Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Feb 2006

Martz Won't Join Lions

Gee, big surprise, the Lions have botched something. This time it was the hiring of Mike Martz, who declined their offer to become offensive coordinator because they couldn't meet his financial terms. Of course, if Matt Millen hadn't given Steve Mariucci a ridiculous contract with $25 million guaranteed, the Lions would have more money to pay their assistants. Have I ever mentioned that I don't think highly of Millen?

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 02 Feb 2006

31 comments, Last at 03 Feb 2006, 11:31pm by NF


by Kal (not verified) :: Thu, 02/02/2006 - 9:11pm

One more indicator that the Ford family isn't willing to do what it takes to make the Lions into a quality organization.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 02/02/2006 - 9:25pm

Gee whiz, you mean a deal isn't a deal until all parties have agreed on compensation? Who da' thunk it?!

by DMP (not verified) :: Thu, 02/02/2006 - 9:31pm

Wow, for one day they had the fanbase getting excited yet again for the potential of "next year". I know I was curious to see what was going to happen with Martz OC. I would say this is bad, but then I'm reminded of Mitch Albom's column about not thinking of anything with these Lions as a "new low". It is only a matter of time until the next "new low" supplants the most current "new low".

#1: It's not as if the Ford's haven't spent a lot of money. Mariucci, Millen, Charlie Rogers, Bly, Woody all got big-money contracts. It's not the unwillingness to spend that shows the Ford's can't do what it takes to be good, it's that they don't KNOW what to do to be good.

by Kal (not verified) :: Thu, 02/02/2006 - 9:43pm

Oh I know they're willing to spend money. What they're not willing to do is to actually take the kinds of actions that lead to success. Hiring Martz might have done so - especially as OC. Not hiring him almost certainly will not.

Perhaps it is that they don't know what the right thing to do is. I think that's probably clear from Millen's continued existence.

by Squib (not verified) :: Thu, 02/02/2006 - 10:24pm

They always manage to screw themselves

by Harris (not verified) :: Thu, 02/02/2006 - 10:43pm

The Detroit Lions: We never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

by Jason (not verified) :: Thu, 02/02/2006 - 10:50pm

For as much heat as Daniel Snyder has taken, atleast he is willing to put up the cash to get what he wants. Not a good sign for Detroit when the OC their head coach wants won't join them because the organization will not pay him enough

by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Thu, 02/02/2006 - 11:13pm

So, Michael David Smith, you don't like Matt Millen? Is this accurate?

by Manteo (not verified) :: Thu, 02/02/2006 - 11:19pm

Sounds like Martz wasn't too amped up about it anyway - he sorta seems indifferent to whether or not he works this year, and if I were in his situation I'd probably feel the same.

Seems like he thought the position would be nice, but if the Lions weren't going to put up the dough he wasn't going to think twice about passing it up. He certainly doesn't give the impression of having been very engaged in the whole thing.

by Marcus (not verified) :: Thu, 02/02/2006 - 11:31pm

How much are they paying Marinelli anyway? ESPN reports that Martz wanted a three-year deal worth around $1.5 million per year. So, I'm just wondering if the Lions balked because he wanted to be paid near (or, perhaps even more) than the head coach.

by Ruben (not verified) :: Thu, 02/02/2006 - 11:34pm

Jason: I think Snyder, the Fords and the Bidwills all suffer from the same problem: They want to pay for THIS season, not 3 seasons from now (Kraft, Chargers, Broncs).

The Cards will sign ANY Super Bowl MVP or Pro Bowler, even if everyone in football agrees that player is overrated/was benefited by the rest of the team (Dexter Jackson, Duante Starks, Emmit Smith), and not sign or re-sign mid-range players who can be developed.

This leads to my theory of the Bidwill Curse: Any player who is good or moderate before coming to the Cards will stink on toast when they get to Tempe; and any players who are good or moderate and start on the Cards will be rewarded with a trip to the Super or Pro Bowls on their next UFA team (Aneas Williams, Simeon Rice, Jake Plummer (?), former-first-round-bust Thomas Jones, Kyle-freakin'-Vanden Bosch, the list goes on).

