In this week's edition of Five Questions, PFW publisher and editor and Bears expert Hub Arkush says he thinks it's a given that Mike Martz will not be back with the Bears next season and wonders if there is a serious problem brewing between Martz and Jay Cutler.
1. Do you think the Bears are creating a disadvantage for themselves by leaving for London a few days later than the Buccaneers did?
Arkush: Honestly I have no idea. It troubles me that the Bucs, who are going to play in London for the second time in three seasons, chose to leave on Monday and spend the week there based on their experience of going late in the week last time and getting pounded by the Patriots — although they were an 0-6 team going into that game — and I really like how the 49ers have looked since Jim Harbaugh kept them in Ohio after the Bengals game in Week Three to get ready for the Eagles in Philly in Week Four. At the time I thought it was a mistake, but now it feels like he got in an extra week of training camp-style practices after the shortened preseason. That said, my sources tell me the Bears talked to some folks with the Pats and they said go as late as you can. The bottom line is I hate the whole idea of any teams having to go to London during season, but I guess that's a different question.
2. Does it matter if Jay Cutler directed an expletive toward Mike Martz Sunday night vs. the Vikings?
Arkush: No, it happens 100 times a game on the sidelines with NFL teams. It does matter if it's going on during the week or in the locker room when you're not in the heat of the action, but during a game it happens all the time. The real question is was that just Cutler being Cutler, or is there a problem with the quarterback-offensive coordinator relationship? If it's the latter, then the Bears have a very real problem they need to address immediately.
3. With Martz in the final year of his contract, do you get the sense that he and the Bears will go their separate ways after the season?
Arkush: I think that's a given. It hasn't been widely reported, but Martz apparently turned down a contract extension at the time Mike Tice was extended for two years. The bottom line is Martz is a prickly personality who doesn't seem to get along well with anyone, and the only success he's had with the Bears is when he's gone away from his system to a much more conservative one he's less comfortable with. The Bears' front office and Lovie Smith bear at least 50 percent of the responsibility for their lack of offensive success and probably a lot more than that for making no attempt to get him the athletes he needs to run his system, and Martz appears arrogant enough not to realize he is not nearly as highly respected around the league as he was four or five years ago. It will be a huge upset if he's back as the Bears' offensive coordinator in 2012.
4. Do you think offensive line coach Mike Tice would be a better coordinator for this year's team than Martz?
Arkush: No. It constantly puzzles me that as the coach of one of, if not the, worst offensive lines in the NFL, fans and media alike seem to want to honor Tice for what he's gotten out of poor talent — which by the way has been terrible offensive line play — and yet Martz is vilified as the problem with the offense even though he faces the exact same challenges as Tice. When you talk to coaches and scouts around the league who evaluate talent and systems, you'd be hard-pressed to find one who'd tell you Mike Tice is a "better offensive coach" than Mike Martz. He may be an easier guy to get along with — maybe — but he's not a better offensive mind.
5. Would the bye week be a good time to get a deal done with Matt Forté or should the Bears not cave to his request for an extension unless he lowers his asking price?
Arkush: There may be a bunch of different questions there. Yes, any day or week the Bears and Forté can get it done would be a good one because it's the only solution that will be positive for both. Of course, the Bears shouldn't just cave to Forté's asking price, but I'm not sure anyone knows what that number is and at no time has Forté or his agent made a take-it-or-leave-it demand. The problem at the moment is that while the Bears are correct — they shouldn't pay Adrian Peterson-, Chris Johnson- or even DeAngelo Williams-type money — their offer has been right around, some even suggest just below, what Frank Gore got and that offer is way too low. Forté should be right around where Maurice Jones-Drew is, which is about $17.5 million guaranteed and definitely below the silly money — $21 million guaranteed — Williams got. My understanding is the Bears' offer is around $13 million and that's actually insulting based on Forté's production. It's easy to see why he'd be upset.
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