Proehl: Martz could make Cutler a star

Updated: February 1, 2010, 5:31 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

Former St. Louis Rams wide receiver Ricky Proehl said Mike Martz is an offensive genius, but Proehl also said Martz's ego needs to be kept in check in order for him to succeed as the Chicago Bears' offensive coordinator.

The Bears hired Martz on Monday. It's a reunion for Lovie Smith, who was hired by Martz as the Rams defensive coordinator in 2001. The Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV with Martz as offensive coordinator but lost Super Bowl XXXVI with Martz as head coach.

"Mike can be his greatest strength, and he can be his greatest weakness," Proehl said Monday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "In my mind, he's a genius as far as Xs and Os. When we were hitting on all cylinders and playing well, it was exciting to go into an offensive meeting with Mike. He had packages for each guy, and it was a lot of fun, because he made it exciting for us.

"He has to coach underneath Lovie Smith and understand he's not a head coach, he's an offensive coordinator, and ultimately it's Lovie's football team."

Proehl caught touchdown passes in both of the Rams' Super Bowl appearances.

"I think it could be a good fit for Chicago, because Lovie and Mike go back a long way and have a pretty good relationship," he said. "It's do or die for Lovie right now, so why not take a chance on Coach Martz igniting that offense?"

The Bears interviewed Martz on Friday, and Martz flew down to Nashville, Tenn. to talk with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on Saturday. Martz, working as an analyst for the NFL Network, criticized Cutler's attitude after the quarterback threw four interceptions in a season-opening loss at Green Bay.

Whether Cutler and Martz could co-exist was one of the questions surrounding a Bears' coaching search that included talks with Kevin Rogers, Ken Zampese and Rob Chudzinski.

"I don't know Jay Cutler," Proehl said. "I'd like to think they could [co-exist], at least initially. Mike's a head-strong man. He wants it done his way, and he's particular in his footwork, his delivery, quick release, where he wants the ball thrown.

"If Jay can understand that going in that this is what works and what will be successful and you're going to do it his way, if he can understand that, they'll have a great relationship, because Mike will make him a star. I know in his mind he is a star, but he can take him to possibly his next level."

Proehl said Martz deserves a lot of credit for developing Warner, but Proehl also criticized Martz for getting rid of Warner.

"Mike helped build the success we had in St. Louis, there's no question," Proehl said. "We had some great coaches, and Dick Vermeil -- the head coach -- was awesome. I felt if Mike continued to do the things that made him a great football coach, ... we possibly would have won that [Super Bowl] year in '01.

"I think his ego got in the way. He started out small when he had Kurt as far as keeping it simple. Our passing game, our offense as a whole evolved tremendously. We'd go into gameplans week in and week out with 200-plus plays. Did we need all those plays? No. We had smart guys who could assume their responsibility and learn all those plays. I think we got too cute, too fancy and over time it ended up being our demise. He got rid of guys I don't think needed to leave that were the backbone of that football team. Eventually he got rid of Kurt."

Still, Proehl believes Martz could get the job done in Chicago.

"Mike would have top put the pieces together in Chicago to be successful, but I think he's got some young guys who could do it," he said.

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