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Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Bears, Mike Martz parting ways

By Michael C. Wright and Jeff Dickerson
ESPNChicago.com

The Chicago Bears announced Tuesday that offensive coordinator Mike Martz and quarterbacks coach Shane Day will not return next season.

Martz It's a real difference of philosophy.

-- Mike Martz

That news came hours after the team announced that general manager Jerry Angelo was being relieved of his duties.

Team president Ted Phillips said Tuesday that Martz's dismissal was coach Lovie Smith's decision.

"He decided today. That was Lovie's decision," Phillips said. "He's always had the decision making authority on his coaching staff and that's going to stay the same way."

He added: "Lovie met with Mike, they had some philosophical differences and a parting of the ways. That's the way to put it."

The changes come after the Bears finished 8-8 following a collapse marked by season-ending injuries to quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte, along with the arrest of backup receiver Sam Hurd on federal drug charges.

Chicago dropped five in a row following a 7-3 start before closing out the season with a win at Minnesota.

"It's a real difference of philosophy," Martz, who had an expiring contract, told ESPN 1000's "The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show" off the air. When asked if he would like to join the show on the air, he said: "The less I say the quicker we can move on."

Smith, who survived the front-office shake-up, thanked Martz in a statement.

"After meeting with Mike this afternoon, we both felt it was best to move in different directions," Smith said. "I appreciate the job he and Shane did for us over the last two years."

Martz hadn't directed a top-10 offense since 2004 in St. Louis. The Bears finished ninth in the league in rushing (2,015 yards), generating their best numbers in that category since 2005 while marking just the second time the team eclipsed 2,000 yards on the ground since 1990. And Forte missed the last four games after sustaining a knee injury early in Week 13.

The offense accomplished that feat despite using six combinations of starters on the offensive line, and three different starters at running back.

Bears receivers Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and Roy Williams campaigned for Martz's return after the team's season-ending win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Cutler, whose season-ending injury coincided with the five-game skid, had said he didn't want to have to learn a new system for the third time since joining the Bears in 2009. Ron Turner preceded Martz.

Meanwhile, Martz's name was linked to head-coaching openings at UCLA and Arizona State, as well as the Jacksonville Jaguars, and just last week Smith snapped when he was asked about his offensive coordinator's future.

He fired back, "What kind of question is that anyway? At this time, what kind of question is that? Why would you ask a question like that anyway?"

He was also noncommittal when asked about his coordinator's status on Monday.

Martz, who hired Smith as his defensive coordinator when he was the coach in St. Louis, said he would like to be back, but that's not happening. Now, Smith is looking for his fourth offensive coordinator as he prepares for his ninth season.

Offensive line coach Mike Tice would seem the most logical candidate to replace Martz at this point because he shares Smith's run-first offensive philosophy. But as of Tuesday afternoon, Tice hadn't met with the organization to discuss replacing Martz, according to a source. The source said that if Tice isn't seriously considered for the opening, some inside the building will campaign for a look at Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dirk Koetter, whose contract is up.

Koetter has worked as Jacksonville's offensive coordinator since 2007, and has also served as the head coach at Boise State (1998-2000) and Arizona State (2001-2006), where he built a reputation as an innovative offensive mind.

Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen is another likely candidate because of his ties to Smith. Christensen, who has directed the Colts offense since 2009, worked in Tampa Bay where Smith was linebackers coach from 1996-2000.

Day, meanwhile, was hired as the quarterbacks coach in February 2010, after spending the previous three seasons as the quality control coach of the San Francisco 49ers, where he had worked with Martz.

Michael C. Wright and Jeff Dickerson cover the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.