When Bears coach Lovie Smith was asked about it after Wednesday's practice inside the Walter Payton Center, he was clearly annoyed and answered the question with a question: "What kind of question is that anyway, at this time?" Smith said. "What kind of question is that? Why would you ask a question like that anyway?"
The obvious reply is: "To get an honest answer."
But that's not happening at Halas Hall – at least not for now.
The bottom line is, if Smith had already decided he wanted Martz back for next season, he would have said so. The absence of a vote of confidence is not a good sign for Martz. It doesn't necessarily mean that he won't be back, but more and more, it appears to be a probability.
"Obviously I would sure like to be back," Martz said. "I think all of that stuff works out. This is going to be a great football team, and I would like to be a part of it. We'll just see how it works out. We'll address that when the season is over."
If Martz has received any indication one way or the other from Smith regarding his future employment, he's not saying.
"All of those kinds of things I would never discuss," Martz said. "It is what it is. I've addressed it and I like it here. Hopefully, it works out."
At the time of quarterback Jay Cutler's season-ending thumb injury on Nov. 20, the Bears were 16th in total yards, 14th in rushing yards, 22nd in passing yards and No. 6 in scoring. After five games without Cutler, the Bears are now 20th in total yards, eighth in rushing yards, 26th in passing yards and 16th in scoring.
After Cutler was lost, Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte played just one more full game until he suffered a season-ending knee injury. Early in Week 15, leading receiver Johnny Knox was eliminated with a season-ending back injury. Cutler's injury came in the Bears' fifth straight victory; since then they've lost five straight. His loss was the beginning of the end for the Bears.
"We were just getting kind of rolling," Martz said. "You've got to feel that way to some extent."
Martz was asked if the Bears' injury situation should be taken into account when deciding his future.
"I'm not going to get into all of that stuff," he said. "I'm not going to discuss anything like that."
But Martz believes that progress was being made before the rash of injuries hit.
"We were getting better every week," he said. "I thought we were doing a good job. But that just happens. You just have to move on."
Maybe that's what Lovie Smith and the Bears are already telling Martz.
"I was shocked," Toub said. "(Hester) had a great year, three returns (for touchdowns) and he had one on kickoff return and two on punt return. The fact that he did both, I thought he should (have gone). I'm not taking anything away from Peterson because he is a great punt returner, no question."
Peterson returned four punts for touchdowns this season.
"Since he stepped into a Bears uniform he's been like that," center Roberto Garza said. "He's been a Pro Bowl player, been a guy that can do it all. He can pass protect, run the ball, catch the ball, and he's a smart guy who brings a lot of energy to this team. He goes out there and puts on his helmet and goes to work every single day, so he's definitely one of the team leaders and one of the guys that we look to on the offensive side."
BY THE NUMBERS: 5 – The Bears are currently on a five-game losing streak, which immediately followed a five-game win streak, the first time that's happened in franchise history.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Honestly, my prayer is that I don't get relaxed. I really want to keep that edge because I think there was a lot of good that came from some of that anxiety." – Bears QB Josh McCown on being able to relax in his second start this week. Prior to last week, his previous start was four years ago.
Williams, who was signed to the practice squad early last season after being cut by the Redskins, started three games at right guard last season. This season he stepped in after Chris Williams (no relation) suffered a season-ending dislocation of his left wrist and has performed well enough to be considered a candidate for a full-time starting job next season. Edwin Williams has added value because he can play center, where he started for three years at Maryland.