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So far, nothing but praise between Cutler, Martz
BOURBONNAIS, ILL. (AP) - So far, it’s nothing but sweet talk.
Jay Cutler mentions an aura, the respect his new offensive coordinator commands when he walks into a room or steps on the field.
Mike Martz, meanwhile, can’t stop heaping praise on his quarterback and simply laughs at the notion that they won’t get along.
Whether they do could go a long way toward determining if the Chicago Bears get back to the playoffs after three straight misses and save coach Lovie Smith’s and general manager Jerry Angelo’s jobs. Coming off a 7-9 season, they’re operating under a win-now mandate from above and made several big changes during the offseason.
The biggest, of course, was signing Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers, but they didn’t leave the offense untouched.
“I don’t mean any disrespect, but if you knew how silly that was and how easy things are between he and I,” said Martz, who as an NFL Network analyst last year criticized Cutler. “I thoroughly enjoy his company, just enjoy being around him outside the football part of it too. He’s got a great sense of humor by the way. He’s a little screwed up in his sense of humor like I am, so we kind of fit pretty good I think.”
“With the young group we have, like us offensively, I don’t think there is any question he was going to get it,” he said.
The architect of the “Greatest Show on Turf” in St. Louis, Martz was hardly a surprise choice to replace Ron Turner. After all, he’s known for developing quarterbacks and he also happened to hire Smith as defensive coordinator when he was the Rams' head coach.
Warner threw for 4,353 yards and 41 touchdowns while starring alongside Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt on the 1999 team’s title run, when Dick Vermeil was the head coach and Martz was the offensive coordinator. The Rams also produced the first of a record three straight 500-point seasons.
The Rams continued to win with Martz as the head coach, going 56-36 in 5 1/2 seasons, but he became known for what many thought was arrogance. He also clashed with the front office before a messy exit.
Stints as offensive coordinator in Detroit and San Francisco didn’t end well even though he coaxed a 4,000-yard season out of the Lions’ Jon Kitna.
And on the NFL Network last year, Martz criticized Cutler’s postgame demeanor following a season-opening loss at Green Bay. A visit with Cutler in Nashville after interviewing at Halas Hall went a long way toward easing any ill feelings.
Now, it’s his job to get Cutler to cut down on the interceptions after throwing 26 last season _ the most by a Bears quarterback since Sid Luckman’s club record 31 in 1947 and the most in the NFL since Brett Favre’s 29 for Green Bay in 2005.
“Mike’s fun,” Cutler said. “It’s been fun getting to know him and being around him. He’s 24/7 football. There is no getting around that. Every once in a while he has a few jokes, he has a few stories. It hasn’t been a bad thing meeting with him a lot.”
“He has that Kurt Warner awareness, if you will,” Martz said. “He has such a keen sense of where everybody’s at. He sees everything, can diagnose it without even thinking about it, which allows him to excel with what we do. We keep trying to challenge him with a lot of new things, just try to keep pressing the envelope. And then when we get into the season, then we’ll come back and zero in each week. So we’re trying to get as many different concepts in with Jay as we possible can.”
He added Cutler has handled everything “remarkably well.”
“He has always tried to do everything just the way we’ve asked him to do it, and then when things do break down, the really great ones have a sense of just finding a guy,” Martz said. “He can do that. I think he’s been pretty remarkable so far. He’s everything that I had hoped that he would be absolutely.”
By Donald Lambro
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