Mike Martz to retire from coaching

Updated: January 17, 2012, 3:11 PM ET
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com

Former Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz resigned his post with the team on Jan. 3 and is now retiring from the coaching profession.

The NFL Network first reported the decision Monday. Then on Tuesday, Martz told the Chicago Sun-Times that "it's time."

A 20-year NFL coaching veteran, Martz -- who also served as coach of the St. Louis Rams -- directed Chicago's offense to a pair of mediocre seasons in which it ranked 24th in total offense in 2011 and 30th in 2010, culminating in the coach leaving the Bears over what team president Ted Phillips called "philosophical differences."

On the heels of an 8-8 season, Bears coach Lovie Smith called Martz's departure a mutual decision. But less than a year prior, the team reportedly offered Martz a one-year extension, which the coach declined. Martz expressed a desire to return to the Bears prior to the end of the 2011 season, but it appears he and Smith couldn't come to consensus as to the direction the offense should take next season.

Martz came under fire throughout his tenure for his play calling, which at times seemed too dependent on the pass. Martz's time in Chicago was further marred by protection issues along the offensive line in 2010, and injuries to quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte in 2011 that played a role in the club losing five of its last six after rolling to a 7-3 start.

During the 2011 season, reports surfaced linking Martz to multiple college openings. But at the time, sources believed Martz actually played a role in generating the speculation in an attempt to gain leverage with the Bears in a bid for a more lucrative extension with the club. Complicating the situation was the fact the team was in the midst of a five-game losing streak.

Sources said the situation became a distraction.

Martz did not return calls seeking comment.

Eventually, the team promoted offensive line coach Mike Tice to offensive coordinator, leaving vacancies on the staff for an offensive line coach and passing game coordinator.

Martz, 60, landed his first collegiate job in 1974 at San Diego Mesa Community College before moving to the NFL in 1992 as an offensive assistant with the Los Angeles Rams. Prior to coming into the NFL, Martz worked for Santa Ana College, Fresno State, Pacific, Minnesota and Arizona State.

In 1999, Martz became the offensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams, helping the offense set NFL records as it gained the nickname "Greatest Show on Turf" on the way to winning Super Bowl XXXIV. Martz was named Football Digest's Offensive Coordinator of the Year and USA Today's NFC Assistant Coach of the Year.

From 1999-2001 with Martz directing the Rams' offense, quarterback Kurt Warner and running back Marshall Faulk won three consecutive Most Valuable Player awards. During that span, the Rams led the NFL in total yardage (20,177 yards) and scoring (1,569 points).

Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter