Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz took a break from preparing to face the Packers' fifth-ranked defense to meet with the media Wednesday at Halas Hall. During his session with reporters, he touched on a wide range of topics, including rookie ORT J'Marcus Webb's improvement this season and the criticism of Jay Cutler's mechanics.
How far has J'Marcus Webb come this year and how important is he in the plan for protecting Jay Cutler on Sunday?
Martz: I don't know in 38 years of coaching if I've seen a player make this radical improvement in such a short time as he has. I'm very pleased with him. Obviously that means (offensive line coach) Mike Tice has done a great job with him. For a young man to come in like he has and deal with the pressure (of the) playoffs, big games, all these games at the end that are so meaningful for us and to continue to get better and have the poise that he's demonstrated has been really remarkable. I'm very pleased and proud of where he is.
If you're (Packers defensive coordinator) Dom Capers, do you look at a rookie like him and try to scheme ways to target that potential weakness?
Martz: I think everybody is going to try to take a look at that to see if you can make him hesitant with certain things. I think that's automatic for any young player. It's certainly no different for him, but that's what is so remarkable about him. Early, he made the normal rookie mistakes. He was a little bit indecisive and hurt just a little bit, and he's gotten past that. He's playing like a veteran right now. That indecisiveness, those kinds of things, he's gotten through that. He's fought through that. He's not intimidated and doesn't back off from anything and I'm really pleased with that.
Jay Cutler's mechanics have been criticized by analysts and ex-players. How much of that is fair?
Martz: I think some of the footwork (criticism) — and he knows that — is fair. You can't go through a lifetime with those kinds of habits and just fix them in one season. He's gotten better every week, like we've asked our players to do. I think he's much better than he was earlier. He knows that, but you have to temper that a little bit too. He's making some really outstanding plays and we're making more plays each week than we did the previous week, and he does. The decision making, the timing of the throws, the accuracy — there are a lot of things involved with that. We do the footwork stuff every week twice a week for about 20 minutes with him. He's grooved in there pretty good. As we add new things, he has a tendency to drift a little bit, but I'm very pleased with his progress. To say that you can go out and your footwork is not good and we'll do a couple drills and we'll fix it — it doesn't work like that. He's had a whole career of that 'running around and trying to make something happen' mode. That's a hard habit to break, but he's working at it diligently with all kinds of hot protections and different protections that he has to deal with mentally and it's hard to (get in a groove) when you have so much going on mentally. I like his progress. He'll get there.