Mike Martz

Date of birth May 13 1951 (1951-05-13) (age 69)
Place of birth Sioux Falls, South Dakota
No. N/A
Career highlights
Coaching Record / Statistics
Regular season 53-32
Career player statistics (if any)
Team(s) as a player (if any)
Team(s) as a coach/administrator (if any)









1984, 1988-1991








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
(assistant coach)
University of the Pacific
(assistant coach)
(assistant coach)
Arizona State
(quarterbacks and wide receivers coach)
Arizona State
(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 currently the offensive coordinator for the National Football League's Chicago Bears.

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 | edit source]

Martz played tight end at San Diego Mesa College, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Fresno State 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.

NFL coaching career[edit | edit source]

St. Louis Rams[edit | edit source]

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 (he later changed his mind and coached across the state at Kansas City). He led the Rams to a 10–6 regular season record, but they lost in the 1st round to the New Orleans Saints 31–28.

Head coach[edit | edit source]

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

In 2002 the Rams had a see-saw season in which Kurt Warner played injured and committed more turnovers than usual; Marshall Faulk was also not the factor he had been in previous years, although many faulted Martz for his tendency to emphasize the pass too much and not run Faulk more.

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 to become the first team in NFL history to win a playoff game without a winning record. The Rams would go on to lose to the Falcons in the divisional round. The loss of defensive coordinator Lovie Smith, who left for Chicago and took two of his assistants, 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. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt handled coaching duties as the interim head coach for the rest of the season and offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild served as the play-caller. Martz told the Rams that after being examined and evaluated by his treating physician, Dr. Victoria Fraser, that his illness would prevent him from performing his duties. Martz immediately announced he would miss the rest of the season.

Martz allegedly had several conflicts with the St. Louis front office over the years which reportedly came to a climax in 2005. While recovering from his illness at home and watching a live Rams game on television, Martz was blocked by team president John Shaw from relaying a play call to Fairchild by phone. Martz continued to show up periodically at team practices late in the season, and was given medical clearance to coach the Rams' last regular season game on New Year's Day. However, the Rams declined to have Martz coach that game, and fired him on January 2, 2006.

During the seven years in which Martz was involved with the Rams, the team went to two of the franchise's three 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 season by any coach in the history of the NFL.

Recently, Martz has been honored by the Rho Alpha Mu Sigma Fraternity with his likeness on Mt. Rammore. Featured with Martz are other Rams and "Greatest Show on Turf" alums, Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce. Honorable mentions were given to Orlando Pace, Torry Holt, Ricky Proehl and Az-Zahir Hakim.

The Rams have had four head coaches and are 18–51 under Joe Vitt, Scott Linehan, Jim Haslett and Steve Spagnuolo since Martz left. Ironically, from 2005–2010, Martz has been with four different NFL teams.

NFL Head Coaching Record[edit | edit source]

Team Year Regular season Post-season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
STL 2000 10 6 0 .563 1st 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 .667 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 | edit source]

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, with expectations still high following the previous year's disaster, it appeared Martz's system was actually beginning to work, and 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 | edit source]

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 | edit source]

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 one of the worst in the NFL 28th in passing and 22nd in rushing despite having no significant injuries.[7] During the season, Martz's pass heavy play selection was openly questioned by the media and fans, and the Bears offense only improved after the week 8 bye when Martz was instructed to call a more balanced offense.[8] During the post season, Martz's play calling was once again widely criticized by fans and the media.[9] In particular, he called a half back pass during the NFC Divisional Playoff against the Seattle Seahawks while the Bears were in complete control of the game. The pass was intercepted and precipitated a strong comeback by the Seahawks, who ultimately lost the game. In the NFC Conference Championship Game, Martz allowed Todd Collins to play two offensive series at quarterback, despite the fact that Collins threw 5 interceptions in only two appearances during the regular season. Third string quarterback Caleb Hanie eventually replaced Collins in the game and nearly led the team to a remarkable comeback victory. However, with the Bears trailing the Green Bay Packers by 7 points, Martz called a wide receiver reverse on a critical 3rd and 3 during the 4th quarter. The play was a disaster and has been described as the worst play call in playoff history by ESPN's Bill Simmons.[10] Chicago native and ESPN writer/commentator Michael Wilbon has also been widely critical of Martz for both his play calling and selection of Todd Collins as 2nd string quarterback.[11][12]

References[edit | edit source]

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