Blog Entry

Faulk: Martz will make Bears' offense great

Posted on: February 2, 2010 9:44 pm

Marshall Faulk knows a thing or two about Mike Martz and his offense. After all, he was easily the most productive running back in Martz's coaching history.

Currently an analyst for NFL Network, Faulk sees Martz as a boon for the Bears, who hired Martz this week to coordinate their offense. Following five seasons of mostly uncreative, vanilla play calling from coordinator Ron Turner, Martz is expected to turn up the juice and give Jay Cutler a shot at maximizing his potential.

If Cutler lets him, Faulk says.

"This will be the first time that Jay Cutler will not have control of the decisions that he wants to make," Faulk said Tuesday from Super Bowl XLIV Media Day. "It will be a challenge to Jay. ... Mike will test his football knowledge. He'll test his willingness to want to get better in the NFL. He'll ask him to do some things that Jay might not feel comfortable with."

Faulk recognizes that Cutler's gunslinger tendencies don't mesh with Martz's offense, which is based on anticipation and putting a ball where a receiver is going to be. But it's something that can be taught, Faulk says. 

"He's a see-it throw-it guy, and when you have a talent that a guy like that has, you sometimes don't rely on your instinct to guide you," Faulk said of Cutler. "That's the part of the game that makes Brett Favre special -- Favre has that arm but he'll throw a ball into a window and wait for the guy to come there instead of throwing the ball after you see the guy because it's too late sometimes.

"Mike will ask him to be an anticipator. And Jay will struggle with it at the beginning but hopefully he'll look at Mike's resume, he'll watch film of Kurt and Marc and Trent Green and he'll [notice]. And it will even be harder with him because he kind of started to do that at the beginning of the year and he threw some picks. Hopefully Mike can get him to move forward beyond that and just accept what it is and to get him to be more responsible with the football."

As you might expect, Faulk's focus is at running back where Matt Forte inherits Martz. While Faulk is a staunch supporter of Martz -- "I'm biased," he said -- he's clearly the only NFL rusher that Martz has had incredible success with. With Martz in Detroit, Kevin Jones posted career-best totals but still never rushed for even 700 yards in a season. And in a 2008 campaign with the 49ers, Frank Gore had his worst season as a starter under Martz's tutelage. There were times in each of Martz's last two stops where he'd call games and seemingly forget the running back.

Forte was a major disappointment in 2009 in spite of totaling 1,400 yards -- a big part of his failure was not getting in the end zone much -- but Faulk thinks Forte will "love" Martz.

"[He needs to] understand and come to grips with the fact that a screen pass or a check-down is just like getting a handoff and breaking the line of scrimmage," Faulk said of Forte. "If you can fix that in your head and not expect to get 30 carries a game, then you can play and play well in Mike's offense."

But the real wild card in the offensive mix in Chicago is at tight end, according to Faulk. Greg Olsen, who had career-best stats in his first season with Cutler, might be the biggest benefactor of all from Martz's playbook. Faulk says Olsen "will be the best tight end that he's ever had."

"Getting a tight end involved, what you're able to do with a running back that can catch the ball and a tight end in that offense, it will be tremendous. It will be hard to stop. ... That combination inside will be tough to defend and it will really open up things on the outside. The Bears might not need a receiver [in the draft]."

But in outlining Martz's offense, Faulk says it all comes back to the quarterback, which is probably a big reason why Martz met with Cutler before the job was officially his. Martz claims he and Cutler had an "instant connection" upon meeting, and Faulk says that it will have to last if this football tandem will work properly.

"If the quarterback can call it and learn it, everybody else can call it and learn it because he has more on his plate than anybody else," Faulk said of Martz's playbook. "Everything is based on the quarterback. They're going to run what Cutler can handle; the offensive line coach, it will be on him to make sure they get the protections, the running backs -- protections and run plays, and the receivers coach will be pressed to make sure his guys are, what Mike likes to call 'in the right place at the right time.' In that offense, the quarterback is rarely wrong. Don't fool the quarterback -- he's expecting you to be at a certain spot. That ball will be thrown there. You have to be there. So the learning curve is based on Cutler and what his abilities are. He's a Vanderbilt guy, he should be able to digest it in a week."

