TSX: Bears Notes & Quotes

The Sports Xchange discusses Mike Martz's contract extension, the team's familiarity with Gabe Carimi, George McCaskey's new role with the team, Nathan Enderle and more.

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz recently turned down a one-year contract extension with the team because the offer did not include a pay increase. That leaves open the possibility Martz could be a coaching free agent after the 2011 season.

Martz still believes things will eventually "work out." He said, "I have a representative in Bob LaMonte who's the best at what he does. I just do whatever he tells me to. He doesn't tell me how to coach, and I don't tell him how to negotiate. But he knows how badly I want to be here, and I would like an extension. I don't worry about it. I'm sure it'll work out."

Asked about those latter feelings, Martz said last season "was as much fun as I've had in coaching in many years, and the reason why is Lovie (Smith) makes it fun. He's a terrific head coach. He provides great leadership, and he lets you do your job."

As for quarterback Jay Cutler, Martz had nothing but praise for his ability and toughness.

Mike Martz
Nam Y. Huh/Getty

"He's resilient," Martz said. "He's going to pop back up (after being hit). And he really adjusts very well in games. Jay is very special. He hasn't even touched on what he can be yet. I know he feels good about where he is as a player, but I'm not even sure he knows how good he could be.

"To me, he could be the very best in the league right now. Absolutely. We just have to get him there. There are some things we need to clean up. But he's on his way."

Finally, Martz noted getting comfortable with the supporting cast.

He said, "We're learning a lot about our guys, and what we can do and can't do," while noting it's unfair to compare the offense to what he had in St. Louis.

"We were on a fast track, indoors, and we had a litany of receivers," Martz said. "One gets injured, and we'd trot another one out there. "(Ours are) good, but we're not as deep."

--The changing of the guard officially took place with the Chicago Bears as George McCaskey took over from his brother Michael as chairman of the board.

George McCaskey is the eighth oldest of Ed and Virginia McCaskey's 11 children. Virginia McCaskey is the daughter of club founder George Halas.

On the same day as the changeover, the Bears made their address 1920 Football Drive instead of 1000 Football Drive. The team was formed in 1920.

Said George McCaskey, who has run the team's ticket office since 1991, "It's humbling and exciting. All that my brothers and sisters are asking of me is everything that I've got, and I'm sure Bears fans expect nothing less than everything that I've got, and that's what I intend to give."

His new role will have his main responsibility of representing the club in league issues.

Club president and CEO Ted Phillips will still be in charge of the day-to-day team operations.

"I don't see any dramatic changes," George McCaskey said. "My role will really be as a sounding board, an advisor if Ted wants me in that role; as a representative of the family, of ownership and the board; and to create as positive of an environment as possible. The way I see it my job is to work with and in support of the president and CEO in creating a climate that's conducive to sustained success."

--Because first-round draft pick Gabe Carimi played his home games just two hours away at the University of Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium, the Bears had many opportunities to see him play in person and get to know him as a player and a person. And no one had more opportunities to get to know Carimi than Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice, whose son Nate is a backup quarterback at Wisconsin.

"He's been an outstanding player at Wisconsin for four years," Tice said of the 6-7, 314-pound Carimi. "He's gotten better every year; he's gotten tougher every year, too. It's nice to have another guy in the building who's as big as I am. And that's what we're trying to do; we're trying to get bigger. We got a very good football player with a great track record. The tape doesn't lie."

Tice said the Bears had Carimi rated as their fourth-best offensive lineman, although he was the seventh O-lineman and fifth offensive tackle picked. Despite some discussion, it's a virtual lock that he will be plugged in at one of the tackle spots.

"I think he's an outside player, personally," Tice said.

--Offensive coordinator Mike Martz found a lot to like about Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle when he worked him out before the draft - enough that the Bears made him their fifth-round pick (160th overall).

"Coach Martz had a real strong conviction on him, and we agreed with the traits that he saw," Bears director of player personnel Tim Ruskell said. "This guy looks good coming off the bus. He has the attributes, he has the traits that Mike's looking for at the position, so it was a good consensus.

"He's a big guy, he's got a very strong arm, he's a very intelligent man, and an intelligent quarterback. He didn't have the stats his senior year, (because they) lost a lot of guys from the year before. Coach Martz really kind of fell for the kid in terms of the intangibles that he brings."

The 6-4, 240-pound Enderle was a four-year starter who struggled along with the Vandals' program, going 17-29 as a starter. After completing 61.5 percent of his throws as a junior with 22 touchdown passes and just nine interceptions to lead the Vandals to an 8-5 record, Enderle completed just 56.7 percent of his throws last season with 22 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

The Vandals' '09 season was their first winning campaign in 11 years.

Enderle doesn't figure to see much playing time in the foreseeable future playing behind Jay Cutler and Caleb Hanie, but he can use that down time to his advantage.

"It's going to be different, but it's going to be good for me," he said. "I can really work on fixing some things that I want to fix and that need to be fixed, and that's going to give me the opportunity to do that. And then to really come in and learn the playbook and really prepare myself and get myself in a position where if I need to (play), I can."

--The selection of is evidence that the Bears weren't just paying lip service to the concept of developing their own quarterbacks, even though wide receiver and linebacker may have been more pressing needs. They also wanted to avoid last year's situation when they were forced to add 38-year-old veteran Todd Collins late in the preseason when Hanie was injured.

"The value of the (quarterback) position (superseded) everything else in terms of other players at that point," Angelo said. "We want to develop our own quarterbacks, and we want to stay with that plan. We hit a speed bump last year, and we just felt like the plan is in place, and we feel very good with him coming on board."

LB J.T. Thomas
Charles LeClaire/US Presswire

--Sixth-round pick J.T. Thomas (No. 195 overall) will probably have to earn his way onto the roster by playing special teams, which is OK with him.

"I played on every special teams (unit) at West Virginia University," he said. "When I was younger, I played a lot of different special teams. As I got older, I was a little more valuable to the team, so I didn't play as many, but I was always on the punt coverage team and punt block team."

The 6-1, 241-pounder could be coming into a favorable situation since the Bears have only two linebackers under contract, although that will change whenever free agency begins.

"He fits us perfectly," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. "He can play all three (linebacker) positions. He played multiple roles at West Virginia. We spent a lot of time (evaluating) him. We saw him at an all-star game, and he got hurt during that practice week, but we feel very, very good about his fit. Picking up a linebacker was a goal (Saturday), and he was the right one."

--Commissioner Roger Goodell encouraged the Bears to compensate the Ravens with a draft pick for the Thursday snafu that would have had the Bears and Baltimore swapping first-round picks.

The Ravens would also have gotten the Bears' fourth-round pick for moving back three spots from 26 to 29. But because of miscommunication in the Bears' draft room, the swap was never called in to the league, and the confusion caused the Ravens to go past their allotted time and move back to 27. But losing the fourth-round pick they thought they had was what fueled their anger.

"That (report) was accurate," Angelo said. "But they have rules when you do something wrong, not when people make mistakes, and a mistake was made. No rules were broken, so let's just make that clear."

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