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Tag:Lovie Smith
Posted on: January 16, 2012 5:21 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 5:25 pm
 

Report: Mike Martz retires from coaching

Cutler reportedly didn't want Martz back in Chicago. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Mike Martz, the architect of the Greatest Show on Turf with the Rams in the early 2000s, has retired, NFL Network Jason La Canfora reported Monday. Martz served as Dick Vermeil's offensive coordinator when St. Louis won the Super Bowl in 2000, was elevated to head coach from 2000-2005, and spent five of the next six seasons as an offensive coordinator with the Lions (2006-07), 49ers (2008) and Bears (2010-11).

Martz's two-year stint in Chicago was a bumpy one; his offensive philosophy wasn't always shared by franchise quarterback Jay Cutler. And head coach Lovie Smith, who Martz had hired as the Rams defensive coordinator in 2001, was often viewed as Martz's enabler. Smith regularly rebuffed questions about Martz's future.

In late December, with the Bears' playoffs hopes dashed, Smith was asked if Martz, whose contract expires at the end of the 2011 season, would be back in 2012.

“What kind of question is that anyway, at this time?" Smith demanded at the time. "What kind of question is that? Why would you ask a question like that anyway?"

Six days later -- and a day after Smith was noncommittal on Martz's future -- Martz resigned for "philosophical differences." And today he retired from coaching.

The Bears promoted Mike Tice into Martz's old job. Tice had previously served as Chicago's offensive line coach and was the Vikings head coach from 2001-2005. Tice isn't considered the offensive mastermind that Martz was but might be by design. His biggest task should be to a) keep Cutler from taking hits and b) get Matt Forte the ball. You don't have to be a genius to know that. In fact, it probably helps if you aren't.

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Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:13 pm
 

Bears promote Mike Tice to offensive coordinator

By Will Brinson

The Bears recently decided to not invite offensive Mike Martz back for another season as offensive coordinator and announced on Friday the promotion offensive line coach (and former Vikings head coach) Mike Tice to the position.

Tice, entering his 16th season as an NFL coach, was hired as the offensive line coach before the 2010 season in Chicago. The Bears offensive line isn't exactly renown for their high-level of talent and for the early part of both 2010 and 2011, Jay Cutler spent the better part of the season on his back, ducking defenders who waltzed through the protection schemes in Chicago.

But Tice deserves credit for his adjustments, as the offensive line dramatically improved over the course of the season.

In telling news, the Bears pointed out in their press release that Tice "interviewed for the position with coach Lovie Smith on Thursday," indicating that Lovie's gig for the upcoming season is, in fact, safe.

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Tice's five years as Minnesota's coach indicate precisely what kind of difference we should expect to see from the Bears offense going forward: only once did the Vikings, even with Daunte Culpepper under center, rank in the top-10 in passing attempts. Twice they ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in rushing attempts, and in all but one of those years, the Bears ranked in the top 10 in yards per rushing attempt. (Certainly worth noting: Daunte Culppeper piled up some rushing yards as well.)

In other words, while Martz was pass-pass-pass and then pass again, Tice is likely to be run-run-run and run again. It should be a stark contrast, and if the Bears can improve the offensive line and keep Matt Forte in town, it could be a more productive offense as well, even as the NFL shifts to more pass-happy offenses.

Certainly Cutler, who reportedly didn't want Martz back in the first place, should be happier. Or at least healthier.

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 11:41 am
Edited on: January 5, 2012 3:49 pm
 

Report: Cutler didn't want Martz back in Chicago

Martz, Cutler

By Josh Katzowitz

This might not surprise you, especially considering Jay Cutler dropped an F-bomb on former Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz, but, according to the Chicago Tribune, Cutler met with coach Lovie Smith and said he was in favor of moving on without Martz.

Cutler apparently met with Smith to give his opinion before Smith and Martz met to officially part ways. Martz’s contract was up anyway, but considering Cutler (among others in the organization) didn’t want Martz around, it seemed unlikely Martz would return for another season.

