I have no idea how the Jay Cutler-Mike Martz partnership will work-out, but I do know that it will be entertaining. There is a chance that Cutler could have 20+ interceptions, but still put up big numbers with the Bears. Remember, Mike Martz at his best, had Kurt Warner at QB. Warner was known for his big plays, but what created those big play opportunities was his ability to lure a defense up with quick, ball control throws. Teams were afraid to blitz the Rams because Warner's quick reads would make them pay. Can Cutler learn how to do that?
Matt Forte has many of the multi-dimensional skills that Marshall Faulk had, but make no mistake, he is not Marshall Faulk. The Bears have big play threats at WR with Devin Hester and Johnny Knox, but they are nowhere close to Isaac Bruce and Tory Holt. Greg Olsen is a receiving threat, but Martz has been known more for throws to his backs and WRs than his TEs.
Another issue is going to be the personal relationship between Martz and Cutler. Both guys have strong personalities. As a television commentator, Martz was critical of Cutler last season. Both men have said that all of that is behind them. The relationship will start fine, but this is an extremely important season for Cutler, Martz, and head coach Lovie Smith. There is so much on the line for all of them. Would a slow start or a few early interceptions lead to problems? The Bears have no choice but to stick with Cutler, the same is not true for Martz and Smith.
The other issue is the relationship between Martz and Smith. Lovie Smith is a defensive minded coach, and Chicago is a tough town for throwing the ball. Wind is the biggest enemy for the passing game. Is he going to allow Martz to call plays the same way he did in the dome in St. Louis? It is easy to spot potential issues in Chicago, but it is also no stretch to imaging the Bears having a break-out season on offense. Cutler threw 26 interceptions last year and the Bears still won 7 games The defense adds Julius Peppers and gets their unquestioned leader and signal caller back in Brian Urlacher.
With all the uncertainty, the Bears have to be picked as the 3rd place finisher in the NFC North behind the Vikings and Packers. But one thing I have learned over the years is to be careful picking against players, coaches, and teams with something to prove. Can you think of three guys with more to prove that Lovie Smith, Mike Martz, and Jay Cutler for the 2010 season?