He has been to 2 Super Bowls. He is hailed as an offensive genius. His team is a perennial playoff contender. He is also one of the worst coaches in the NFL. A contradiction? Not when it's Mike Martz.After Dick Vermeil retired following the 1999 season, the Rams decided to give the job to their brilliant offensive coordinator, Mike Martz.
After all, it was his schemes that gave the Rams the best offense in the NFL. Or so they thought. Despite being a good offensive coordinator, Mike Martz never made a good head coach. He is a poor talent evaluator, with a litany of draft miscues including Trung Candidate, Damione Lewis, and Robert Thomas.
In fact, the best player Martz has drafted in 5 years (not counting the 2005 draft) is Adam Archuleta, a decent safety. Steven Jackson could become a very good player sometime down the road, but he hasn't proven much at this point. Contrast this with the Rams 1999 draft class, which included Dre Bly and Torry Holt, 2 Pro Bowlers. In one draft, Vermeil unearthed more Pro Bowlers than Mike Martz did in 5.
In fact, all of the standout players on the Rams during the Mike Martz period were inherited from Vermeil.Torry Holt, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Az-Zahir Hakim, Leonard Little, Grant Wistrom, Orlando Pace, Jeff Wilkins, Kurt Warner, and Adam Timmerman, among others, were all drafted or otherwise acquired by Dick Vermeil, not Mike Martz. True, under Mike Martz, this has been a very good team. But with the talent on this team in 2000, it should have won more than one Super Bowl. In 1999, the Rams had 6 Pro Bowlers. This is an incredible number, and reflects the astonishing amount of talent they had after their 1999 Super Bowl win.
In 2000, the Rams still had 4 Pro Bowlers-all on offense-showing that the Rams offensive core was still in its prime and able to produce. In 2001, the Rams had 5 Pro Bowlers, again reflecting the amount of talent on the team. I could go on, but this is enough to show that the Rams had amazing talent through the Mike Martz years. The same level of talent that they had in 1999, they had in 2000 and 2001.
Yet they never won another Super Bowl. At least part of the blame for this has to go to Mike Martz.In 1999, the Rams had the number one scoring offense in the league and the fourth ranked defense, leading to a 13-3 record. The next year, the Rams ranked first in scoring offense and 31st in defense, leading to a 10-6 record.
They ranked 31st in defense despite not losing any key defensive personnel. This can be at least partially attributed to Mike Martz's ascension to head coach. He's an offense first guy; defense is simply not important to him. In fact, his defenses have ranked in the top 10 just once during his reign, despite being handed one of the top defenses in the NFL.Now let's see if Dick Vermeil's offenses suffered without the services of Mike Martz. In his first year, Vermeil inherited the 9th ranked scoring offense.
Because of player losses, the offense was ranked 16th the next year. After one year of rebuilding, the team offense was ranked first, first, and second in the succeeding years. So was the Rams offensive success Vermeil's doing or Martz's?.Basically, Mike Martz has been able to have good teams because of the incredible talent base he inherited. He has not drafted well, so he has not been able to significantly replenish his stock of talent.
Within a few years, when the older core players begin to retire, his team will begin to fall apart. You can only ride someone else's coattails for so long. Sooner or later, Mike Martz will be exposed for what he is: a good offensive coordinator who is just not cut out to be a head coach.
I just wish someone would have realized this sooner; with the core the Rams had, they could have won 2 more Super Bowls..Vikas Paruchuri is a sports columnist who writes on the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB. He maintains a website at http://www.thehomefield.com with sports analysis and opinion columns.
By: Vikas Paruchuri
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