Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How Effective is Mike Martz as a Coach?

by Karl Berthold

How much influence has Martz on teams he either coached as HC or OC? Does he deserve all the bad criticisms? Or is he one of the better coaches?

Let the numbers speak for themselves.
Most important is of course the W-L column. So i put those numbers in the 1st section. Then I considered the points scored rank, the total yards gained rank, and last but not least the Y/PP-Offense rank.

I examined team stats before the arrival of Martz, when he coached the team (either as HC or OC), and what happened after he left town. I took 3 years in advance, the whole time when he was with the team, and what happened the 3 years after Martz. I guess the numbers would be around the same if i took 5, 4 or 2 years.

1.) St.Louis Rams

Before Martz:
1996; 6-10 (W-L), 20th (Pts scored) / 27th (Yds gained) / 29th (Y/PP-Offense)
1997; 5-11, 23/21/18
1998; 4-12, 24/27/26

That is 15 wins, 33 losses (.313 Winning-Pct.). Avg.-League-Ranks: 22.3 rank in Points scored, 25th in Yards gained, 24.3 rank in Y/PP.
So the last three teams before the arrival of Martz didn´t even win 1/3 of the games and had a well below average offense.

With Martz:
1999; 13-3, 1/1/1
2000; 10-6, 1/1/1
2001; 14-2, 1/1/1
2002; 7-9, 23/13/12
2003; 12-4, 2/9/10
2004; 8-8, 19/6/10
2005; 6-10, 11/9/10

70-42 W-L (.625 Wng.-Pct.). Avg.-League-Ranks: 8.3 rank in points, 5.7 rank in yards, 6.4 rank in Y/PP.
That is a sensational turnaround in his first year. It happened with an Ex-WLAF-QB (named Kurt Warner) who was unknown and unemployed, completley missed by the 30 other teams in the NFL. And it was not a one year wonder as many expected. No, Martz kept things going on a high level until at least 2003 (missing the Superbowl with some strange End-Game-Tactics vs. Carolina. Well, nobody is perfect) and with a last playoff hurrah in 2004, before the heart problems set in. He managed to do this with more unproven, fired/late drafted QBs turned into NFL-Starters (Bulger, Fitzpatrick). After 20 years of unsuccessful Football, the Rams were competitive for 6 1/2 years.

After Martz:
2006; 8-8, 10/6/10
2007; 3-13, 28/24/27
2008; 2-14, 30/27/29

Avg´s: .271 Wng.-Pct. (13-35 W-L), 22.7 rank in points, 19th in yards, 22nd in Y/PP.

After Linehan lived off one more year of the inherited Martz-Team, it only took him another season to completely "wreck" one of the better franchises of the early 2000s. This franchise still has not recovered in the year 2010, they are at the old Pre-Martz-Level.

The Rams did...
With Martz: Avg. 10 wins per season
Before/After Martz: Avg. 4,7 wins per season
The "Martz-Factor" over his Predecessors/Successors is + 5,3 wins per season !

2.) Detroit Lions

Before Martz:
2003; 5-11, 26/32/29
2004; 6-10, 24/24/25
2005; 5-11, 28/27/26

Avg´s: .333 Wng.-Pct. (16-32 W-L), 26th in points, 27.7 rank in yards, 26.7 rank in Y/PP.

With Martz:
2006; 3-13, 21/22/18
2007; 7-9, 16/19/17

Avg´s: .313 Wng.-Pct. (10-22 W-L), 18.5 rank in points, 20.5 rank in yards, 17.5 rank in Y/PP

It should be considered that the Defense ranked next-next to last in 2006, and dead last in 2007 in points against. So it´s questionable why the OC got released after only two seasons, when the Defense was the true problem.

What Martz did is, he got rid of the Millen-Picked-Failure, QB Joey Harrington and tried his luck with another Ex-WLAF-QB, Jon Kitna. By giving and trusting him to the Starter-Spot, he prolonged his career until today. After only one season, the Offense brought Detroit back to the winning paths (despite the "no show" of the Defense), which were missing in this city for 7 straight years.