"Obviously I would sure like to be back,” Martz said last month. “I think all of that stuff works out. This is going to be a great football team and I would like to be a part of it. We’ll just see how it works out."

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Though Cutler had a standout season in Martz’s system, Martz, earlier in the year, didn’t seem all that concerned about keeping Cutler protected by the offensive line. In fact, Cutler was asked in September if he could survive the year, and he hoarsely said, “I don’t know. I don’t know."

Martz also didn’t make friends with Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte by using him in such an inconsistent matter that it led Forte to say he thought the Bears didn’t believe he's an elite player. And Martz didn’t come off great when he blamed backup Caleb Hanie for an interception on a play that probably shouldn’t have been called for such an inexperienced player in the first place.

Now, Smith will have to hire his third offensive coordinator in four years, and hopefully, Cutler will give his seal of approval.

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Posted on: January 4, 2012 10:53 am
Edited on: January 4, 2012 1:54 pm
 

Report: Jeff Fisher has 'always wanted' Bears job

Jeff Fisher would reportedly be thrilled to land the Bears gig. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Jeff Fisher's the hottest name in coaching right now, likely getting his pick of open jobs around the NFL. But here's a spicy meatball: Fisher's top choice of NFL gigs isn't one that's open, as he reportedly has "always wanted" the Chicago Bears job.

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That's what Albert Breer of NFL Network reported on Tuesday night, and it's a bit of a stunner, though the connected dots do make some sense. For starters, Fisher was a Bear when he was in the NFL from 1981-1984. According to Breer, Fisher has "maintained a close relationship with ownership" since his playing time.

Additionally, Fisher's old offensive coordinator, the late Mike Heimerdinger, worked with current Bears quarterback in Denver ... where Cutler played only because Bud Adams forced the Titans to draft Vince Young over Cutler in 2006. (Also, re: Cutler; he played at Vanderbilt. Which is in Nashville. Which is where the Titans are. There's a connection here.)

Breer notes that Fisher is also "aware of the player Cutler has become" since leaving Denver. Ultimately, Cutler would satisfy Fisher's desire for a franchise quarterback at his next job. And the Bears defense is a pretty good building block to start with.

Just one problem: Lovie Smith's still coaching in Chicago. Despite firing their general manager, the Bears decided that Smith "will remain" as the coach of the organization. So there's no place for Fisher in Chicago right now, and Breer writes that it ultimately isn't something that's likely to happen, and the "more likely result" is Fisher landing with the Rams.

The Bears would need a significant swing in management -- a la Bill Polian -- in order to warrant that sort of drastic coaching change. But if the 2012 coaching carousel's taught us anything, it's that the unexpected is pretty normal and ruling anything out is foolish.

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 10:19 am
Edited on: January 3, 2012 2:20 pm
 

Bears fire GM Jerry Angelo, Lovie 'will remain'

Chicago has decided to move on from GM Jerry Angelo.(US PRESSWIRE)

By Will Brinson


Earlier in the year, there were rumors that Bears general manager Jerry Angelo might retire at the end of 2011. He laughed at those rumors then, but probably isn't laughing on Tuesday, as the Bears have relieved Angelo of his duties effectively immediately.

The team announced that news on Tuesday morning, confirming reports from Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune and Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times. The team later updated their press release to read that "Lovie Smith will remain."

A source tells CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman that the reason for making the move is simple: "the organization was growing stale."

Black Monday

The big question is how many people in the organization this will affect. Freeman heard that Lovie might be 'in a bit of trouble,' and even though Smith "will remain" he still can't feel completely safe within the organization, particularly since a new general manager isn't typically inclined to love a previous coach.

Smith received a two-year extension after last season, taking him through the 2013 season. The Bears also said that Lovie "will continue to evaluate his coaching staff," which means if he does stay, he'll see significant pressure as he heads into the "year before the lame-duck year" portion of his contract.

Meanwhile, one of the league's most scrutinized offensive coordinators, Mike Martz, has resigned for "philosophical differences" according to the Chicago Tribune's Dan Pompei. (Martz's contract expired Sunday so, technically, he didn't resign so much as say, "If you're planning on giving me a new deal just know that I ain't coming back. And that's doubly true if you were going to tell me to beat it.") On Monday, Smith was noncommittal about Martz's future with the team and now we know why. 