Until this year, Snyder was the same; he came around, maybe the Fords and Bidwills will...?

by Gregg (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 12:03am

As much as heat as Millen rightfully takes, the fact that everything got public ahead of time is more likely because of Martz. Jim Thomas at the Post-Dispatch was basically reporting the whole thing as fact yesterday. I'm not defending Millen necessarily, but Martz was looking to make nearly the same as Rod Marinelli.

by Show (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 1:21am

Does anyone else see this as a problem in the near future? Guys with obvious talent (such as Martz) will demand huge contracts for cordinator positions because Daniel Snyder has skewed the market. Of course most teams don't want to pay assistants 1.5M a year, but the big money hirings of Gregg Williams and Al Saunders set a new precident that most teams will not be able to meet.

I guess what I'm asking is does anyone besides me feel that qualified coaches turning down OC or DC jobs because they feel they are worth more (essentially "holding out") becoming a trend in the future?

by Gregg (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 1:34am

I think a guy like Martz can pick and choose what he wants to do. He just got a big settlement from the Rams. He doesn't need the money and he's a unique spot that he can feel fairly confident he'll get something of equal or better value next year. There aren't many coaches up for coordinator jobs like that.

10- Marinelli is reportedly getting $2 million a year for five years.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 5:10am

Regarding Martz... it must take a certain amount of humility to go from head coach to coordinator... especially when you're working for someone you don't know and you have more experience with. The Lions, and no one else is to blame for the situation. If you don't have the money to pay for your assistant coaches, maybe you shouldn't be in the football business.

Snyder's only signing this year was Rabach. Snyder didn't really change his ways. No one has talked about the signings of Randy Thomas, Marcus Washington, Shawn Springs, Clinton Portis (extension), Mark Brunell, Cornellius Griffin, Santana Moss (extension), because they worked. He still isn't afraid to go out and get who his coach wants. The system was probably another factor, as the team changed from the Stephen Davis Martyball, to Steve Spurrier fun and gun, and now the Joe Gibbs team.

I have no doubt Snyder will do all he can to signs whoever his coach asks for..

by Potomac .Drainage Basin Indigenous Person (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 6:19am

Apparently making $72.6 million and losing is much better than making $72.1 million and winning. The NFL is like hollywood, where blockbusters make some loot and so do bad movies.

by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 8:18am

I don't think there's any comparison between the Redskins' front office and the Lions' front office. Yes, the Redskins have wasted money on some players, most notably the huge contract to Deion Sanders, but they've also made some very good moves. Millen has just been one failure after another.

by MRH (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 11:02am

Let me see - Al Saunders, a fine man and excellent offensive coordinator with no proven ability to develop a qb signs for $2M/yr but the Lions are not willing to pay $1.5M/yr for Mike Martz who won a SB as an OC and went to another as a HC and who developed Trent Green, Kurt Warner, and Mark Bulger from nothing (8th rd pick, undrafted, 6th rd pick respectively)?

If Martz were asking more than Saunders he'd be justified. Less is a fair price.

by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 12:36pm

I doubt that any team in the NFL would hire Mike Martz as its offensive coordinator for 2006 for $1.5 million. I am talking specifically about Mike Martz, not Al Saunders or anybody else. That means that if Mike Martz is demanding $1.5 million to be an OC, he is necessarily demanding above market rate. That's fine; it simply means that he won't be an OC in 2006. But let's not pretend that the Lions are being cheap by not paying him that much money. If they're being cheap, so is every other team in the NFL for exactly the same reason.

by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 1:12pm

CA, every other team isn't in the position the Lions are in, which is why the Lions have to act differently than every other team. The Lions have spent a Top 10 pick on a quarterback and three receivers the last four years, yet they still have one of the league's worst passing games. That means they desperately need a good passing-game coach. They need Mike Martz more than any other team needs him, which means they should be willing to spend more for him than any other team is willing to spend for him.

by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 1:57pm

Re 20:

The Lions have spent a Top 10 pick on a quarterback and three receivers the last four years, yet they still have one of the league’s worst passing games. That means they desperately need a good passing-game coach.

