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Martz favorite for Bears' job; Clements out
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/11/2010 5:28 PM | Updated: 1/11/2010 9:10 PM

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There's no denying that Mike Martz is a brilliant offensive mind, but that doesn't automatically make him the ideal offensive coordinator for the Bears, although he's considered one of the favorites to get the job.

With the Packers denying the Bears' request to interview their quarterbacks coach Tom Clements late Monday, Martz may be an even stronger candidate, but there are some concerns.

First, Martz's attitude toward running the ball is the same as most people's attitude about visiting the dentist - only as a last resort. Most offensive play-callers like to run the ball to set up the pass. Some, like Tom Moore in Indianapolis, can pass to set up the run, which is easy when you have Peyton Manning at quarterback.

Martz? He likes to pass to set up more passes.

The architect of "The Greatest Show on Turf," which was the explosive Rams passing attack from 1999-2005, Martz favors throwing the ball down the field -- way down the field. That often requires a seven-step drop by the quarterback and superior protection from the offensive line. The Bears often struggled to protect Jay Cutler on much shorter drops this season. Until that O-line is upgraded, seven-step drops are a luxury the Bears can't afford if they want to keep Cutler healthy.

Then there's the whole personality thing. Martz is arrogant in the same way that Bill Gates is wealthy. Most offensive and defensive staffs work together each week to come up with a game plan. But in his last job, as the 49ers' offensive coordinator in 2008, Martz's game plans were a solo effort.

That was just one of the reasons Mike Singletary dismissed him after he was named the 49ers' full-time head coach after a half-season as the interim, replacing fired Mike Nolan. Singletary also disagreed with Martz's reluctance to run the ball, even though running back Frank Gore was the team's best player.

Martz has been known to be overly critical of players, and he alienated 49ers quarterback Alex Smith and tight end Vernon Davis, who couldn't wait for him to leave town.

"Alex Smith couldn't stand him," according to a 49ers source. "Vernon Davis couldn't stand him."

Davis is a tremendous talent but a pain in the butt for coaches because he's prone to running the wrong routes and dropping some easy catches. But he caught 78 balls for 965 yards and tied for the NFL lead with 13 TD catches in 2009. Under Martz's "tutelage," Davis caught 31 passes for 358 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2008.

But Martz does have his fans, including Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman.

"I like Mike Martz," Aikman said Monday on "The Mully & Hanley Show" on WSCR-AM 670. "I know his heritage, his lineage within this offense. In talking with (quarterback) Jon Kitna a few years ago, when he was in Detroit, he said he learned more football in the two years under Mike Martz that he had learned in his entire career."