Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What the Mike Martz hiring means to you

The mad scientist is back in the NFL.

The Chicago Bears hired Mike Martz as their offensive coordinator on Monday in the hopes of reviving a stagnant offense that was a huge disappointment in 2009.

Martz, best known as the offensive guru behind the St. Louis Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf" of the early part of the last decade, had been out of football last year. The move is particularly significant for fantasy owners because Martz, unlike some other first-time coordinators we see get hired from time to time, brings a signature offensive style to the table. Thus, we should have a good idea what to expect out of Bears skill players in 2010.

We all know what Martz accomplished with the Rams - a pass-heavy offense based on precision and timing that set league record books ablaze and made stars out of Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.

It'd be hard to expect the same acrobatics out of the Bears offense in 2010, so let's take a closer look at Martz's accomplishments as an offensive coordinator after his fallout in St. Louis. Martz spent 2006-07 as an assistant in Detroit, a team with a serious talent deficit. Still, he helped QB Jon Kitna twice pass for 4,000 yards in a season. He coached WR Roy Williams to his best pro season (1,310 yards, 7 TDs in 2006). He squeezed a career-high 61 catches and 520 receiving yards out of RB Kevin Jones that year. He made unheralded WRs Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey fantasy relevant (and they haven't been heard from since).

Sure, the Lions never became world-beaters under Martz's guidance, but he did get production out of players who've done little or nothing otherwise in their NFL careers. In Martz's next stop, in San Francisco in 2008, he helped seven players rack up more than 300 receiving yards. Again, there was no Super Bowl appearance for the 49ers and no records were set, but Martz's track record stayed intact.

So we know what to expect out of the Bears in 2010 under Martz: Jay Cutler will get back to being a 4,000-yard passer and throw more TDs. Matt Forte will continue to get a lot of pass-catching opportunities (although his rushing stats aren't likely to improve). And the Bears' young receivers - Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett, Devin Aromashodu - should all see spikes in their stats. There's more raw talent in the Windy City than at Martz's last two stops, and the mad scientist may be able to do some real damage this time.

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