View from the Moon: What is Martz's Bears resume?

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View from the Moon: What is Martz's Bears resume?

Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010
Posted 9:07 AM Updated 10:54 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Mike Martz declaring himself open to consideration for head-coaching jobs in the future has some intriguing side stories to it. For one thing, it could ensure that he doesnt get one.

Expressions of interest in jobs are often best voiced over the phone, not over a podium. One lingering suspicion is that Ron Rivera hastened his ouster from the Bears with his active quest for a top job somewhere in the NFL. Nothing whatsoever wrong with that; but insiders have said that Lovie Smith tired of Chicos search pattern, thinking being that if youre not all in, then youre out.

And what kind of reference would Smith give Martz? Smith has repaid Martz for hiring him in St. Louis once upon a time. Martz gave Smith a coordinator job; Smith now has given Martz one, when offers werent exactly pouring in. All square.

Had several college coordinators not been moving too slowly through recruiting for the Bears needs, Martz is quite possibly not in his current billet.

If Smith has any slight whiff that Martz is using this job to get the next one, when indications were even as recent as training camp that Martz didnt aspire to head coaching again, the surprise will be if Smith takes that very well.

Bigger question: What is Martzs Bears resume? Organizations look not only for performance, but also for fit. Martzs Chicago offense was foundering before the off week, when sources tell CSNChicago.com that orders came from above Lovie Smith that there were going to be changes in Martzs design for the offense. Period. Martzs mesh with line coach Mike Tice has been very scratchy at times. The tilt of the offense toward more running and more balance tells you which of the Mikes prevailed in planning game planning.

Ironically, Jay Cutler has never been a better quarterback than he is right now. If Martz warrants blame for mistakes contributing to the three losses in four game a while back, then he also deserves enormous credit for keeping Cutlers head right in this growth spurt hes had from passer to quarterback. Tice didnt do that; Martz has.

All of which means that Martz is indeed every bit the enigma that he was a year and longer ago. The offense changed but how much of was his idea is something a prospective employer would like to know.

I think we all mature, he said, with an air of bemused self-assessment. I probably have matured later in life than a lot of guys. Maybe. Im not there yet.

But I think we all change and grow with different situations, probably. I think that as you get older, there are things that dont upset you or you react to as quickly as maybe you did early in your career.

No interest

By the way, if youre looking for a link to any video of feet, you wont find it here. Sorry; just not interested.

Flex-time?

If the Bears win Sunday, they will be a victory away from clinching the bye as the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, meaning a week off without a game against some pesky wild-card team. If the Green Bay Packers down the New York Giants, they get a step closer to the playoffs themselves.

That then makes the Sunday Jan. 2 Bears game in Green Bay suddenly very, very attractive and a prime candidate for flexing into the Sunday night slot. The NFL left that matchup TBD and Bears-Packers would be a gem, a game between classic rivals both with something huge at stake.

Flex-city.

Speaking up

Holiday time and a special thanks for Jason Goff (sitting in for Danny) and Matt Spiegel this morning for not talking about foot fetishes on our weekly visit on The Danny Mac Show on WSCR-AM 670 at 10 a.m.

What was wonderfully in the exact opposite direction was the interest in what kind of person Devin Hester really is, because Devins emotional moment at the podium last Monday night in Minnesota after the record-setting TD return was a side of a special athlete that we rarely see. A side of any athlete we rarely see, for that matter.

It was a good chance to talk about someone (Hester) who is generally one of the most enjoyable, pleasant people to talk with in a locker room, almost accommodating to a fault at times. And because hes not always the most eloquent speaker (right, like I am?) the unfair characterization develops where judgments are formed about how intelligent someone is.

In Hesters case that is even less important because of what people dont see, which is a guy thoroughly loved by teammates and has been since he got here as a second-round pick in 2006. Ive always felt that Hesters signature move as he finished scoring jaunts, the imitation of Deion Sanders one-hand-behind-the-head, long-striding finish, was never a showboat play by Hester as it was a thank-you to someone who was a mentor, friend, borderline father-figure to him. Showboats concoct their own look-at-mes. Hester never did that and I always thought that was very classy in its own subtle way.

Had to laugh when Spiegs and Jason mentioned talking that I should be chirping about my preseason assessment that the Bears would be 10-6 or better this season. Naaah. Like I told the guys, Im a Barry Sanders boy; when you score, flip the ball to the official and act like youve been there before and youll be back again.