Or that those guys aren't as talented as they once seemed. I am not convinced by any means that the Lions' passing problems come down to poor coordination, schemes, or coaching. As much as I liked all three of the receivers coming out of college (as if I'm qualified to judge prospects), the more I see of the Lions, the more I'm starting to think that they and I were wrong about all of them, even Roy Williams.

That said, if you assume that the talent is there and that it isn't being utilized properly, you have a point. But I think if the Lions thought that Martz could add that much value to the team and were willing to pay him that much money, then they should have offered him the head coaching job, not the coordinator gig. The Lions probably could have had Martz as head coach and Marinelli as DC (if Martz would have accepted him) for cheaper than Martz as OC and Marinelli as head coach.

by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 2:53pm

I agree, they should have hired Martz as head coach. But since they didn't, they should have hired him as offensive coordinator. And they failed in their attempt to do that. Which is another illustration of why it sucks to be a Lions fan.

by Dman (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 3:01pm

Am I the only one here thinking "gee, if they fired millen they'd have the money for martz"? I disagree that martz should have been the HC, but I think he's a brilliant OC and this is obviously a bad move.

by HLF (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 3:07pm

I was never a fan of his game management skills a HC, but anyone who thinks Martz has not demonstrated offensive "genius" in play design and QB/WR developement is Millen-like in their astuteness (smile).

No chance of changing my moniker this year (sigh).

Hopeless Lions Fan

by David (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 3:07pm

#21, if that's the case, then they desperately need someone who can evaluate offensive talent. Since that's one of Martz's best-regarded skills, well...

by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 4:36pm

I've heard some reports that it may not really have been about the money.

Anyway, Marinelli is already on record as saying he wanted a "smash-mouth" style of football and Martz doesn't bring that. I think Martz's system would work great with the talent in Detroit but for some reason almost every defensive-minded coach would rather have a ball control offense that doesn't lose games.

Also, if you were Martz, would you go to work for Detroit and Matt Millen under less than ideal circumstances? Maybe he wanted more control over the offense than Merinelli and Millen were willing to give?

Oh well, this might hasten the departure of Millen, which might be good for the league but bad for Chicago and every other team in the North.

by Goober King (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 5:57pm

Am I the only one who thinks "Merinelli, Millen, & Martz" sounds like a great name for a law firm?

by Justus (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 6:01pm

#13 - How has Snyder skewed the market for coordinators? It was Monte Kiffin and the Bucs who skewed the market for coordinators when they paid him head coach money after their Superbowl. Then the Eagles topped that when they decided to pay Jim Johnson even more than Kiffin.

If Heimerdinger gets paid $1.2 million as the Jets OC why shouldn't teams be willing to pay assistants $1.5 million a year for someone like Martz who has a vastly better track record?

by Gregg (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 6:42pm

The Lions reportedly haven't given up. The Post-Dispatch, on Friday afternoon, say they are trying to get him to reconsider.

by Ned Macey :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 8:48pm

Maybe I have Millen-like evaluation skills, but the Rams have not been in the top ten in offensive DVOA since 2001, and only once have they even been an above-average offense. Is it possible people have figured out the offense?

The only other explanation is the constant quarterback injuries, but that is a product of his system. I certainly think he's worth the shot given the 1999-2001 success, but I wouldn't break the bank for him or more importantly give a guy with his ego too much control.

by NF (not verified) :: Fri, 02/03/2006 - 11:31pm

If Al Davis actually could see past his massive ego, he'd hire Mike Sherman as head coach and Mike Martz as offensive coordinator. There is no way the Oakland offense doesn't light it up every Sunday with the talent and that coaching. However, if Al Davis wanted to do this, he'd probably already have done so. My impression is that experienced NFL coordinators and head coaches avoid taking jobs in Oakland. Al Davis should just give up the pretense and coach the team himself if he wants to micromanage it.

That's what I think about Al Davis, and I'm not even a fan of any teams in that division. I think he does more to make his team worse than Matt Millen does, but I also think nobody cares because he has managed to drive away 90% of all Oakland fans over the last 25 years. Really, look at what has happened to the Oakland Raiders since their wild card Super Bowl win in 1981.

I guess the only point of this is to try to cheer up Detroit fans by saying it could be worse.