Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler still considers former offensive coordinator Mike Martz "one of the brightest minds in the game," but admitted his system may have been behind the times, while adding the coach's inflexibility played a role in the unit's struggles.
Cutler said the players bought into Martz's system Wednesday on ESPN 1000's "Waddle & Silvy Show," but "there comes a point where you have to give a little bit, and you've got to take a look at the whole offense, what we're good at, and what we're bad at.
"You have to be able to change a little bit, and I think that's kind of where we messed up a little bit. There wasn't flexibility as I think we needed."
In January, Martz and the organization mutually decided to part ways over "philosophical differences" on the heels of a pair of mediocre seasons in which the offense ranked 24th in 2011 and 30th in 2010, and the coach retired shortly after.
Throughout his tenure with the Bears, Martz came under fire for his playcalling, which at times appeared to be too heavily geared toward passing. In addition, his offense had protection issues, which were exacerbated by a passing game heavily reliant on seven-step drops. After a 7-3 start last season, the club lost five of its last six after injuries to Cutler and running back Matt Forte.
Cutler called Martz unique in "being able to script up some plays and draw some stuff in the ground," adding "there's no one like Mike."
"He can get guys open better than anyone I've really ever been around. He's very, very, very, smart," Cutler said.
Martz's system has been criticized-- despite the success it achieved during the coach's tenure with the St. Louis Rams from 1999 to 2005 -- for not evolving with the NFL's defenses in recent years. In addition, Martz wasn't working with the same talent he deployed during the Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf" years.
"They had Orlando Pace (at left tackle). They had some dudes up front where you were able to take seven-step drops," Cutler said. "I don't think defenses were as evolved as they are now. Safeties were different. Not every team had a defensive end that was going to be able to sack you if you keep taking seven-step drops. It was a different time, different game. Defenses I think since have kind of caught up to that."
Before joining the Bears prior to the 2010 season, Martz hadn't directed a top-10 offense since 2004 in St. Louis.
"We gave it a shot," Cutler said. "I still respect Mike."