By Bernie Miklasz
Of the Post-Dispatch
Wednesday, Jan. 12 2005

It's one of the NFL's most underrated coaching rivalries, Mike Martz vs Jim
Mora Their egos will meet again in the NFC playoffs on Saturday night in
Atlanta, and let's hope the Georgia Dome has the space to accommodate all of
this, uh, confidence.

Our mention of the Martz-Mora egos should not be misinterpreted as a slur. If
Martz and Mora weren't saturated with self-esteem and competitive vanity,
they'd be just two X's and O's guys with no soul. Their teams would be dull,
and out of the playoffs.

Mora seems to know this. He might not be president of the Martz Fan Club, but
apparently sits on the board of directors.

"I love that he's always in the attack mode," Mora said. "He's always thinking,
'Go for it.' And I respect that. He's not conservative in his approach, and he
loves to go for it. His team embodies that feel of, 'Here we go. Let's not
worry about the other team. Let's take care of us, let's go, let's attack.'
I've always been impressed with that mentality. You might call it arrogance. I
call it confidence."

The Rams were the worst possible combination - awful and bland - before Martz
arrived in 1999, to crank up the offense and reboot the franchise. After
spending the last five seasons as San Francisco's defensive coordinator, Mora
came to Atlanta as the new head coach and gave the Falcons an immediate
personality makeover.

Mora isn't bashful. His biography in the Atlanta media guide stops just short
of declaring that he'll do for the Falcons what Ted Turner did for cable TV. In
citing influences, Mora checks so many big names - including Bill Walsh, Don
Coryell, Bobby Beathard, Steve Mariucci, Ernie Zampese, Dan Fouts, Steve Young,
Kellen Winslow, Charlie Joiner, Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Jerry Rice and Rod
Woodson - you wonder how the Falcons lost five games this season.

Mora even insists on lavishing his musical taste on the players and citizens of
Atlanta by selecting the pregame music at the Georgia Dome. "Tell the Rams
players I'll have a good mix for their pregame," he said.

In his first NFL game as head coach, Mora faced the ***** and told some of his
former Niners players to conduct themselves as pros, and quit yapping. The next
day, during a live show on the NFL Network, in-studio analyst Jim Mora Sr.
instructed Jim Jr. to coach his own team from now on.

With no disrespect to the senior Mora, junior Mora is more like Son of Martz in
that both are ****y coaches. After the ***** slowed the Rams in a 2002 win,
Mora chirped about how his defense was faster than Martz's offense. Martz
didn't like the comment, but don't expect any brash talk. This week Martz has
assumed the role of the bemused, approving elder.

"I've had great respect for Jim," Martz said. "I always felt he'd make an
outstanding head coach. This is his time. He deserves it and he's done a great
job with it."

Martz made sure to point out two things: He doesn't know Mora personally, and
the Falcons are running the defense that coordinator Ed Donatell brought from
Green Bay. Be it Mora's or Donatell's, the defense limited Martz's offense to
17 points in Atlanta's victory on Sept. 19.

Martz's offense has gone against Mora's defense 11 times since the start of the
1999 season. In winning eight of those 11, Martz's "Greatest Show" averaged 375
yards and 26.8 points. But the edge could be shifting; Mora has won three of
the last five. And in the three losses, Martz's offense has averaged 13.3
points.

"I love putting a defense that I prepared up against an offense that he
prepared, because in my opinion he's the best - the most innovative mind in
football," Mora said.

Saturday night in Atlanta, Mora can do what few defensive minds have
accomplished: brain-drain Martz for the second time in a season. If it happens,
Mora might build a statue of himself outside the Georgia Dome.