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Martz out as Bears' offensive coordinator

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) - Mike Martz is out after two seasons as the Chicago Bears' offensive coordinator.

The team confirmed Tuesday that Martz will not be back. Hours earlier, general manager Jerry Angelo was fired.

The changes come after the Bears finished 8-8 following a collapse marked by season-ending injuries to quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte, along with the arrest of backup receiver Sam Hurd on federal drug charges.

Chicago dropped five in a row following a 7-3 start before closing out the season with a win at Minnesota.

Martz had an expiring contract, and speculation that he might be on his way out mounted as the losses piled up. Quarterbacks coach Shane Day will not be back, either.

"After meeting with Mike this afternoon, we both felt it was best to move in different directions," coach Lovie Smith said in a statement. "I appreciate the job he and Shane did for us over the last two years."

The Bears averaged 21.5 points the past two years, and they ran for 2,015 yards this season with Forte leading the way, just the second time in 21 years they passed the 2,000-yard rushing mark.

Things were clicking in a big way until Cutler broke his right thumb against San Diego on Nov. 20. The Bears were closing out their fifth straight win to improve to 7-3 when he was injured trying to help make a tackle following an interception late in a 31-20 victory.

From there, everything fell apart.

As if losing Cutler wasn't bad enough, the Bears took another hit two weeks later when Forte sprained a ligament in his right knee early in a loss to Kansas City, leaving Chicago without its two best offensive players.

Caleb Hanie struggled in a big way filling in for Cutler, going 0-4 as the starter before Josh McCown got the nod. There were costly mistakes by backup running back Marion Barber in back-to-back close losses to the Chiefs and Denver, and Roy Williams also dropped a touchdown pass in that seven-point loss to Kansas City.

Meanwhile, Martz's name was linked to head-coaching openings at UCLA and Arizona State, as well as the Jacksonville Jaguars, and just last week Smith snapped when he was asked about his offensive coordinator's future.

He fired back, "What kind of question is that anyway? At this time, what kind of question is that? Why would you ask a question like that anyway?"

He was also noncommittal when asked about his coordinator's status on Monday.

Martz, who hired Smith as his defensive coordinator when he was the coach in St. Louis, said he would like to be back, but that's not happening. Now, Smith is looking for his fourth offensive coordinator as he prepares for his ninth season.

Offensive line coach Mike Tice might be first in line for an interview even though he has never been an offensive coordinator. He was heavily involved with the offense as the Minnesota Vikings' head coach for four seasons.

Martz, the mastermind of "The Greatest Show On Turf" as offensive coordinator and head coach of the Rams, was viewed by many as an odd fit for Chicago, someone who tried to force his system on a team that simply didn't have players such as Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Orlando Pace.

In Chicago, he left himself open to second-guessing at times, whether he was calling a failed end-around for Earl Bennett in the NFC championship game last year against Green Bay or having Hanie attempt a throwback screen that got intercepted in his first start against Oakland.

The biggest point of contention was his reliance on deep drops in the early going each of the past two years, leaving Cutler to take a big beating. The Bears turned it around when they committed more to the run and allowed Cutler to move around and get rid of the ball quicker. Chicago won five straight before the big collapse and averaged about 32 points during that stretch, with Cutler leading the way.

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