Now, truth be told, I probably would lean toward a gesture or speech pattern or somesuch that would credit the individual who keyed me into some insights that prompted me to change the prediction from 8-8 to far better before the season started. But if I did that, youd know my source (I had inside information) and I never give up a source.

Well, ok, just this once...

The one who told me some things about this team and this season was...

Oh, wait, sorry, the editors are telling me to keep it short. Sorry. Gotta hop.

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: One-time starter Christian Jones willing to forge a new role in changing D

Bears: One-time starter Christian Jones willing to forge a new role in changing D

What’s wrong with this picture? Or maybe, what’s right?

Over the past two years, no Bear made more tackles than Christian Jones’ 196 – a total accomplished in spite of being shunted around in a death-spiraling 4-3 scheme under the Marc Trestman staff in 2014 and then moved inside as part of the John Fox/Vic Fangio 3-4 last season.

An undrafted free agent picked up by the Phil Emery regime out of Florida State, Jones also was third in special-teams tackles (11) in 2014 and contributed four last season along with four pass breakups and four quarterback pressures.

Then this offseason Jones could only watch as the Bears made replacing him (and Shea McClellin) a priority, signing inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan. And suddenly Jones finds himself in a battle for a roster spot. He even saw his number (59) taken to one of the new guys (Trevathan).

It is not often that teams put replacing one of their leading tacklers high on their offseason to-do lists. But there it was.

“You can’t really get surprised,” said Jones, still among the most upbeat players to be found anywhere on the roster. “It’s the NFL, and they brought in two good players, and that’s going to help the team, the defense. I was all in for that.

“So it’s taking my role and doing the best I can with that.”

The trouble is, that “role” is fluid.

[MORE: Bears now losing players to rampant stomach virus]

Coaches came to Jones early in the offseason and said they were moving him back to the outside. Fine. He was comfortable there before. Except that since the start of training camp, Jones has been something of a “Where’s Waldo?” character – inside, outside, try finding him.

If there’s an irony, it lies in the fact that not finding Jones a clear role sets him up as a piece of roster versatility that teams crave.

“We went and signed two inside linebackers in free agency and moved him to outside, and now we’ve kind of moved him back inside, so he’s kind of a hybrid,” said coach John Fox. “And sometimes you have to be that.

“There’s the old adage, ‘The more you can do… ,’ and there are a lot of those hybrid guys in different spots. It gives him an advantage, too, as far as offensive recognition.”

Fox and the Bears staff have placed a premium on attitude as well, and Jones has continued to be a factor on special teams, something not every three-year veteran and former starter embraces.

Jones thinks clearly: “You want to have a job,” he said, laughing. “That’s the main thing.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The bumping around between positions has not set Jones’ development back. Indeed, “I think it’s been somewhat smooth, and playing both, I’m getting a sense of the defense,” Jones said. “That helps a lot. It’s a good thing to know both spots because you never know with injuries, so in the long run it helps me and helps the team.”

When Jones was tasked with calling defensive signals in McClellin’s absence last season, it did not go overly well. Jones was benched by Fangio in Week 15 for inconsistency.

Indications are that something has changed. “I think there is a maturity difference, in my opinion,” Fox said.

Not enough injury woes? Bears now losing players to rampant stomach virus

Not enough injury woes? Bears now losing players to rampant stomach virus

John Fox could be excused for wondering if someone somewhere is sticking voodoo pins in a Bears doll. If it weren’t for bad luck, the 2016 Bears might have no luck at all. And now things have gotten worse, not better.

The Bears coach has overseen the M*A*S*H unit working to look like an NFL team while dealing with a sick bay situation that some days has made it seem easier to list the Bears who ARE practicing rather than the ones who aren’t.

Besides the injury tsunami that has beset them, the Bears this week are dealing with a flu/stomach virus that has hit as many as a dozen players, some more severely than others, and had one Bears higher-up facetiously (or maybe not) reaching for the Walter Payton Center door handle with his hand covered.

“We've got about six illnesses,” Fox said Wednesday, a list that included rookie cornerback Deiondre’ Hall, right tackle Bobby Massie and fullback Darrel Young for the first time.

