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Sunday, January 31, 2010
Bears face tough decision between Martz, Rogers

By JEFF DICKERSON

FT. LAUDERDALE -- NFL front office types are paid big bucks to make tough decisions. Well, it's time for the certain members of the Chicago Bears organization to earn their money, because choosing between Mike Martz and Kevin Rogers for the team's vacant offensive coordinator position is no easy task.

It's clear exactly what's at stake here: Lovie Smith must make the playoffs in 2010 to keep his job.
Kevin Rogers
Kevin Rogers served as the Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks coach in 2009.

But which potential coordinator gives Smith the best chance to win right away?

Conventional wisdom says Martz offers the highest odds of a quick turnaround because of the experience factor. The reviews on Rogers have been great from his former and current players, but he's never called plays during an NFL game. On the other hand, Martz has a wealth of experience running offenses in St. Louis, Detroit and San Francisco, not to mention a successful stint as Rams' head coach on his resume.

However, Martz has historically run a very pass-happy offense that values premiere pass protection from tackles and tight ends, while placing a somewhat lower priority on the run game. Do the Bears have the proper personnel to make that type of system work? There is nothing wrong with players being pushed outside of their comfort zone, but would that philosophy be asking too much from guys on the current roster? As my colleague Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun Times pointed out, Rogers is said to favor the West Coast style of offense, which would be much easier for everybody to run and learn during offseason workouts and training camp.

Then there's the topic of connecting with players on and off the field. Rogers is said to be very charismatic and would no doubt be a big hit in the locker room. But does it really matter how the players feel on the subject? After all, the Bears have missed the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, so one could argue the players have forfeited the right to make any noise about the hire. We all know Jay Cutler is involved in the process, and even though he had or possibly still has reservations about Martz, winning can cure all those problems.

This should not be about personalities. This should not be a popularity contest. This should not be about hiring old friends.

This should be about winning.

Smith doesn't have time to worry about the other stuff.