Mullin: Lions' QB Stanton not fond of Martz

Mullin: Lions' QB Stanton not fond of Martz

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
Posted: 8:20 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

A number of NFL quarterbacks -- Kurt Warner, Jon Kitna, maybe Jay Cutler -- have had the best years of their career with Mike Martz as their offensive coordinator.

For Detroit Lions quarterback Drew Stanton, announced as the starter Sunday vs. the Bears, the year with Martz sounds like just about his worst.

Before suffering a knee injury and going on IR before the season, Stanton labored (probably the word Stanton would choose as well) under Martz as a rookie in 2007 when Martz was Detroit's offensive coordinator. That Stanton is still in the NFL might be in spite of Martz rather than because of him, to hear Stanton tell it Wednesday to Tom Kowalski on MLive.com.

Martz reportedly changed Stanton's mechanics completely, frustrating both quarterback and coordinator

"That's behind me and I want to leave it back there," Stanton said, effectively damning with faint praise. "That was something that I had to go through and I grew up in the process. I'm stronger now because of it.

"Obviously with some of the stuff he was doing with my mechanics and what-not just wasn't natural for me."

Stanton isn't playing against Martz or a Martz scheme, which he pointed out. But as far as the Martz modifications that Stanton might have retained, Stanton was blunt: "Not a single one."

Pregame group hug, anyone? Probably not.

Martz hasn't left satisfied quarterbacks everywhere he's been but you'd also think Stanton might feel some level of appreciation. After all, Martz had a big hand in drafting him, second round, for a team headed by Rod Marinelli, a defensive coach, so Martz helped him to something of a payday.

And Martz isn't as negative toward Stanton as the kid is about him.

"Great competitor, smart guy," Martz said. "I know that he's a strong guy that when things break down, he can make plays with his feet. He did so in college; competitive. You watched him come back.

"The thing that impressed us in college was his ability to come back and make big plays to win big games. That's the job of a quarterback is to get that team in the end zone to win. He's got that about him. He's got that quality."

Strange comment

Not sure Mike Martz meant it this way, but comments the OC made Wednesday could be construed as citing himself as a chief reason why it has took about a half-season for the Bears to have a consistent stretch of quality offensive performances with Jay Cutler.

Cutler just put up the best single-game passer rating of his career, threw 4 TD passes without an interception, and was rewarded with an NFC offensive player of the week award. Martz, more than supportive ever since his hiring, gave his quarterback another pat on the head but did it in a fashion that ... well, you decide.

"When he is allowed to function, and do the discipline of what he does at that position, he has no idea how good he can really be," Martz said. "He's headed in that direction."

"When he is allowed to function." First blush sounds like a dig at the offensive line (coach Mike Tice?). But the offensive line has not been Cutler's biggest problem. Just musing here, but I'd put the offensive line at No. 3 behind Martz and Cutler himself as the ranking of things that have not allowed Cutler "to function."

As I noted in a previous entry here, at this point of 2009, Cutler had just thrown his third interception to a defensive lineman. Those were not the fault of Ron Turner or anyone else. If Cutler throws balls to giant men who are looking at him, no scheme or coordinator or offensive line is going to allow him to function. Period.

Or look at it this way:

Forget yardage totals for a moment. The 4-0 run in November is the first time the Bears have scored more than 21 points in three of four games with Cutler as their quarterback. Notably, the yardage totals bordered on the pedestrian: twice under 285 yards, and 360 and 349 in the other two.

The offense has had four straight games of 100-plus yards. That hadn't happened in the almost season-and-a-half behind Cutler.

The reality is that Martz stopped (since the off week when a change was made in game-planning input) asking a still-molten offensive line to do as many protections it can't execute. The group got Roberto Garza back at right guard, the line was allowed to smack defensive lines in the chops, and ...

Voila!

Cutler was allowed to function. Indirectly, or directly for that matter, it is Martz who has truly allowed Cutler to function -- as a quarterback, not just as a passer.

Ironically in the last four games the sack totals have gone up from 1-2-3-4 beginning with Buffalo. But the caliber of defenses also has increased, and Philadelphia's four sacks were all in the first half.

One more thing ...

While it is easy to blame Martz for retarding the growth of Cutler the Quarterback in some respects, it should also be noted to Martz's supreme credit that he has adjusted and may quietly be doing one of the better coaching jobs of his career.

That's right.

