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Column: Millen has to do all he can to retain Martz
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
By Tom Kowalski
ALLEN PARK -- Detroit Lions president Matt Millen needs to talk to a couple of people first, and then he has to make an offer that offensive coordinator Mark Martz cannot refuse.
The first person Millen must talk to is quarterback Jon Kitna, the undisputed veteran leader of the offense. The first -- and really only -- question Millen must ask is this: If Martz takes a head coaching job in the off-season, how much will it damage the growth and potential success of the Lions' offense?
Kitna would likely tell Millen what he suspects already: that losing Martz will be devastating. It's not just the X's and O's of the offense; any other coach could pick that up and do a decent job coaching it. No, it's everything else that goes with it.
Martz is unique in four areas and Kitna, a 10-year veteran, is well aware of it. First, Martz is an incredible teacher who digs deep when it comes to attention to detail. Second, he's excellent at dissecting a defense and coming up with a solid game plan. Third, he has a tremendous feel for the rhythm of games and makes great adjustments and play calls.
Fourth, and most importantly, Martz gives the players something few coaches can: Unquestioned confidence in his ability to do the right thing. Kitna has complete faith in Martz, and that's something that trickles down to his teammates.
One of the key plays in Detroit's 30-14 win against the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday came on the Lions' first drive of the third quarter. They led by only three points and there were some uneasy feelings in Ford Field about another possible second-half collapse. Those thoughts were fueled by a pass incompletion on first down, which was nowhere near the target, and an eight-yard sack on second down.
Facing a third-and-18 against a 5-2 team that was desperate to get back into the game, Kitna fired a 21-yard pass to wide receiver Mike Furrey for the first down. The Lions moved downfield to kick a field goal and showed they weren't going to fold.
If Martz leaves, that confidence from the players will begin to wither. Is Martz the only good offensive coordinator in the league? Of course not, but he's the best one for the Lions right now because the team has spent a full year learning his system and some of the talent -- such as Furrey -- has been brought in specifically for this scheme.
Confirmed in his beliefs about Martz, Millen must move on to his next conversation, with head coach Rod Marinelli.
Millen has to tell Marinelli: "I'm going to throw a ton of money at Martz so we can keep him here for a couple of years -- and he'll likely make a lot more money than you. Are you cool with that?"
If Marinelli says yes -- and there's no reason to believe he wouldn't -- then it's time for Millen to dial up owner William Clay Ford.
Millen's pitch: "Mr. Ford, we're going to be paying Steve Mariucci $5 million in 2007 NOT to coach. Is it so crazy to throw $5 million at Martz to keep him and actually give us a chance to win?"
Say what you want about Ford, but he has never hesitated about spending money when he thought it would give the Lions a chance to be a Super Bowl contender. Remember, the question isn't whether Martz is worth the money, it's whether the Lions can afford to lose him.
With Marinelli spending so much time getting the defense right, Martz is basically running the entire offense. Sure, Marinelli makes all the final decisions, but he's leaning heavily on Martz's knowledge and experience when it comes to the offense. It would be highly unusual for a coordinator to make more money than his head coach, but that's no reason not to make it happen.
This real issue is that Martz has the ability to get out of his contract if he takes a head coaching job, so the Lions have to do whatever they can to entice him to stay. Maybe Martz is going to leave no matter what, but Millen should make it a very tough decision.
Sure, there's a chance Martz won't get offered a job in the off-season but are the Lions really in the position to take that kind of risk?
Like all head coaches, Marinelli has a huge ego, but he's also smart enough to know that Martz gives him the best chance to be successful. Why do you think he hired him in the first place? Not many people wanted to take a chance on Martz, not after his dust-ups with the St. Louis Rams front office. But Marinelli thought he was worth the gamble and, so far, the evidence is that it could pay off big.
But to get the big payoff, the Lions have to make a big investment of their own. Millen better act before it's too late.
Re: Column: Millen has to do all he can to retain MartzThird, he has a tremendous feel for the rhythm of games and makes great adjustments and play calls.
He will get another chance as a HC, I don't think more money will make him stay. If his Smartz he will wait for a team that has a chance, not so sure AZ is the right team.
Last edited by Rambos; -11-10-2006 at 04:14 PM.
Re: Column: Millen has to do all he can to retain Martz
"Third, he has a tremendous feel for the rhythm of games and makes great adjustments and play calls."
LOL when exactly did he pick up this skill? I would have to say the exact opposite was usually true. After reading that I'm convinced that Kowlaski guy was hired by Martz's agent to write that article.
-11-12-2006 #4BigGameMN Guest
Re: Column: Millen has to do all he can to retain Martz
I don't think money will keep Martz in Detroit. He wants to be a HC, and I don't think any amount of money will keep him from that as long as their is a good job out there for him.