The Mike Martz Conundrum
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The Mike Martz Conundrum
Sports
Oct 30, 2002, 07:00
By Shaky http://www.nflfans.com

RAMSE-ZINEImagine you are Mike Martz, sitting in your quiet office this week at Rams Park. There is a lot on your mind, obviously. Lots of things have gone wrong. Before that, lots went right. Now you face the future. Short term, the rest of the season. Long term, where you go with the team for future seasons.
In my opinion, as "you" (Mike) face that whole, complex puzzle, you face a difficulty. You are required to deal with 2 divergent, almost contradictory realities:

1. You have always held a contrarian's view of the formula for success in the NFL. You believed that certain assumptions that coaches routinely hold could be challenged: traditional run/pass ratios, the value of a time out, the value of pushing players physically and mentally past certain, defineable burnt out points (Martz has very specific views on that)and the like. You came to the Rams believing that the traditional, received wisdom that is pretty much a consensus in the league needed to be challenged because it was too confining. So, you challenged those approaches ... and had a lot of success doing it!

2. You have been burned--a little bit at first, then more, and lately torched--by the reality of top-level NFL football. The apparent lesson from those torchings is that the league's traditional, received wisdom had some very important reasons for existing: it really is wise to run the football, to drill players into excellence, to protect your times out, etc. Everyone and her brother are telling you that you are a fool for flauting those traditional ways of doing things. You are finding yourself driven to make concessions, and some of those concessions are helping the team to recover.

OK, here's the conundrum: how do you keep faith with the vision that you believe in and which provided remarkable success while adjusting to the realities the significance of which you are beginning to recognize? Simultaneously, how do you adapt to the exigencies contained in the harsh lessons you have endured the last 10 months and not lose the very qualities that made your team special?

It is easily obvious that you need to adjust. Some redressing of the balance between the 2 areas of influence has to be achieved to succeed. Any moron can see that.

What is harder to do is to find the right balance. To adjust as far as you need to adjust but at the same time to hold on to what you need to hold on to.

Take, for example, the issue of Martz's "stubbornness." We look at Martz from the outside and shake our heads at his obtuseness. ZN cited below an example where Martz admitted to having been wrong in calling a play that required Irwin to make a tough read/block after little practice. We can, like ZN, note the honesty of the admission, but we also shake our heads at the stupidity of the call. How can you make that mistake? How can you leave a one-handed Tucker in there to deal with Michael Strahan? How can you just run your plays and demand execution with no thought about the difficulty of the execution given the game conditions?


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