After Martz:
2008; 0-16, 27/30/27
2009; 2-14, 27/26/29
2010; 2-9, 12/15/29

Avg´s; .093 Wng.-Pct. which might be the worst ever over a 3-Year-Span (4-39 W-L), 22nd in points, 23.7 rank in yards, 28.3 rank in Y/PP

After the "Scapegoat-Firing" of Martz, the absolute once and for all destruction set in. Detroit finished as the first 0-16 team ever. The suffering of this complete meltdown still continues in 2010.

The Lions did...
With Martz: Avg. 5 wins per season
Before/After Martz: Avg. 3,5 wins per season (the 2010-Season is projected to a full season)
The "Martz-Factor" over his Predecessors/Successors is + 1,5 wins per season !

3.) SF 49ers

Before Martz:
2005; 4-12, 30/32/32
2006; 7-9, 24/26/23
2007; 5-11,32/32/32

Avg´s: .333 Wng.-Pct. (16-32 W-L), 28.7 rank in points, 30th in yards, 29th in Y/PP. This Offense really needed urgent help.

With Martz:
2008; 7-9 (.438 Wng.-Pct.), 22/23/19

Even tough Martz struggled after Singletary took over, who didn´t like Martz´ aggresive play calling, the numbers improved dramatically. Another important note is that Singletary forced Martz to use Hill as the Starting-QB after Martz begun the season with yet another unproven Ex-WLAF-QB, J.T. O´Sullivan. All that dissention make the Offense improvement even more impressive. It was obvious that the Ex-Linebacker got rid of Martz after one season, especially because Singletary wanted to install a "Smash Mouth" running first Offense. Where that all led to can be read in the 49ers-W-L-Column of 2010.

After Martz:
2009; 8-8, 18/27/24
2010; 4-7, 31/23/24

Avg´s: .444 Wng.-Pct. (12-15), 24.5 rank in points, 25th in yards, 24th in Y/PP

The soon Ex-HC, Mr. "Smash Mouth" Singletary brought all things back to Pre-Martz standards, after a promising (Offensive) Start in 2008.

The 49ers did...
With Martz: Avg. 7 wins per season
Before/After Martz: Avg. 6 wins per season (the 2010 Season is projected to a full season)
The "Martz-Factor" over his Predecessors/Successors is + 1 win per season !

Chicago Bears

Before Martz:
2007; 7-9, 18/27/23
2008; 9-7, 14/26/24
2009; 7-9, 19/23/19

Avg´s: .479 Wng.-Pct. (23-25), 17th in points, 25.3 rank in yards, 22nd in Y/PP

That´s the first time Martz was signed to a competitive team, where only the offense needed improvement.

With Martz:
2010; 8-3 (.727 Wng.-Pct.), 22nd in points, 28th in yards, 25th in Y/PP

So far, that is a strange season for Martz standards. The Offense numbers are down compared to his predecessors, yet the team improved dramatically in the W-L-Column. It seems the sheer presence of Martz works magic... Jokes aside, it´s highly possible that the offensive numbers will improve over the last weeks, as they have already in recent weeks. While Martz searched for his passing game in the basement, the No. 2 (points allowed) respectively No. 3 (Y/PP) ranked Defense kept "Da Bears" alive. Maybe in February, if luck and randomness favour the Bears, and after all things are sorted out by the "Mad Professor", the Combo Martz/Smith reaches another Superbowl. Nine years after the unlucky loss to New England.


(All numbers for 2010 are projected for 16 games)
(* by League Rank)

So what i see is that with Martz as HC or OC, franchises win on average around 3 more games than without him, even tough with 3 of 4 franchises he was only responsible for 50% of the team**.
If I look at the 11 total seasons***, the difference is about 4 more wins per Season. Even tough he was responsible for only 50% of the team in 5 of 11 seasons (each one with the Rams, Bears, 49ers, two with the Lions).
I would say his true value lays somewhere in the middle between the "Franchise-Avg." and the "Total-Seasons-Avg.".
What also is remarkable other than the influence on winning, is that franchises with him rank 5 (11 if we look at the total seasons) spots higher in points scored; 6 (13) spots higher in yards gained; and 8 (14) spots higher in Y/PP than his Predecessors/Successors.
I don´t know how good all that is, but it looks pretty impressive. Somewhere in a League with Bill Belichick. Bizarrely Martz got all the criticism over the years, because the pundits of the 70s still think passing is evil, and you have to establish the run first. Luckily writers of the (mainstream) press don´t hand out NFL-Coaching jobs, but the team owners who are in desperate need of some offensive magic.
So the next time Martz calls 18 passes and 1 run at the beginning of a game (like he did with the Rams vs. the Lions in 2001), everybody should know his team is clicking. No need to assault him, but to applaud him for agressive play calling.

