Vermeil: Martz good fit for Bears

Updated: January 7, 2010, 1:32 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

After one former St. Louis Rams official warned Mike Martz would ruin quarterback Jay Cutler, Martz's former boss said he would be a great fit for the Chicago Bears' offensive coordinator position.

"He would be excellent. He and [Bears coach] Lovie [Smith] have worked together before successfully," former Rams coach Dick Vermeil said Thursday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "There probably is not a finer offensive coordinator in the National Football League than Mike Martz."

Martz, who was the Rams' offensive coordinator under Vermeil during their 1999 Super Bowl season and then took over as head coach when Vermeil retired, is one of several names reportedly being considered to replace Ron Turner as the Bears offensive coordinator.

On Tuesday, former Rams general manager Charlie Armey told ESPNChicago.com columnist Melissa Isaacson: "I don't think Martz would work well with Jay Cutler at all. He's a terrible ... coach, and he would ruin that kid like he ruined Kurt Warner and drove him out of St. Louis. He's the worst thing that could happen to any young quarterback."

Vermeil, who gave Martz his first NFL offensive coordinator job when he hired him away from the Washington Redskins before the 1999 season, said he doesn't know what happened between Martz and Armey, but he knows firsthand what Martz can do for an offense and a quarterback.

"I don't know what happened with the Rams after I left in terms of a deterioration of morale, but I know he took a team to the Super Bowl along with the help of Lovie Smith [who was the Rams defensive coordinator on their 2001 Super Bowl team]," Vermeil said. "Kurt Warner came off the street, and he made him NFL player of the year. The year before, he was most valuable scout team player on our team in 1998. The next year he was the most valuable player in the league.

"Mike has his negatives, I'm sure like we all do. But to be successful in coaching you have to work with multiple styles of personalities. You've got to be able to get them to work together. I didn't have any problems with Mike Martz. None whatsoever. I have great respect for him, and I think he has great respect for me. We took a team to the Super Bowl. Without him we don't go."

Vermeil believes Smith could handle a strong personality such as Martz.

"I think Mike would be excellent for him," Vermeil said. "Mike is so bright, and Mike is so opinionated and strong-minded, but you have to be if you're going to be a good leader. I think it takes a very confident, self-assured head coach to work well with Mike Martz, someone that has all the hang ups behind them, and he's not concerned about having someone so strong around him. He's so good sometimes he can almost make you feel inferior."

Martz, who also had stops as a coordinator in Detroit (2006-07) and San Francisco (2008), has a reputation for aggressive play-calling and an overindulgence with the passing game.

"He is bright, extremely bright," Vermeil said. "Secondly, he has a great natural feel for the game and a great feel for the players and what they can and what they can't do. I think he has an even greater feel when he analyzes a defense and what they do not do well and how to go about attacking them at their weakest points. He can exploit a defensive football team. The other thing is, he's a courageous playcaller. He can scare you to death when you're on the other end of the headset. Once you get used to his aggressive approach and working with him as a team, I don't think there's any better."

Ultimately, the decision will be made by the man who was given his big break by Martz.

"Nobody knows Mike Martz any better than Lovie Smith," Vermeil said. "They took a team to the Super Bowl. They did a wonderful job together, and the reason [Smith] is a head coach in Chicago is because Mike Martz gave him an opportunity to be a defensive coordinator, and they had tremendous success. If he had been the defensive coordinator with the Rams and they were lousy and they didn't win, he wouldn't be the head coach of the Bears."

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