lovie Smith's his head coaching job.
Let's look at the successes that Mike Martz enjoyed during his tenor in the NFL.
As far as I look back, I could trace Martz influential stats as far back as 1999 when he was the offensive coordinator for the Rams.
Before I start my analysis, let me lay out some interesting facts offensively at the teams he made coaching stops at.
1999 Total Yards First, Passing First, Rushing Fifth
2000 Total Yards First, Passing First, Rushing 17th
2001 Total Yards First, Passing First, Rushing Fifth
2002 Total Yards 13th, Passing Second, Rushing 30th
2003 Total Yards Ninth, Passing Third, Rushing 30th
2004 Total Yards Sixth, Passing Fifth, Rushing 25th
2005 Total Yards Ninth, Passing Fourth, Rushing 24th
2006 Total Yards 22nd, Passing Seventh, Rushing 32nd
2007 Total Yards 19th, Passing Seventh, Rushing 31st
2008 Total Yards 23th, Passing 13th, Rushing 27th
As you can see, Mike Martz accomplishments look pretty outstanding now doesn't it.
The most impressive thing anyone can easily point out is how he's consistently in the top 10 passing offense year in and year out besides his short time with the 49ers.
Here is where I have a issue with the Bears hiring of Mike Martz.
The Bears brought in RB Chester Taylor and run-blocking TE Brandon Manumaleuna to revamp their 29th rushing attack from being near bottom of the league.
The Bears already have a outstanding TE in Greg Olsen who had a very respectable 60 receptions for 612 yards and another TE in Desmond Clark who's best year was in 2006 under a running game offense.
If you look at the stats above, Martz best seasons as a coach was during his time with the Rams from 1999 to 2005.
The one thing the Bears had to realize was that the type of personnel that they currently have resembles nothing like the Rams that Martz coached.
The Rams list of personnel is as follows that have made a great contribution to Martz offensive scheme: Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Trent Green, Az-Zahir Hakim, Ricky Proehl, Trung Canidate, Mark Bulger, Steven Jackson, and Shaun McDonald.
If you notice, there is a pretty good list of outstanding QB's, RB's, and WR's on that list. The one thing that you should take from this argument is that there isn't a dominant TE listed. Not one. Even during his time with the Rams he didn't use his TE much.
The TE position should be important to the Bears as a weapon since Olsen have shown he has the undeniable ability to stretch the field and be a big weapon for Jay Cutler which he most definitely loves.
You guys don't believe me huh', lets look at the list of top TE's and their stats during Martz time with the Rams, Lions, and 49ers.
Note: The listed numbers after player name is (receptions-yards-TD's.)
1999 Roland Williams (25-226-6)
2000 Roland Williams (11-102-3)
2001 Ernie Conwell (38-431-4)
2002 Ernie Conwell (34-419-2)
2003 Brandon Manumaleuna (29-238-2)
2004 Brandon Manumaleuna (15-174-1)
2005 Brandon Manumaleuna (13-129-1)
2006 Dan Campbell (21-308-4)
2007 Sean McHugh (17-252-0)
2008 Vernon Davis (31-358-2)
This is a very startling stat.
People in the past argued before Martz went to the 49ers that he never had a TE in the past to work with and when he did get to the 49ers, Davis's stats look eerie similar to the past TE's stats that Martz worked with in the past.
After Martz left and the 49ers offense went to a running offense with play-action like plays that fit the offensive roster and HC philosophy, TE Davis had 78 receptions for 965 yards and 13 TD's.
So with this in mind, and considering Greg Olsen had nearly double and even triple the amount of stats in any of Martz time with any TE on any team, it's safe to say that Olsen's stats will greatly decrease.
The biggest and most dangerous player on that Bear's squad regarding passing the ball is Olsen and with Martzhistory of not using TE's effectively, who is going to be the other player to step up?
During Martz two coaching stops before coming to Chicago, he had decent proven WR's to work with.
In Detriot, Martz had a plethora of WR's to work with that GM Matt Millen gave him during his time there. He had Mike Furrey, Roy Williams, and Calvin Johnson to work with amongst other promising WR's.
During his short time with the 49ers, he at least had a familiar player to work with in Isaac Bruce and a promising Bryant Johnson.
Who does the Bears have play to Martz strengths at using WR's? Devin Hester? Earl Bennett? Johnny Knox? Devin Aromashodu?
In nearly all of Martz seasons as a head coach, both of his starting WR's average over 80+ catch seasons with over 1,000 yards for both WR's.
The problem I see is Devin Hester, who is the leading Bear WR only has 57 receptions last season.
Not even close to 80+ receptions. So you see my reason for concern here with the type of depth they have.
Lastly, the Bears don't have the greatest offensive line to be elite at passing the ball.
Martz worked with a great offensive line in St. Louis. His O-line was average at best with the Lions and 49ers.
The Bears have a decent enough line to pass block but the problem I see here is Martz offense relies a lot on seven step drops. Besides working with a great O-line with the Rams for so long, in Detroit and with the 49ers, Martz took a average line with his offense and help lead those two teams to the top three in the most sacks given up.
Something I could easily see occurring with the Bears O-line.
In conclusion, Mike Martz is a very controversial move by the Bears front office that may cost Lovie Smith his job.
There is no doubt that the Bears will be near the top 10 in passing but I strongly believe their run game will take a huge hit.
They were already bad at running the ball last season, it surely can't get any worse.
In my opinion, the Bears have a offensive roster that seems to me to be built to run.
They could really do damage much like the Chargers did with a running team back during Marty Schottenheimer's time there from 2002-2006.
The Chargers used a combination of a receiving TE (Gates,) a blocking TE (Manumaleuna,) and a third TE (Wilson and Chandler.)
Those TE's could easily be replaced by Olsen,Manumaleuna, and Clark to take over and run the same offense with players like Chester Taylor and Matt Forte to run the ball.
I just don't see why the Bears management didn't get a offensive coordinator that fits the Bears current roster.
If they knew Mike Martz was going to be their OC, why didn't they get players that fit his scheme instead of bringing in free agents that won't benefit greatly in Taylor and Manumaleuna?
The Bears didn't even bother to bolster their offense via free agent or through the draft to compliment Mike Martz scheme in such a deep draft.
Mike Martz was a mistake and I hope you can see why I believe he is a mistake considering the Bears and Lovie Smith are depending on him to deliver this season with not only Lovie Smith's head on the line, but also some of the management folks in the front office for making such aggressive off-season moves that may return to haunt them.