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Friday, January 15, 2010
The case for Martz in Chicago

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Let’s try to examine why Chicago hasn’t hired Mike Martz as its offensive coordinator -- and why I think it should.

Mike Martz
Mike Martz said he would be interested in becoming the Bears' next offensive coordinator, but not everyone thinks Martz would be a good fit.
First, why have the Bears publicized their interviews with Ken Zampese and Mike Tice, and acknowledged interest in Jeremy Bates and Tom Clements, while keeping silent on a conversation Martz had with coach Lovie Smith? My guess:

1. Martz clashed with a number of front office employees when he was St. Louis’ head coach and, fair or otherwise, has earned a reputation as a tough personality. Some of the stories that emanated from that experience, along with his quick tenures as offensive coordinator in Detroit and San Francisco, suggest he should be viewed with caution.

2. Their quarterback has demonstrated he is sensitive to change. I’m sure the Bears are taking into account Jay Cutler’s opinion and who might work best with him. Is Martz an ideal fit for Cutler? The Bears’ inaction makes their answer to that question pretty obvious.

But I think the Bears must recognize they won’t get a perfect solution given their unique situation. Smith has missed the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, and team president Ted Phillips isn’t likely to allow that streak to extend beyond four. Quite frankly, that dynamic will eliminate some coordinator candidates.

The Bears seemed to have recognized that by bringing in Zampese and Tice this week, suggesting they might split the job between two qualified position coaches. But when you need a quick fix -- there won’t be a 2011 for this staff in Chicago if 2010 doesn’t go better -- that arrangement seems riskier than Martz.

It would take an incredible amount of communication, synergy and cooperation for a two-headed offensive coordinator solution to work immediately.

Tice and Zampese, for example, have never worked together before. I don’t even know if they’ve met. They’re both excellent position coaches, and I’m not saying they couldn’t make it work. But it would take something the Bears don’t have: time.

If the Bears go with a traditional coordinator, however, should they really put their immediate future in the hands of someone who has never done the job before? Zampese and Tice both have some admirable attributes. Zampese is said to have a scholar’s handle on offensive schemes. Tice? I would love to see what would happen if Cutler smirked once in his direction. I think Tice has the people skills to, shall we say, quickly get Cutler’s support.

Again, this is far from an ideal scenario. But there’s little doubt Martz has a long history of implementing dynamic passing games. The Bears have devoted too many assets to Cutler to ignore that. Martz’s history, and his experience in quickly installing a scheme, might give the Bears their best chance at a quick fix.

That’s my argument. Feel free to post yours below.