MMQB Mail: Martz could be good fit for Cutler, Bears; latest on Freeney
Jay Cutler has similar characteristics as Mike Martz protege Kurt Warner
Saints got burned when they didn't prepare for iffy DeMarcus Ware
Details on a Super Bowl Tweetup and MMA fans fight back in e-mail
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Mooooooo.
On the bus on the way to Media Day at Super Bowl 44. Ready to elbow peers from Boston to Baton Rouge out of my way so I can ask Ryan Diem a few lame-o questions.
This is Super Bowl number 25 for me, and I'm not particularly sentimental about it. It's a Groundhog Day type of week for me and those who have covered a lot of these games. The buses run like Swiss watches, the schedules are tight and unbending, and the quotes are homogenized and almost always meaningless. But hey, Super Bowl fever! Catch it!
Three quick points while crawling through morning-rush-hour traffic on I-95 toward the stadium, before getting to your e-mail:
I LIKE THE MARTZ HIRE IN CHICAGO. I thought teams were steering clear of Mike Martz because stories of how hard he was to work with in San Francisco and Detroit were following him. (Not my stories, but stories from those staffs.) I think Martz is brilliant, and now he has a potentially brilliant quarterback to work with. What exactly did he have in San Francisco and Detroit? Not brilliant quarterbacks. I don't know if Jay Cutler can be Kurt Warner. None of us do. But what I would love if I were a Bears fan is that Cutler has a lot of Warner's characteristics. He's smart, confident (maybe too much so), decisive, and wants to have the power of the offense all resting in his hands when he gets to the line of scrimmage.
Here's what Warner told me about Martz, his offense and his role in it: "What was perfect for me was that Mike drew the game up exactly the way I always wanted to play football -- with a lot of quick decisions to be made. He wanted to play decisively, not be afraid to make decisions and live with them. And I had the great toys at my disposal in that offense. I played exactly the way the offense was drawn up by Mike. It was a perfect marriage.''
I'd be surprised if Martz didn't have a positive impact on Cutler. The Bears still need to rebuild that sieve of an offensive line, and no draft picks in the top 70 of the draft doesn't help. But improving the line is vital to help Martz and Cutler succeed, because this could be another one-and-done year for Martz if the Bears don't produce a winning record.
DWIGHT FREENEY IS NOT GOING TO BE DWIGHT FREENEY IN THE SUPER BOWL. Everything I'm hearing is that Freeney's injury, as reported Sunday by Adam Schefter, is much more than your garden-variety sprain. I also am hearing he is determined to try to play. The Saints are approaching the game as though he will play, which is smart because the last time there was an iffy impact edge-rusher entering a game against them -- DeMarcus Ware on Dec. 18 -- they didn't prepare. Ware, of course, ended up tormenting Drew Brees and poor Jermon Bushrod as Dallas handed New Orleans its first loss.
The Saints would be wise to work on the Colts as if Freeney is healthy as a horse, because you never know how he'll look Sunday at 6:30, with the wonders of modern rehab. But it's going to be very difficult for him on one healthy wheel to get the kind of torque he needs to be a powerful presence on the blind side of Brees.
TWEETUP THURSDAY NIGHT IN FORT LAUDERDALE. I'll be hosting a Tweetup (a meeting of the 379,740 or so who follow me on Twitter -- well, hopefully not all of you) at 8:30 p.m., the Fort Lauderdale Renaissance Hotel on SE 17th Street adjacent to the Broward County Convention Center. All are welcome, Tweeters and non-Tweeters alike. I'll be there to answer any questions, mingle, and be totally opinionated. I'll have several guests, among them Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who will be on hand to sign copies of his The Ultimate Super Bowl Book,'' a gem with things that even the biggest fan of any teams didn't know about each one of the Big Games.
Now onto your e-mail:
GOOD IDEA. From Mark in Castle Rock, Colo.: "I realize that the Colts will want to put their healthiest 53 men on the field Sunday, but what if they switched Dwight Freeney from right end to left end? The logic being he wouldn't be pushing off with his right ankle as he cuts toward Drew Brees."
I actually think this is a very good idea -- if Robert Mathis is comfortable playing the right side. In fact, that's a question I'll be asking this morning** at Colts Media Day because I wouldn't be surprised to see Indy defensive coordinator Larry Coyer do something imaginative like that. If Freeney plays the left side, that would make the dominant leg the left one, which is healthy and could be used as his push-off leg much more readily than his right.
**UPDATE (2:01 p.m.): I did not speak with Mathis during the Colts media session, but I did talk to versatile linemen Raheem Brock and Coyer. Seems that if Freeney is absent, the most likely scenario on passing downs will involve Brock at left end and Mathis at right. Brock told me when he comes in the game for Freeney, oftentimes Mathis will go to the right. And so the switch from that perspective really shouldn't be very difficult for Mathis. The question the Colts will have, obviously, is how to generate the same amount of pressure with Brock and Mathis (and others) that they do with Freeney and Mathis.
A MEMORABLE NIGHT. From Christopher in Blackburn, England: "Dear Peter, love your column and follow it religiously. With the Super Bowl closing in, what it your favourite Super Bowl moment?"
I have quite a few of those, but I would say that my favorite one happened after Steve Young torched the San Diego Chargers 15 years ago. My job for SI was to tail Young for the entire postgame and then go back to the team hotel if possible.
The game was played in Miami. It was a hot and humid evening. Young spent two hours doing interviews with every TV affiliate he could find after the game. At one point, he turned to me and said, "Can you get me something to eat or drink? I'm exhausted." I found him cookies and red Gatorade. Eventually we got into his limo with agent Leigh Steinberg for the trip back to his hotel.
About five minutes into the trip, Young, cramping up and feeling nauseous, let loose a stream of cherry vomit all over Steinberg's shoes. "Well, Lee," I said, "You'll never wash those shoes again." Later, in his suite, Young laid on his bed and had to get two IVs because he was so dehydrated. And when someone in the Young party yelled out, "Joe Who?" in reference to Joe Montana and the long shadow he cast over Young's career in San Francisco, Young blurted out, "Hey, hey. Stop that. This is no time for that." Just a memorable night.
MMA FANS FIGHT BACK. From CJ in Baltimore: "As a weekly reader of MMQB, I find you to be an intelligent writer. However, your comment about Rex Ryan's giving the finger being 'commendable behavior there (at an MMA event)' was pretty ignorant. MMA is no more violent than football and even has less injuries, and the participants aren't getting arrested for shooting themselves or kicked off events for partying too hard. Please do some research before making uneducated comments again."
On Twitter and in e-mail, I heard from a lot of MMA fans saying similar things. You are probably right. I have never been to an MMA event and perhaps I am misjudging the character of the crowd. I just thought it was a funny line, and if I offended you and any other MMA fans, I apologize.
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