Martz passes on critics

October 9, 2004

All Mike Martz has done is win 66 percent of his games, the same amount as the only current NFL coach whose bust resides in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Unlike Joe Gibbs, a three-time Super Bowl winner, Martz has yet to win the big game since becoming the St. Louis Rams' coach in 2000.

But that's not why Martz attracts more criticism than any consistently successful coach in memory.

The problem, as critics see it, involves Martz's penchant for passing more than any team in the league.

Just think how many Super Bowls the Rams might have won had Martz fed the ball to his running backs a little more, critics say.

"I don't know why it's such an issue," Martz said this week as the Rams prepared to visit the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. "It's not going to change now."

That kind of unrepentant attitude, paired with a 2-2 record this season, has only invited more griping.

The Rams actually attempted 11 more runs than passes during their 24-14 victory over San Francisco on Sunday. It was the second time in two seasons Martz called more runs than passes in a game.

Marshall Faulk finished with 121 yards rushing as the Rams moved to 26-0 when Faulk reaches triple digits on the ground.

"I've always been pragmatic," Martz said. "You've got to move the ball any way you can and get points on the board.

"The whole notion about balance is fine as long as you're winning."

Martz has won more than most. His four-plus years leading the Rams have produced two NFC West titles and a Super Bowl berth.

Starting with 2000, his season records are 10-6, 14-2, 7-9 and 12-4.

"I do feel good about the job that I'm doing," Martz said. "I'm encouraged that we're going to get better and that's how I see my job.

"You take a group of guys and you help them become maybe something that they didn't know or weren't sure they could be, whether it's a particular player or the whole team, and where that takes you, it takes you.

"That's the thrill in coaching for me, and in that respect I feel like I've been successful."

Martz, 53, still has time to win that Super Bowl. "I've got a lot of coaching left in this little body," he said, "so we'll see what happens."