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Mike Martz Is The Bears' New Offensive Coordinator

The Bears have hired Mike Martz as their new offensive coordinator. Is this a good move?

Martz has become somewhat of a punchline after two failed one-year stints as the offensive coordinator for the 49ers and the Lions. That fueled his paranoia, and he believed that he was being blackballed. But before that he was the offensive coordinator and/or head coach who led the Rams to two separate Super Bowls, and to the best record in the NFC in another. He created the Greatest Show on Turf. He's someone who has succeed at the highest level, and apparently has something to prove.

And he has the chance to turn around the Pro Bowl career of QB Jay Cutler. While Cutler didn't play anywhere near as good as QB Brett Favre or QB Aaron Rodgers in the division last year, Cutler outplayed both of them during the 2008 season. It's hardly an impossible task to return a young quarterback to a Pro Bowl level.

But there are several good reasons why this is a bad move for the Bears. While firing Ron Turner was a good move, their month long search for an offensive coordinator became a sideshow with Martz becoming Plan F (after Plans A through E thought better of it). Obviously no one hired Martz last year either. And the Bears aren't exactly in the same situation as the Rams: playing their home games indoors on astroturf. 

The biggest problem with hiring Martz is that it might get Cutler killed. Every Packer fan remembers the RT Allen Barbre era early last season, coupled with a disastrous start at left tackle by Daryn Colledge, and Rodgers was on his way to setting a team record in sacks. The return of two quality veteran tackles (Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher) turned a bad situation into almost a strength. But the Bears don't have any quality tackles to turn to: only the dregs of LT Orlando Pace's career, and RT Chris Williams struggled last season. Over at Turf Show Times, they did not want Martz to return last season because he got their QBs killed, and Doug Farrar chronicled all the damage over at Shutdown Corner:

Add in the five-wide sets, and the total of four-or-more was 28 percent, and no other team went above 20. Why? Because with that many receivers, you're taking blocking backs and tight ends out of the equation. Add in Martz's propensity for seven-step-drop plays in which the quarterback has to wait that extra split second for routes to develop, and you'll understand why Kitna was sacked another 51 times in 2007.

Basically Martz is running a spread offense. While that scheme is more dominant in college than the pros, the Patriots are essentially running a spread offense and they put up big numbers last season. But QB Tom Brady is often getting rid of the ball quick to WR Wes Welker, which helps him avoid the rush and hopefully slows it down if they know they won't get to Brady in time. But Martz employs the spread offense and the seven-step-drop, which leads to a battered and bruised QB.

Not only do sacks stall the offense, but the drop off from Cutler to his backup is a huge drop. Risking an injury to Cutler just isn't worth it, no matter how poorly he played last season.

In the end, I just don't see Martz succeeding in Chicago. At times, their offense may look brilliant when Cutler's receivers are getting open. But it's inevitable that the pressure will get to Cutler, and lead to either a drive killing sack or a forced INT.

Or is hiring Martz a risk worth taking for a struggling franchise?