LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick knows precisely what Jay Cutler deals with on a day-to-day basis trying to execute the scheme of Bears’ offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
A sixth-year NFL veteran backed by a Harvard education, Fitzpatrick played a year for Martz at St. Louis, which originally selected him in 2005 as a seventh-round pick. Fitzpatrick has operated five different offenses in his six seasons, but calls Martz’s system -- which he learned as a rookie -- the toughest.
Here’s a sampling of what Fitzpatrick had to say about Martz’s offense:
What was it like as a rookie to try and learn Martz’s offense?
Ryan Fitzpatrick: It was extremely difficult. I mean, it was a lot different than anything I had been exposed to. At the same time, I think that it was fun. It was a challenge, and it’s obviously been very successful. For me, it provided a great base, just in terms of understanding concepts, offensive philosophy, and different ways to exploit a defense. It was difficult, but I spent a lot of time trying to get it down, and understanding why he was doing what he was doing. I think it’s helped throughout my career.
Had you started learning Martz’s offense as a more experience quarterback, would that have made things less difficult for you?
RF: I think it places a lot of demands on the quarterback, and in that sense, it’s probably more difficult. But that’s why, if you look over the years, he’s had so many great years and so many good quarterbacks because they understand the challenge. He does a good job of teaching them.
What was the most difficult aspect of running Martz’s offense?
RF: I was a rookie, so I was third string on the depth chart. I didn’t get a ton of exposure in terms of running plays and stuff in camp. I think it’s all based on muscle memory and repetition. If you don’t get the chance to get the reps, then it’s increasingly difficult because it’s an offense that’s so much based on timing and footwork. So I think the hardest thing, for me at least, was not being able to get the reps. I was the third-string quarterback, so at that point it wasn’t a big deal.
Of all the systems in which you played, was Martz’s the toughest?
RF: Yeah, but it’s the most difficult I guess in terms of maybe terminology and volume. At the same time, it’s one of those that’s the most fun because when you’re on the same page with everybody, and when you have weapons, then there’s a lot of different things he’ll do to exploit the defense.