Not all of practice was a study of absenteeism. Kicker Robbie Gould capped off Wednesday’s indoor session with a 57-yard field goal, consistent with his standing as one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history.

Gould has converted a respectable 83.2 percent of attempts in the wind tunnel known as Soldier Field. He has converted 90 percent of his kicks in NFL stadiums with either a dome or retractable roof.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Tight end Zach Miller and wide receiver Eddie Royal practiced again on Wednesday wearing don’t-hit-me red jerseys throughout practice, emblematic of their return from preseason concussions. They represent critical elements in the Bears’ passing offense, with Royal signed to put in place a steady veteran for three-receiver packages.

“We’re at a point now where we’re like, 'hey, we’ve got some time here with you guys; let’s get you guys back to 100 percent,’” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “We know what they can do on the field. It’s just a matter of us getting into game week and getting them back in the flow.”

How did Royal look coming back from his missed time? “Fresh,” Cutler said, smiling. “As he should be.”

Three Bears making strides with unfortunate opportunities from injury epidemic

Three Bears making strides with unfortunate opportunities from injury epidemic

Injuries will remain a swirling Bears story until the start of the regular season in Houston on Sept. 11, at which time the injuries will be separated from what coach John Fox termed “owies” on Tuesday. Players are trained to know the difference between pain (which you can play through) and injury (which you can sometimes worsen by playing on) and the next couple weeks, more than Saturday’s preseason game No. 3, will see all that play out.

In the meantime, however, projected roster decisions are being affected by what a handful of Bears are revealing about themselves in the vacuum created by injuries to front-liners.

These three do not automatically translate into changes at the top of the depth chart. Players lose jobs, not because of injury, but because their replacements play better than they were, and that hasn’t necessarily happened. But a team looking for quality depth is getting glimpses of some while starters are sidelined.

1.   Jeremy Langford/Ka’Deem Carey down, Jacquizz Rodgers rising.

Over the past couple weeks, the Bears’ running back committee has been expanding even as certain key figures have coped with injuries. Carey was put in the concussion protocol after a hit on special teams during the Denver game, and Langford was in a walking boot from a minor foot injury suffered in the New England game.

Rodgers, the senior member of the running-back committee, may have been an outsider in a roster squeeze, particularly after the drafting of Jordan Howard this offseason. But Rodgers has materialized with the No. 1 offense with increasing frequency, even with Carey back.

“You know 'Quizz was a big part of what we were doing early last year and then he got injured, he broke his arm,” said coach John Fox. “You know he's a real pro's pro as far as he approaches the game. He's a leader in that running-back room, you know he's a big contributor on 4th down as well as a guy who can go in and tote the rock. 

“But we didn't get a lot of looks at that last year and I've liked what I've seen this year.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

2. Grasu/Long down, Cornelius Edison rising.

First it was center Hroniss Grasu going down with a torn ACL. Over the past week it has been right guard Kyle Long sitting out with a worrisome shoulder injury. The first occasioned installing Ted Larsen, edged out at left guard by rookie Cody Whitehair, at center. The second sent Larsen to right guard and moved Cornelius Edison up into the center spot with the No. 1 offense.

Edison, who’d spent part of his rookie year on the Bears’ practice squad, went undrafted out of Portland State and was far from a player to watch when camp began, even mistakenly ID’d as a linebacker in team literature.

Not anymore. Long is expected back at some point and Larsen the presumptive starter at center. But Edison has earned time with the No. 1 offense and done enough with it to be a serious candidate to stick on a roster in need of interior insurance.

“[Edison] is athletic,” Fox said. “He doesn’t have quite the experience that Ted has but he’s a good young prospect and the more snaps he gets [the better]. He got quite a few snaps Thursday night in New England and I thought he performed pretty well.”

3. CB’s down, Kevin Peterson rising. 

Kyle Fuller required knee surgery a week ago. Bryce Callahan has been hobbled and held out of practice. Jacoby Glenn started at New England but went out with a concussion. All are favorites for roster spots, but their absences has allowed Peterson onto the field and into situations where he has played his way into position to surprise when final cutdowns are done.

An undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State, Peterson is an obvious prospect for practice squad. “He's been here all through the off-season and into training camp,” Fox said. “He hasn't had a lot of opportunity until we got nicked up at the [cornerback] position. So [the Kansas City game] will be a big opportunity for him as well as the final preseason game against Cleveland.”