Mike Martz

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Mike Martz
Personal information
Date of birth (1951-05-13) May 13, 1951 (age 62)
Place of birth Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Alma mater Fresno State
Head coaching record
Regular season 53–32 (.624)
Postseason 3–4 (.429)
Career record 56–36 (.609)
Team(s) as a coach/administrator
1973

1974

1975

1976–1977

1978

1979

1980–1981

1982

1983–1987

1984, 1988–1991

1992–1994

1995–1996

1997–1998

1999

2000–2005

2006–2007

2008

2010–2011
Bullard High School
(assistant coach)
San Diego Mesa College
(assistant coach)
San Jose State
(assistant coach)
San Diego Mesa College
(assistant coach)
Santa Ana College
(assistant coach)
Fresno State University
(assistant coach)
University of the Pacific
(assistant coach)
University of Minnesota
(assistant coach)
Arizona State University
(quarterbacks/receivers coach)
Arizona State University
(offensive assistant)
Los Angeles Rams
(quarterbacks coach)
St. Louis Rams
(wide receivers coach)
Washington Redskins
(quarterbacks coach)
St. Louis Rams
(offensive coordinator)
St. Louis Rams
(head coach)
Detroit Lions
(offensive coordinator)
San Francisco 49ers
(offensive coordinator)
Chicago Bears
(offensive coordinator)

Michael Martz (born May 13, 1951) is a former NFL head coach and offensive coordinator. He is a current NFL analyst for Fox Sports with Ron Pitts.

Martz is best known as the offensive coordinator behind the St. Louis Rams high-powered 1999 team that won the Super Bowl. As a head coach in the NFL Martz was 56-36 in 5⅓ seasons as the St. Louis Rams head coach. He won two division titles, had four playoff berths including a NFC championship and a trip to Super Bowl XXXVI.

Early career[edit]

Martz played tight end at San Diego Mesa College, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Fresno State University and graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis in 1972. The following year his coaching career began at Bullard High School in Fresno, California. From 1974 to 1991, he was an assistant coach at seven colleges and universities, including two stints as offensive coordinator at Arizona State University.

In 1992 Martz was hired as quarterback coach for the Los Angeles Rams and held that post through 1994. In 1995, when team moved to St. Louis he was hired as wide receivers coach in 1995-96. Under his teaching Isaac Bruce exploded onto the NFL scene, going from 21 receptions in 1994 to 119 and 1781 yards in 1995. And Bruce was voted to his first Pro Bowl in 1996.

Martz left the Rams in 1997 to become quarterback coach at the Washington Redskins and helped develop Trent Green, who signed to be Rams QB in 1999, the season Martz was hired to be the offensive coordinator.

NFL coaching career[edit]

St. Louis Rams[edit]

In 1999, Martz was hired as the offensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams by Dick Vermeil, who went on to win Super Bowl XXXIV that season. During the season, Martz's number one ranked offense scored 526 points, the fourth highest in NFL history.[1] Regarding Martz's impact on the season, Vermeil stated, "I can't think, in my history of coaching, of any assistant who came into an NFL franchise and made the immediate impact that Mike Martz did."

Martz was named head coach of the Rams on February 2, 2000, after Dick Vermeil retired (although Vermeil soon returned to coach the Kansas City Chiefs). He led the Rams to a 10–6 regular season record, but they lost in the 1st round of the playoffs to the New Orleans Saints 31–28.

Head coach[edit]

2001 saw the Rams cruise to a 14–2 record (with Martz's signature, fast-paced, quick-striking offense -- nicknamed "the Greatest Show on Turf" by the media offense -- quarterbacked by two-time league MVP Kurt Warner) and the NFC West title. Martz's Rams went on to win the NFC Championship against the Eagles, before losing Super Bowl XXXVI to New England.

In 2002 the Rams had a see-saw season in which Kurt Warner played injured and committed an unusually high number of turnovers. Also, star running back Marshall Faulk was no longer the factor he had been in previous years -- although many critics blamed this on Martz's tendency to emphasize pass plays, at the expense of running plays.