** Avg. per Franchise. Example: Avg. (Wins) (10 + 5 + 7 + 11.6 divided by 4 franchises Martz was with = 8,4)
*** Avg. per every season with Martz as HC or OC. Example: Totals (Wins) (13 + 10 + 14 + 7 + 12 + 8 + 6 + 3 + 7 + 7 + 11,6 projected for 2010 = 98,6 divided by 11 seasons Martz was HC or OC = 9,0)
So the Avg. per Season favours Martz, because 7 of 11 seasons were with the high powered Rams.
The Avg. per Franchise "hurt" Martz, because the successful stint with the Rams has the same weight as his single year with the 49ers, for example.


Bruce D. said...

Nice analysis,

Very interesting.

I admit I was a doubter, but you converted me.

It's great when someone can open your eyes and show valid reasons why your own preconceived notions could be all wrong.

Jim Glass said...

An interesting read, thanks. It sure seems that Martz knows offense.

Brian Burke said...

Great job, Karl. I wonder, however, how much of the Martz-effect is due to regression to the mean. When new coaches are brought in to a team, it's usually because the team had previously been at a low point, and it's much easier to improve than to decline.

I'd suggest as a next step, we compare Martz's before-and-after record to a standard for HCs and OCs. For example, say the average new OC sees an improvement of x games, and Martz had a y-game improvement. Therefore, Martz is better than average by y-x.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bruce, Jim and Brian...

It would be great to compare Martz to other coaches. My problem is (as i wrote to you) i can´t calculate SD, Regression and Correlation (i havn´t studied statistics). But i see we came to the same conclusions (about the importance of efficient passing, randomness, luck etc.).

I understand your point Brian: It´s easier to make worse teams better (to the mean), but what i also see is that after Martz left teams, they fell back to their old (low) level.

What i also see is that the "Martz-Factor" got lesser from team to team. That could be either opposing teams figured him out or that the sample size with the 49ers and Bears is to small. I guess (but don´t predict :-)), that in the last games and especially the next year the Bears Offense will improve.

Greetings, Karl from Germany

SportsGuy said...

As a Lions fan I devoted some study time to this too.

I would propose that some of the decline in St Louis and Detroit after Martz left had to do with issues where weaker personalities had a hard time dealing with players used to Martz and his system.

Linehan tried hard to accommodate the offensive gripes even to the extent of changing the route numbering scheme back to Martz's.

In Detroit Martz was followed by Jim Coletto. Things got so bad that season that Jon Kitna started yelling at Coletto and the staff during games. While he was on the field. Once even while getting ready to bark out signals in the shotgun.

Jon Kitna is one of the NFL's high character guys. Ex-teammates are nearly universal in praise. For Kitna to act like that things had to be pretty bad. And I'm convinced that part of the reason is the effect Martz has on many players.

ScoWes said...

Something to consider to is the effect Martz has on his QB's in the area of sacks & knockdowns.

I remember hearing the 'talking heads' repeatedly saying Martz's QBs take a beating because of the amount of 'scat'/empty pass protections he runs. This is bound to lead to more hits on the QB, and lessen his effectiveness as the season goes along I would expect.

Another thing missing is the fact that an offense & defense must 'mesh' style wise. Martz's schemes don't do overly well with weaker defenses because it puts them on the field more often I would expect is we take into account time of possession. This would be a big factor in his demise in Detroit & San Fran.

This is one of the major failing Rich Rodriguez is having as the Michigan head coach. The offense is running a no-huddle hurry-up offense with a weak defense behind it. This increases the length of game for BOTH units, and a weak or inexperienced defense will give up more points for sure.

Bigmouth said...

You are way too kind to Martz. How has he been anything but an abject failure this year with the Bears? They're still close to last in the league in team offense, and Cutler isn't in the top 20 of QBs after being in the top 10 twice with the Broncos.

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