Two guys that should be happy with this news? Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. Cutler because the new offensive coordinator might be interested in fitting the scheme to his best player. And Forte because he could be more likely to get a new deal from the Bears under a new front office than he was from Angelo.

Angelo became Bears GM in 2001, fired Dick Jauron in 2003 and hired Lovie, who's 71-57 under Angelo (Angelo's teams were 95-81 overall) including one trip to the Super Bowl and a slew of dominant defenses.

But the Bears were exposed by injuries in 2011: when Jay Cutler and Matt Forte went down, it became clear that Chicago hadn't properly allocated assets to create depth on the offensive front. Chicago lost five of their last six games after a hot start had them in control of a wild-card spot and nipping at the undefeated Packers heels in the NFC North.

Angelo dealt with contract issues surrounding both Lance Briggs (twice now!) and Forte (the infamous "pay the man" debate) and doesn't exactly have a history of slam-dunking first-round picks. Pardon the list, but from 2001 to 2011 the Bears drafted the following players in the first round of the NFL Draft: David Terrell (8), Marc Colombo (29), Michael Hayes (14), Rex Grossman (22), Tommie Harris (14), Cedric Benson (4), Greg Olsen (31), Chris Williams (14) and Gabe Carimi (29).

Three times -- thrice! -- in that span, the Bears didn't have a first-round pick, although two of them were used to acquire quarterback Jay Cutler.

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Posted on: January 2, 2012 10:54 pm
 

Lovie Smith noncommital on Mike Martz's return

Will Lovie Smith bring Mike Martz back for another year in Chicago? (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

A week ago, Bears head coach Lovie Smith refused to answer questions about his offensive coordinator Mike Martz. During his end-of-season press conference Monday, Smith was again asked about Martz, who's two-year contract expired Sunday.

“I haven’t talked to the coaches, so I’m not going to talk to you about any of them right now, and I think you can understand that,” he said according to ESPNChicago.com. “Mike did a super job for us. He had a lot of injuries this year. I think you guys know how I feel about him. But this is a new year coming up, and we’ll see how that goes.”

Via the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs, Smith added that the Bears "did a lot of good things offensively. But right now we're evaluating everything. Mike's a part of that. Mike is a guy that's been around a few years. Got to have a chance to sit down with Mike to see exactly which way he wants to go and which way we want to go."

Biggs points out that the previous offensive coordinator under Smith, Ron Turner, was canned the day after the 2009 season.

Martz has indicated previously that he'd like to return, even though he and Jay Cutler haven't always seen eye to eye about the offensive philosophy -- one that, early in the season, saw many plays end with the team's franchise quarterback picking himself up off the ground after a sack.

The Jets' Brian Schottenheimer was one of the few offensive coordinators under more scrutiny this season than Martz. But his head coach and general manager couldn't come to his defense quickly enough during their Monday presser.

Smith was much less effusive. Maybe that means everything or perhaps it means nothing. After all, Smith stuck by Martz last season despite similar concerns about his play-calling.

Biggs writes that some Bears officials are concerned "Cutler, his receivers and the line would work in a system that emphasizes getting the ball out quickly, not relying on so many seven- and five-step drops," before noting that Chicago QBs have been sacked 105 times since Martz arrived in 2010.

The 49ers went to a quick-passing offense that relied on a solid running game and look how that turned our for them. Why can't the Bears be successful doing that? Cutler's much better than Alex Smith and a healthy Matt Forte is better than Frank Gore. Plus, as Smith said Monday, ‘We have to catch up to Green Bay."

In all likelihood, that ain't happening with Martz calling the plays.

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Posted on: December 28, 2011 9:00 pm
 

Lovie Smith refuses to answer query about Martz

Martz, Cutler

By Josh Katzowitz

With the Bears season nearing its end and with offensive coordinator Mike Martz in the final year of his contract, this question, put to coach Lovie Smith, seems awfully legit and somewhat obvious: So, are you bringing back Martz next season?