In 2003, Marc Bulger's first full year as a starter, the Rams fielded a much-improved defense under defensive coordinator Lovie Smith and led the NFL in forced turnovers, and they posted a 12–4 regular season record and made the playoffs. However, the Rams lost at home in the NFC divisional playoffs to the Carolina Panthers in a game that would have put them in the NFC title game. In that game, the Rams had the ball on the Panthers' 15-yard line with 42 seconds remaining and trailing by 3 points. Rather than go for the win in regulation, Martz made the controversial decision to run out the clock and settle for a game-tying field goal and overtime. The decision proved costly for the Rams as they lost in double overtime.

In 2004, the Rams got off to a slow start and Martz's popularity with the fans began to wane; the "online community" was particularly hostile. Despite the early struggles, a late-season rally combined with a weak NFC conference allowed the Rams to sneak into the playoffs as a wild-card with an 8–8 record. They had to overcome an unusual number of injuries, but still managed to beat the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs -- making NFL history by becoming the first team with a non-winning (regular season) record to win a postseason game. The Rams would go on to lose to the Falcons in the divisional round. The loss of defensive coordinator Lovie Smith, who left to become head coach of the Chicago Bears -- and took two of his assistant coaches with him -- clearly hurt the team.

On October 10, 2005, Martz took a leave of absence from the Rams to treat a persistent bacterial infection in his heart. His Assistant Head Coach, Joe Vitt, became Interim Head Coach for the rest of the season, and Offensive Coordinator Steve Fairchild chose the offensive plays. Martz told the Rams that after being examined and evaluated by his treating physician (Dr. Victoria Fraser), his illness would prevent him from performing his duties. Martz immediately announced that he would miss the rest of the season.

Martz allegedly had several conflicts with the Rams' front office over the years, which reportedly came to a climax in 2005, as well. While watching a Rams game on live television while recuperating at home, Team President John Shaw prevented Martz from relaying a play call to Fairchild by phone. Despite being on leave, Martz also periodically appeared in-person at team practices late in the season. Martz was given medical clearance to coach the Rams' last regular season game, on New Year's Day, 2006; however, management refused to let him do so, and fired him the day after that game.

In the seven years that Mike Martz engineered the Rams' offense, the franchise reached the last two of its three overall Super Bowls. His record of 55–5 with a lead any time in the 4th Qtr [91.7 winning %] and 26.5 pts a game as a head coach were the best of all time (at the end of 2005 regular season) by any coach in NFL history (up to that point).

The Rams have had five head coaches (Joe Vitt; Scott Linehan; Jim Haslett; Steve Spagnuolo; and Jeff Fisher) since Martz left. As of January 2014, each of them has amassed only losing win/loss records.

NFL head coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
STL 2000 10 6 0 .563 2nd in NFC West 0 1 .000 Lost to New Orleans Saints in NFC Wild-Card Game.
STL 2001 14 2 0 .875 1st in NFC West 2 1 .867 Lost to New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI.
STL 2002 7 9 0 .438 2nd in NFC West - - - -
STL 2003 12 4 0 .750 1st in NFC West 0 1 .000 Lost to Carolina Panthers in NFC Divisional Game.
STL 2004 8 8 0 .500 2nd in NFC West 1 1 .500 Lost to Atlanta Falcons in NFC Divisional Game.
STL 2005 2 3 0 .400 2nd in NFC West - - - -
STL Total 53 32 0 .624 3 4 .429
Total 53 32 0 .624 3 4 .429

Detroit Lions[edit]

Martz interviewed for head coaching vacancies in Oakland and New Orleans. After the interview, he withdrew his candidacy for the position in Oakland. After initially rejecting an offer due to financial considerations, on February 8, 2006, Martz accepted an offer from the Detroit Lions to be their offensive coordinator and their quarterbacks coach.

In 2006, his first season, the passing game improved considerably, ranking 7th overall behind quarterback Jon Kitna, who had his first 4,000-yard season at age 34. Detroit lost its first five games with Martz and finished 3–13 in his first season as coordinator. Though the offense obviously had its woes, Martz wasn't blamed for very much of the team's issues, as the defense was also bad and there were various injury and personnel issues.

