In other words, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean everybody’s not out to get you.
After it ended in St. Louis, Martz went to Detroit in 2006 as Rod Marinelli’s offensive coordinator for the Lions. In his first year running that offense, 34-year-old quarterback Jon Kitna threw for 4,208 yards for a 3-13 Lions team that capped its season with a 39-31 win at Dallas. In 2007, the Lions started 6-2, averaging better than 25 points per game in their first four. Kitna again threw for more than 4,000 yards but eventually, the utter lack of talent on the roster caught up with them and they finished 7-9. Blame was thrown Martz’s way for not running the ball enough and he was shown the door in favor of guys who’d commit more to the run.
So Martz left and in 2008, the Lions became the first team in NFL history to go 0-16. Martz landed with the 49ers, hired by Mike Nolan despite the advance smearing he believes was done by his old friends from St. Louis.
The Niners went from scoring 219 points in 2007 to 339 in 2008. But when Nolan was fired and Mike Singletary was named head coach in January, Martz was out.
“I felt overall it was the best thing for him to leave,” says Singletary. “He and I worked pretty well together but I felt as an organization going forward, the best thing for me was to find a coordinator that wouldn’t have to compromise what he believed. I know (Martz) wants to throw and be creative. I felt I needed a coordinator that felt the way I do about offense which is run-oriented and a little more conservative. That’s not Mike. But rather than trying to contain and micromanage him, I didn’t want to do that to someone who has the genius for offense he has.”
Why, Singletary was asked, is Martz such a pariah?
“Maybe at some point in time he had a reputation of being arrogant or whatever but when we had him here, I worked with him, we had a lot of conversations and I felt very comfortable with him,” says Singletary. “We spent many hours together. You hear about Mike: ‘The guy’s arrogant. He’s tough to work with. He wants to throw ball all the time ... bottom line for me is he really tried to do what I asked him to do. My approach with him was I didn’t come at him as ‘I’m head coach around here.’ When you come at Mike Martz, you have to do it in a respectful way. Mike can be a very nice guy. But if you ask 10 people, you may get 10 different answers.”
Martz’s agent, Bob Lamonte, readily acknowledges the aspects of his client’s personality that rankles.
"The problem with Mike Martz isn’t that he’s not good, it’s that he's smart and opinionated," says Lamonte. "And this league has morphed into a league for coaches who make no waves. You’ve got to take the rose with the thorns with Mike Martz. The problem is that we’ve got a system where, if someone has opinions, then it’s best not to deal with him. But Mike is brilliant. The NFL needs him."
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
"Maybe it’s time to take some time off and reflect,” he wonders. "I just haven't been able to go along to get along. I think it's a mistake on my part."
Does this mean a change in approach?
"Oh, I have to," he admits. "There’s no question."
"I empathize with Mike," says Singletary. "He's a brilliant football mind and he deserves to be a head coach in this league again."
ProFootballTalk: Patriots QB Tom Brady addressed Wes Welker’s decision to head West to Denver. Brady says he isn’t surprised by anything after being in the league for so long and hopes that Welker has a great season with the Broncos.
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