Bears coach Lovie Smith said he wanted a little time to evaluate things before figuring out the Mike Martz situation. But there are more indications that he wants to make a change than maintain the status quo.
The decision on Martz is the most immediate quandary facing Smith and the Bears after an 8-8 season that hinged on Martz' offense: Jay Cutler was never better as a Bear during the five-game winning streak that put the Bears at 7-3 and a serious contender to the Packers in the NFC. But Martz quickly became the culprit when Caleb Hanie crapped out after Cutler suffered a broken thumb.
"We did a lot of good things offensively and we're evaluating everything and Mike's a part of that. So I can't tell you,'' when asked if Martz would return in 2012. ''Mike is a guy who's been around a few years. I haven't had a chance to sit down with Mike to see exactly which way he wants to go, and which way we want to go."
Smith was told that Martz, who finished a two-year contract this season, said last week he wants to return.
"I have to sit down with Mike and I haven't done that,'' Smith said. ''There's a process I go through each year and I haven't done that."
Smith said he would try to figure out the Martz situation and also that of special teams coordinator Dave Toub -- also out of contract -- ''as soon as possible. But that could take some time, too.''
It's all conjecture at this point. But one indication that Smith either is going to make a change, is leaning toward making a change or will end up making a change was when he downplayed one of the biggest reasons for keeping Martz -- that forcing an offense that already is offensively challenged to learn a new system would put the Bears back to Square One.
"In an ideal world you would have the same coaches the entire time that players are here. It just doesn't work that way in the NFL,'' he said. ''I think you look at each situation in the NFL a little differently. If that's the case and you can do that, then fine. But that hasn't been the case for us. We've had coaches change. Most places you have coaches that leave, and players that leave, where you can't do that. But I think players adjust fairly well.''
Some key players are on record as being in favor of Martz returning, which normally doesn't mean a whole lot, but might in this situation because Martz isn't exactly a beloved or player-friendly coordinator.
''We were 7-3 at one point because he was our offensive coordinator,'' said center Roberto Garza, the team's offensive captain. ''He's a great coach. And knows exactly how to motivate us and get us going. You'd like to have continuity. So we'd like to have him back. But it's out of our hands.
Martz's offense ''is my comfort zone. I think it's everybody's comfort zone,'' wide receiver Roy Williams said. ''I think Jay has progressed under Mike Martz -- had a tough first year, but this year he got it. It takes a while for people to learn this offense and he got it. I don't think that, me personally, I don't think we should change, because we'd be starting over again.''
But not everybody thinks it would be that big of a deal to change coordinators again.
''That would be tough to do, but it happens all the time,'' running back Matt Forte said. ''You've got to learn the playbook. When Coach Martz first came in, we learned his plays and did pretty well. It's just when there's no consistency and having to change the playbook and all that, that makes it a little more tough."