He doesn't have Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and the Turf Show in their primes, with an Orlando Pace in his prime and Adam Timmerman blocking for them. He's doing this with an offensive line that in fact has struggled through injuries and Nos. 1-2-3 wide receivers who began this season with on average 1.3 years of real experience, plus a tight end who wasn't sure if he fit with the new coordinator, and vice versa.

Martz arguably had to learn to accept what his players couldn't do rather than what they players could do. That's allowed them all, and him to function.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

In doing some post-season wrapping up of my Nerdy NFL Notebook as we begin turning the page to the 2017 season, part of it involves compiling where each team finished in big-picture team offensive and defensive categories: overall ranking (total yards), as well as team rushing and passing ranks on both sides of the ball.

So if the Bears wound up ranked 15th overall in total yards gained and allowed, they should've finished…oh, 8-8, right? It adds to the deception of some of the deeper issues that focus on a lack of playmakers, which tied into their inability to make plays when it matters most. In John Fox's 9-23 start, 18 of those games have been decided by six points or less. They've won just six of those games. 

Offensively, the Bears ranked higher in total offense than five playoff teams: Kansas City (20), Detroit (21), Miami (24), New York Giants (25) and Houston (29). They wound up 17th in rushing offense, better than four teams who advanced: Seattle (25), Green Bay (26), New York Giants (29) and Detroit (30). And their 14th-ranked passing offense ranked better than the Giants (17), Kansas City (19), Dallas (23), Miami (26), Houston (29).

On the other side of the ball, they'd be even better off before allowing 109 points over the final three losses. Their total defense ranked better than Detroit (18), Green Bay (22), Kansas City (24), Atlanta (25), Oakland (26) and Miami (29). After being gashed for 558 rushing yards the last three games, they fell to 27th in the NFL against the run (better than only 30th-ranked Miami). But the seventh-ranked pass defense, despite collecting a measly eight interceptions (among only 11 turnovers), was better than nine playoff teams: Miami (15), Pittsburgh (16), Kansas City (18), Detroit (19), the Giants (23), Oakland (24), Dallas (26), Atlanta (28) and Green Bay (31).

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

What do all the hollow numbers indicate? A lack of complementary, opportunistic football, playmakers on both sides of the ball, a minus-20 turnover ratio, and a lack of quality and continuity at the quarterback position — to name a few. All of those playoff teams have more impact players (or kept more of their impact players healthy) than the Bears in 2016.

While some of the numbers aren't that bad to look at, and some even raise an eyebrow, there's still a deep climb from the most significant numbers: 3-13.

Bears' best rookies will have another learning curve

Bears' best rookies will have another learning curve

There's a sense of irony and, to a certain degree, concern about what changes the Bears' coaching staff has undergone.

Think of the best of Ryan Pace's 2016 rookie class: Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, and Jordan Howard. They were brought along under the position group tutelage of outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt, offensive line coach Dave Magazu and running backs coach Stan Drayton. The latter was the first to depart, shortly after the season ended, to return to the collegiate ranks on Texas' new staff.

He's been replaced with former 49ers and Bills offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins (also serving as that position coach in Detroit, Buffalo, Arizona and Kansas City). Howard certainly adapted to the NFL game well, more than anyone expected, as the NFL's second-leading rusher. One would think Drayton played a part in that.

Longtime John Fox assistant Magazu was also let go after the season despite the impressive move of second-round pick Whitehair to center the week of the season opener after Josh Sitton was signed following his release by Green Bay. Whitehair was sold as a "quick study" following his selection out of Kansas State, where he was a four-year starter at three different positions (but not center).

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Like Howard, he wound up making the All-Rookie team, but whether he remains in the middle of the line or not, he'll be getting his orders now from Jeremiah Washburn.

Rounding out the trio of All-Rookie selections was Floyd, who was brought along by Hurtt. He impressed Fox enough to be kept around from Marc Trestman's staff, and moved from defensive line to outside linebackers.

That's where he assisted Willie Young in morphing to a foreign role, yet still managing 14 sacks over the last two seasons. The Bears have yet to name a replacement for Hurtt, who's joined the Seahawks in taking over one of their strengths in recent years, the defensive line.

These three were already good, and the jewels of last year's draft. But if they're to grow and ascend into impact contributors if and when this team becomes a regular playoff contender, it'll come from new faces, new voices in their respective classrooms and position groups.