In 2007, expectations were high despite the previous year's disaster, and it appeared Martz's system was actually beginning to work. The Lions looked to be playoff contenders, almost in competition with Green Bay for the division title at mid-season when they sat comfortably at 6–2. Though Kitna was still sacked far too much during this span due mostly due to seven step drops and his inability to quickly read defenses, it was still a great improvement from the year before, and sacks aside, Detroit possessed a decent passing game. Shaun McDonald was their leading receiver with nine hundred and forty three yards. However, the team won only one more game that season and finished 7–9. When even players began to complain of Martz's pass-happy and unbalanced offense, the Lions fired him in the offseason.[2] However, the following season the Lions plummeted in the offensive rankings, and some players (most notably Kitna) were openly frustrated with the conservative play calling that replaced Martz' system as the Lions became the first ever 0-16 team after firing Martz.[3]

San Francisco 49ers[edit]

On January 8, 2008, Martz signed a two-year deal to become the offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers, who hoped that a fourth offensive coordinator in four years could re-energize the offense (and, most notably, QB Alex Smith's career).[4]

Smith would injure his shoulder in the preseason, however, and miss the entire 2008 season. Martz lobbied for journeyman J.T. O'Sullivan to come in as his replacement, but O'Sullivan and the 49ers offense struggled in the first half of the season. After 49ers coach Mike Nolan was fired and Mike Singletary was brought in as interim head coach, the team gave Shaun Hill a chance to establish himself as the starting quarterback.

Martz was let go as offensive coordinator after the 49ers named Singletary Head Coach. Singletary reportedly wanted more of a ball-control, run-oriented offense than Martz is known for crafting.[5] San Francisco ranked 23rd out of 32 teams in points scored, 24th in total yards, 13th in passing yards per game and 22nd in net passing yards per attempt, which represents an improvement over 2007 (when SF ranked dead last in all 3 categories), but they ranked 26th in rushing yards & last in total turnovers. However, in 2007 the 49ers only turned the ball over one fewer time than in 2008 under Martz.

Chicago Bears[edit]

On February 1, 2010, Martz was hired by the Chicago Bears as their offensive coordinator.[6] During his first year in Chicago, the Bears offense was 28th in passing and 22nd in rushing despite having no significant injuries.

Martz was known for aggressive play-calling, and the calls for a pass-happy offense led to quarterback Jay Cutler getting repeatedly sacked. The issue caused Cutler to say to Martz "Tell him I said fuck him!" in a game against the Minnesota Vikings in 2011.[7][8]

On January 3, 2012, Martz resigned his position with the Bears.[9] He reportedly resigned over philosophical differences with Bears head coach Lovie Smith. Martz's final year was marked by a 7-3 start until season-ending injuries to quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte. On January 16, 2012, Martz announced his retirement from coaching.[10][11]

Martz eventually became an analyst for Fox Sports and after that one season, 2012, he retired from coaching football.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mike Martz at head of line for Chicago Bears". Chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  2. ^ Lions fire Mike Martz; OL coach Jim Colletto and WR coach Kippy Brown to run offense[dead link]
  3. ^ AP Photo. "What's eating Jon Kitna? Tough to read Lions' QB". MLive.com. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  4. ^ "ESPN - Former Lions coordinator Martz hired to run 49ers offense - NFL". Sports.espn.go.com. 2008-01-08. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  5. ^ Report: Singletary will keep 49ers job[dead link]
  6. ^ Mike Martz hired as Bears' offensive coordinator[dead link]
  7. ^ "Jay Cutler on cursing out Mike Martz: ‘Things Happen’ | Audibles". Nfl.si.com. 2012-05-15. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  8. ^ "Bears' Cutler Has Message for Mike Martz: Bleep You". Bleacher Report. 2011-10-17. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  9. ^ Soldier Field. "Chicago Bears Football Clubhouse - ESPN". Espn.go.com. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  10. ^ "Mike Martz retiring from coaching - Chicago Sun-Times". Suntimes.com. 2012-01-16. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  11. ^ Thorman, Joel (2012-01-16). "Mike Martz Decides To Retire From The NFL". SBNation.com. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  12. ^ Tribune report 1:27 p.m. CDT, August 7, 2012. "Ex-Bears OC Martz to serve as Fox analyst". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Greg Olson
Detroit Lions Offensive Coordinator
2006-2007
Succeeded by
Jim Colletto
Preceded by
Jim Hostler
San Francisco 49ers Offensive Coordinator
2008
Succeeded by
Jimmy Raye
Preceded by
Ron Turner
Chicago Bears Offensive Coordinator
2010-2011
Succeeded by
Mike Tice