After a year of great expectations gone wrong in Chicago, Faulk predicts a big turnaround -- at least offensively -- because of Martz. And he can back it up.

"I think this is a great move for Mike, going to Chicago," Faulk said. "He understands this may be the last chance for him to prove to people that he can get it done, which doesn't make sense because everywhere that he's been the offense has done well."


Since: Jan 8, 2007
Posted on: February 3, 2010 8:02 pm

Faulk: Martz will make Bears' offense great

That Faulk is one of the most intelligent NFL players in recent memory is common knowledge, but Marshall himself may forget that the principle reason for the Rams' success was the trade that brought him from Indianapolis. Before Faulk, the Rams did not have the type of locker room leadership or talent at his position. Determined in his first year to prove that the Colts had made a mistake, the combination of intelligence and athletic ability he brought to the team is the real explanation for the Rams' success that year. Of course the system Martz introduced, with constant presnap adjustments, shifts, audibles and quick-passing caught people off-guard, but Faulk, who is not always this humble, has somehow overlooked his own role in their success. If he joined Martz's staff he might be able to help, but Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis are among the few comparable players in terms of atheltic ability and understanding of the X's and O's to make a difference. Last time I checked, the Bears have no one of that caliber.

Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2010 2:36 pm

Faulk: Martz will make Bears' offense great

Warner was a HOF QB when Martz got there? Huh. I don't remember it that way. Because that's not the way it happened. Martz took three mediocre QBs (Warner, Green, and Bulger) and made them into stars. Yes they had awesome surrounding cast. But Torry Holt was an unknown and Marshall Faulk was completely underutilized when Martz arrived in St. Louis.

Cutler (hated as he is by many NFL fans) has more raw talent than any QB Martz has ever worked with. Can he draw that out of him? I don't know. I just know that Warner looked like crap warmed over his last season in St. Louis and his season in New York. Everyone forgets that. It wasn't until he had an unbelievable array of talent (Boldin, Fitz, Edge etc) around him in AZ did he rise again to the top. I'm a big Warner fan, but he LEARNED what he did from Mike Martz. Cutler can and needs to do the same.

I do agree with shibbykaiyai that I'm not buying the "TE Hype" until I see it. Martz is always claiming to use his TEs more than he then does.

But make no mistake. This offense, for better or worse, is Mike Martz's offense.....Lovie and everyone else knows it.

Since: Nov 7, 2008
Posted on: February 3, 2010 1:22 pm

Faulk: Martz will make Bears' offense great

Martz had a offense filled with gifted athletes (Faulk, Holt, Bruce, etc), a good logical head coach, a HOF QB (Cutler is not) and, most importantly, a good offensive line.   The offensive they ran was perfect for the team they had and where they played.  
That team doesn't exist in Chicago.  There isn't a Holt, a Bruce, Faulk, Warner, Pace (in his youth), etc.  We have no idea what we have at WR since Turner and Lovie "red shirted" Bennett in 08 and Iglesias and Armoshadu in 09.  Hester is not a #1 and never will be.  Forte is shying away from hits, the offensive line is porous and old and slow and our QB is best when he rolls out, which no one lets him do and Martz doesn't scheme that way anyway.  And, Martz doesn't use TE's (none in STL and he didnt use Davis in SF), which is the best receiver we have.  
So unless Martz changes philosophically on offense, it isn't going to work.  And in the end, as Lovie has said over and over, he is the head coach and he wants the offense to run, run, run.  Pass to set up the run, not the other way around and, with this offense, it isnt going to work.  Go west coast-ish like Philly so we can use Hester to run deep routes only and have the other WR's run short crossing patterns, throw to Forte more, and get a lineman or two from FA or trades so we can run the ball when we need to.  But Lovie won't have that, so it doesn't matter anyway.  