Thing is, Smith didn’t see it that way.

“What kind of question is that anyway, at this time?" Smith demanded, writes Rapid Reporter Gene Chamberlain. "What kind of question is that? Why would you ask a question like that anyway?"

Will Martz return?
Well, the reason why it was asked is fairly understandable, but sadly, Smith didn’t answer the question. When reporters asked Martz about the same subject, he was slightly more pleasant about answering the query.

"Obviously I would sure like to be back. I think all of that stuff works out," he said. "This is going to be a great football team and I would like to be a part of it. We’ll just see how it works out."

Martz hasn’t had the most pleasing of years. He and quarterback Jay Cutler made big news when Cutler fired a “F--- him” at Martz after he and his coach disagreed on a playcall. Martz also was criticized plenty when he seemed to forget about Matt Forte (who, ahem, made the Pro Bowl) by calling for passes on 52 of 63 total plays in a bad loss to the Saints early this season and by not designing plays to keep Cutler out of the arms of defenders (Cutler was asked in September if he could survive the year, and he hoarsely said, “I don’t know. I don’t know.”)

Martz also didn’t get much out of backup Caleb Hanie and then later blamed Hanie’s execution for a tough play-call that Martz probably had no business asking for in the first place.

While Martz is easy to criticize, the Bears offense hasn’t been THAT bad with him in charge. Chicago ranks 16th in the league in points and 20th in yards gained, which is certainly an improvement on last year when they were 21st and 30th, respectively, under Martz.

So, will he be back? Hopefully, Smith feels like answering that question next week when the season is over.

Also on Wednesday, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said he was impressed enough by Josh McCown’s appearance in his first start with the team last Sunday that he wouldn’t mind considering McCown as Cutler’s backup for next year.

“In Josh’s case, he came in here late,” Angelo told the team website, via the Chicago Tribune. “He did a real nice job. He did have a familiarity with the offense, so it wasn’t like he was brand new. He was new to us, but not new to the offense, and he showed that. We’ll have time to make that decision, and hopefully we’re going to see another good performance Sunday.”

The only other question, I guess, is whether Martz will be around next season to help make that decision.  Or as Smith would say, "Why would you even make that comment, anyway?!?"

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Posted on: December 23, 2011 12:24 pm
 

Barber 'expected' to sit, Kahlil Bell to start

Kahlil Bell's set to start Sunday. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Bears quarterback Josh McCown, making his first NFL start since 2007, won't be the only new face for Chicago against Green Bay on Christmas: running back Kahlil Bell is poised to get the starting nod as well, with Marion Barber expected to miss Sunday's matchup.

Barber, who averages just 3.7 yards per carry on the year, hasn't had the best few weeks: he piled up just 33 yards against the Seahawks in a Week 15 loss and though he went over the 100-yard mark against the Broncos, he famously ran out of bounds and fumbled in an overtime loss that caused Tebowmania to top out at a dull roar last week.

So maybe it's best that, according to the Chicago Tribune, Barber is "expected" to miss Saturday's game against the rival Packers. Going with a third-string running back doesn't appear to bother coach Lovie Smith either.

"There are bigger concerns I have, and Kahlil is not one of them," Smith said Thursday. "I vividly remember his first carry he had at Soldier Field. I see him every day in practice going against our No. 1 defense."

Bell's first carry was in 2009, when he ripped off a 72-yard run against the Eagles, a Bears record for the longest carry by a rookie.

"He can make you miss in the open field," Smith said. "He can run with power inside. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. I'm excited about the opportunity he has."

Bell's probably excited too -- Saturday will mark just his second career start, and since the Bears-Packers game is the only contest on Christmas, he's got a shot to make his mark in a big way. Over the past three weeks, Bell's seen 28 total carries and averaged five yards a pop on those carries.

Green Bay is above average in rush defense, but if Bell has a big day he'll give Chicago the best Christmas present of all: a chance to stay in the playoff hunt.


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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com