Behold the power of Mike Martz

Posted Aug. 03, 2011 @ 10:02 a.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

Bears head coach Lovie Smith isn't one to let emotions get the best of him. He appears serene on the sideline. He doesn't care to flash much of a temper, even when things aren't going well.

It's his style. He's pretty chilled out, as the kids like to say these days, and it makes those moments when something strikes a nerve even more noticeable.

One of the most recent comments to get lodged in his craw came at his first press conference of training camp, when a reporter asked him about Mike Martz's offense.

"It's a Chicago Bear offense," Smith said. "Let's get that down."

And there it is. Smith may not care for the idea that this offense belongs to the coordinator he hired 18 months ago, but he has himself and GM Jerry Angelo, who signs off on personnel decisions, to blame for creating that perception.

Smith had to rein in Martz last season when RB Matt Forté was being underutilized, but there's no denying Martz holds power other offensive coordinators in the league could only dream of.

He didn't like Caleb Hanie as Jay Cutler's top backup heading into last season, so the Bears gave him what he wanted and signed Todd Collins.

Bad things happened when Collins played last season, and it didn't go well with another one of Martz's hand-picked signings, TE Brandon Manumaleuna, who received a five-year deal from the Bears that included $5 million guaranteed.

Both players are out of work right now, and Hanie is the top backup to Cutler.

The Bears' fifth-round pick this year, QB Nathan Enderle, was a pick for Martz — he wanted a project QB to develop, and he liked Enderle.

There's no indication that Martz pushed for the Bears to trade TE Greg Olsen, but dealing him to the Panthers for a third-round pick last week was a sign that the Bears are committed long-term to Martz's offense, and not Olsen, a first-round pick in 2007. Martz likes to have his tight ends block, not catch, and Olsen was clearly a bad fit.

They replaced Olsen by signing a better fit for the Martz scheme, former Steelers TE Matt Spaeth. The Bears signed WR Roy Williams, too. He had his best seasons playing for Martz in Detroit from 2006-07 and his career has been in decline ever since Martz left the Lions and Williams was shipped to the Cowboys.

It's understandable that Martz holds sway. He's been to a Super Bowl as a head coach and he was the brain behind some of the most prolific offenses in league history during his time with the Rams. Martz hired Smith to be his defensive coordinator in St. Louis in '01 — they have a bond and Smith is very loyal to his friends.

But in his last four seasons as a coordinator, offenses led by Martz have ranked 30th (Chicago, 2010), 23rd (San Francisco, 2008), 19th (Detroit, 2007) and 22nd (Detroit, 2006).

Martz has earned and deserves respect, but maybe the Bears have given him too much.

Chicago's offense is his. Martz, Smith and Angelo made it that way.