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Martz's future with Bears unsettled

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted Dec. 02, 2011 @ 12:51 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

It remains unclear whether there is substance to the rumors linking Mike Martz to head-coaching vacancies in the college ranks.

Couple Martz's reputation for having a rather large ego with the sense that he would be an unlikely choice to run a college football program, and there are some who interpreted his decision this week to not confirm or deny rumors that he's interested in the openings at Arizona State and UCLA as an attempt to keep the guessing game going.

There also was a report this week that Martz, who is in the final year of his contract with the Bears, could be a candidate to be the next head coach of the Jaguars.

Martz turned down a one-year extension, which reportedly didn't include a salary increase, after last season. He has been slow to make adjustments in each of the past two seasons, sticking with his preferred style before eventually making the changes — which were pushed for by players and other coaches before Martz pulled the trigger — that have helped the offense improve. His future will be decided, in part, by how the offense performs the rest of the season.

The Bears' offense ranked 23rd in 2009, Ron Turner's final season as offensive coordinator and Jay Cutler's first in Chicago. The offense fell to 30th in the league last season in Martz's first year at the helm. It's currently ranked 16th. It didn't appear to be moving in the right direction with Caleb Hanie in at quarterback for the injured Cutler in Week 12, but, as Cutler, who is rehabbing his surgically repaired right thumb, recently admitted, his season might be over and Hanie could be under center the rest of the way.

Cutler has, at times, directed subtle, and not so subtle, criticism at Martz this season, but Cutler also has made it clear that he doesn't want to have to learn another new offense before next season. He played in three different systems in three years from 2008-10 and this is the first time he has had the same coordinator in back-to-back seasons in five years.

Head coach Lovie Smith is loyal to Martz, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't part ways with Martz after the season. The question that Cutler, Smith and GM Jerry Angelo have to ask themselves is, will there be a coach available that would be a better fit to run the Martz offense than Mike Martz?

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