Since: Dec 29, 2006
Posted on: February 3, 2010 11:29 am

Is this a joke?

Plain and simple; Mike Martz will NOT make the Bears offense great. While MM is a creative offensive mind, the Bears are run by Lovie Smith, Jerry Angelo and the McCaskey family and THEY are stupid.  

MM is known for having a thick, complex playbook. The Bears' idiots DRAFTED idiots. These players couldn't learn Ron Turner's system. They will be confused and generally overmatched by MM's playbook. The Bears have 3 NFL caliber players; Lance Briggs, Jay Cutler & Alex Brown.

Greg Olsen is a wimp. I haven't seen him break a tackle since his rookie season. AND he can't catch. Matt Forte is SLOW. Devin Hester, Devin Aromashodu, Johnny Knox, Rashied Davis & Earl Bennett are a bunch of support players, and none are very good. Knox shows promise. Bennett failed to get on the field his entire (almost) rookie season. Hester is talented as a return man but he is NOT an NFL WR. Rashied Davis was an indoor league player and should go back (he can't catch.) Aromashodu has been cut by 3 NFL teams.

He went and got Cutler but Angelo screwed up BIG TIME by not bringing in an established WR (future HOF'ers Tori Holt, Marvin Harrison?) to help TRAIN UP the young guys and set an example for them to follow. Angelo failed to give Cutler a reliable, veteran target. Whenever a team drafts their FUTURE QB, early in the first round, the roundheads all talk about that team getting some weapons to surround the new QB.

Where were you Jerry Angelo? Saving money for the McCaskeys by not drafting in the first round, refusing to eat this pathetic coach's contract and, now, firing more coordinators and position coaches than you plan to hire. DO SOMETHING!

I like Cutler but I'm not looking forward to next season. That said, Martz will NOT be able to block for Cutler so it really doesn't matter who's calling the plays or who Cutler is throwing to. The O-line is awful and Cutler is going to be running for his life all season (again.)

Since: Dec 7, 2007
Posted on: February 3, 2010 2:58 am

Faulk: Martz will make Bears' offense great

Mike Martz was a very good o-coordinator until he became the Rams head coach.  He got conservative at times when that happened, witness the overtime playoff game against the Panthers in the 2003 playoffs.  If he has learned from that, he can be a very effective offensive mind again.  His players do seem to do better once they buy into the system.  He has an ability to coach up the skill positions.

The problem is will he keep his ego in check?  What happens if he thinks Lovie Smith is vulernable and decides he'll lobby for the HC position in Chicago?  Will the Bears get the good Martz or the ego-centric opportunist Martz?  For Chicago's sake, I hope you get the good one.

Since: Jan 23, 2008
Posted on: February 2, 2010 11:27 pm

Faulk: Martz will make Bears' offense great

Excellent article! I was extremely doubtful when I heard Mike Martz was coming to the Chicago Bears. Strangely more and more players under his tutelage have come forward and staked their claim for him. Such as Kurt Warner, Jon Kitna, and now Marshall Faulk. It seems as if Martz really can control an offense.

The biggest question is Jay Cutler. Jay Cutler got big headed last year and tried to manage the game with no help last season. This year is going to be different, Cutler must give up most of the power and succomb to Martz' style. Again, I've read that Martz has been fired because of his power trip. Honestly I can either see the Duo either working together in perfect unison or its going to be an absolute disaster. There won't be a median in my eyes. I love the fact that Faulk mentioned how Matt Forte and Greg Olsen were going to be used, because obviously Faulk has observed closely.

My only question is how is he going to utilize Devin Aromashodu, Johnny Knox, Devin Hester, and Joquin Iglesias? In a recent interview from Martz cleary stated, "Guys like Knox, Aromashodu, and Hester are like a diamond in the rough, you can't teach speed and I've got some great things coming for these guys. It's up to them as to whether they want to become the best they can be." That got me oh so excited!

I just hope we hire a Defensive coordinator to control this defensive unit and make them monsters of the midway again. Who can help the defense? Is there anyone in line?

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