New Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz said today in a wide-ranging interview on WSCR in Chicago that he has nothing but positive feelings toward quarterback Jay Cutler, and that he thinks Cutler’s reputation as a tough player to coach is incorrect.
“I didn’t see Jay as being difficult to deal with at all,” Martz said. “I think elite players all have that in them — a sense of wanting to be perfect, wanting everything to be right, and if it’s not right they get frustrated.”
Martz said Kurt Warner has the same perfectionist trait, and that in some ways Cutler even compares favorably to Warner.
“He’s got Kurt’s accuracy with a stronger arm,” Martz said of Cutler, whom he also described as “a terrific talent” and “well-schooled in the game and beyond his years.”
Martz said he felt a connection with Cutler when the two met before Martz took the job, and that he thinks a big challenge as the Bears’ offensive coordinator will be not doing anything to limit Cutler.
“You can’t put a fence around Jay and say, ‘This is what he is,’” Martz said. “There’s nothing that Jay can’t accomplish in the passing game.”
Martz, who mentioned that he was “very, very close” to joining the Bears’ staff in 1999, before he went to St. Louis, said that the Bears’ offensive players will have a big challenge ahead of them learning his thick playbook, and that they’ll need to put in the necessary study time.
“If they’re willing to learn it, they’ll learn it,” Martz said. “If they’re open to it and they don’t fight it they’ll learn it. But we’ll put more on them intellectually than has ever been put on them before.”
Martz said he had no problem with Mike Tice being hired as the offensive line coach before Martz was hired as the offensive coordinator, and said that he thinks the way Tice coaches the offensive line will fit in well with Martz’s offensive schemes.
“Mike is as good as it gets in the league in terms of an offensive line coach, and I think he was a terrific head coach,” Martz said. “He’s a brilliant guy.”
Although Devin Hester was the Bears’ No. 1 receiver in 2009, Martz indicated that Hester could see a reduced role in the passing game in 2010. Martz said he could see using Hester as the slot receiver, the way the Rams used Az Hakim, and Martz also hinted that Hester could see an increased role in the return game.
“Devin Hester in that role could just be stupid good, if that makes sense to you,” Martz said. “It would be very difficult for him to play every snap on offense and still play effectively on special teams.”
Tight end Greg Olsen led the Bears with 60 catches and eight receiving touchdowns in 2009, but Martz suggested that Olsen will need to focus primarily on blocking in 2010.
“All tight ends, their first responsibility, they have to put their
hand down on the line of scrimmage and be a successful blocker, and
then they move to receiving,” Martz said. “To just skip by that and say, ‘He’s a
terrific receiver,’ well, then you might as well just put another wide
receiver in there.”
Martz said he considers Lovie Smith and several other coaches on the staff good friends, and he expects them to have a lot of success together.
“This is a special situation,” Martz said. “That doesn’t come along very often.”