If Mike Martz and Jay Cutler were to have a successful relationship, there had to be a connection when the two met just over a week ago in Nashville. The Chicago Bears and Martz, interviewing for their offensive coordinator position, wanted to make sure the candidate and quarterback could work together.
That connection didn't take long to establish, according to Martz, who officially got the job two days after that first meeting.
"It's such a big thing to have a coordinator and a quarterback on the same page, obviously," Martz said Monday on "Carmen, Jurko & Harry" on ESPN 1000. "If there is any kind of ill will or ill feeling or just philosophically not on the same page, I don't care who it is, it's not going to work.
"As talented as he is, it's important that he understands what whoever is going to run the offense is about, and of course I have got to have a good feeling about him. We had a good get-acquainted meeting. We hit it off immediately. I think there's a real strong connection, at least I felt that way.
"Intellectually, he is just off the charts. His talent can never be overstated. He is really anxious. He's all about winning and doing things the right way."
Cutler, who led the NFL with 26 interceptions in his first season with the Bears, will learn his third offense in three seasons. His new system is known for its gaudy quarterback numbers, but Martz says his offense is all about doing what needs to be done to win.
"We're just going to win," Martz said. "Who cares whether you throw it or run it? Whatever it takes, the goal is to win the game. If you've got to run it 40 times to win, that's what you do."
Martz's name emerged early in the search to replace Ron Turner, who was fired as offensive coordinator on Jan. 6. He watched for nearly four weeks as the Bears were linked to many candidates, all lesser known and without the credentials of Martz, who won a Super Bowl as the St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator and advanced to another as the Rams head coach.
Martz, who worked this past season as an analyst for NFL Network, insisted the prolonged period was just part of the process, and he had no problems waiting for a decision by Smith, who was his defensive coordinator with the Rams.
"There's a process that Lovie told me about from the beginning," Martz said. "It was going to take some time. I expected that it was going to take some time to bring everyone through and talk to everybody. I was doing the TV stuff, and I was doing fine out there. I knew it would take its course over time."
It worked out for Martz, and he's happy to be working with a man he respects as much as Smith.
"He's the best there is, and you just can't get by that," Martz said. "He is what the National Football League needs. As a man, he's beyond reproach, character-wise, and he's one of the best football coaches I've been around. They can talk all they want about the Tampa 2 [defense] and who came up with it, but I promise you, he's the one who invented it and how you play the linebackers. He would never tell you that. It wasn't [Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator] Monte [Kiffin], it was Lovie Smith. And I'm telling you there isn't a better football coach I know."