Mike Martz, the mad, offensive scientist behind the St. Louis Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf," has announced that he plans to retire. His announcement comes shortly after he and the Chicago Bears --who employed him the last two seasons -- decided it was mutually beneficial to part ways.
The reports that I read had Martz claiming he was retiring "to pursue other opportunities." I don't know if this means he has something else up his sleeve that we don't know about, or if it just means he just bought a new boat and plans on getting full use out of it. To this point, I haven't heard. But when you're considered one of the better offensive minds in the NFL, I don't know what other opportunities he would be considering that weren't football related.
As a Chicago Bears fan, I've seen Martz at work the last few years. Additionally, I watched the Rams during his tenure, as well as his time with the Detroit Lions --given their divisional similarity to the Bears. In watching those teams, I never really knew what to think about his style. I'll attest to not knowing close to what there is to know about the deep intricacies of the game. But in terms of basic, statistical results, I was never knocked over by what I saw. When my confidence would start to waiver, I would find myself calling back and saying "but he ran 'the Greatest Show on Turf.'" It was rarely a testament to what his current offense was doing. This doesn't mean I thought he was a bad coach/coordinator, I just never got the feeling that I was watching a legendary coach at work.
To his credit, the Bears offense began to look dangerous prior to the injuries of Jay Cutler and Matt Forte. Because of that success, I was hoping he would have another year with the Bears. No matter what I thought about his image and ability, he was getting those basic, statistical results. I'm not claiming that "the Greatest Show on Turf" was Martz's only successful run, but there were plenty of years where he was running extremely mediocre offenses. Since leaving the Rams after the 2005 season, the best ranking a Martz-led offense had was 16th in points and 19th in yards ('07 Lions). The Rams years weren't all as glorious either.
No one is going to have stellar results every season. I just always kind of felt Martz wasn't the best at playing to the strengths of the players he had. He had his model --for better or worse. While a team certainly has to buy in to that model, a great coach should be able to scheme based on his players strengths, not what he wants to run.
All things being equal, Martz always seemed like a genuinely nice guy. Combine that with his successes, I hope he enjoys his retirement and those other "opportunites" -- whatever those may be.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Bears fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed the NFL throughout.