BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- There was a time that the words "Mike Martz Offense" evoked fear and respect, an image of speed and precision.
Last year, not so much.
And this week, it was not clear whether Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith was trying to spare his offensive coordinator from blame or spread the credit when he reprimanded one reporter who used the words "Mike" and "offense" too close together by reminding us, "It's a Chicago Bear offense. Let's get that down."
The confusion is fitting because for much of the season, the Martz/Bears offense wasn't sure exactly what it was -- a poor and outdated imitation of Martz's pass-heavy trademark system or a more efficient hybrid that harkened back to the grind-it-out style so dear to Chicago fans' hearts.