Tag:Mike Martz
Posted on: November 12, 2008 12:55 am
Edited on: November 13, 2008 12:19 am
 

Smashmouth!? Be Careful What You Wish For...

Coach Singletary, you asked for smashmouth football...and you got it.

After watching 8 games with Mike Martz at the helm of the offense, you had enough. You had the guts to bench J.T. O'Sullivan halfway through the Seattle game. Your first executive decision as a head coach. And then, you did the unthinkable Coach Sing. You told Martz that you wanted to run a more traditional smashmouth offense. An offense that settles around a power running attack and a short passing game...HUH!? Boooooring...at least from Coach Martz's perspective.

OK, I'm stretching a bit. After all, I just want the 49ers to start winning some football games. I like that you manned up and told Martz to run an offense that was a better fit for the personnel on offense. Let's see...the 49ers have an Pro Bowl caliber RB in Frank Gore. The offensive line is loaded with run blocking linemen. Your new(old) QB, Shaun Hill, is a conservative passer who won't make the big plays, but will emphasize ball security and manage the game better. Coach Sing, you've started the transformation that Nolan should've implemented at the beginning of the season. I applaude you for that, really I do! I can find excitement in the power running game. I can also find excitement in the short 5 yard pass that go for first down on a 3rd and 4. This is an offense that sustains drives to rest the defense.

Now it's game time! On the first field goal attempt, you were met by some resistance from Coach Martz. I like how you stood your ground and elected to kick the field goal. Your call Coach Sing. You also made some gutsy challenges that were not successful. That's OK. Those weren't the bone-headed Nolan-esqe challenges we Niner fans are accustomed to seeing.

Fast forward to the final 40 seconds. I commend Mike Martz for calling plays to get the offense to the 1 yard line. But this is where it gets a little fuzzy. It took a good 20 seconds to get lined up to spike the ball. Who's call was it to shift personnel at this most inopportune time? History would indicate that this was a Martz Mixup, but who knows? Then there was the final 2 run plays with 20 seconds left. This is how it went down...

2-1-goal - Frank Gore to the left tackle for no gain. Play was reviewed for runner down by contact. After review, the officials spotted the ball back at the 2 yard line for a 1 yard loss and reset the clock to 4 seconds.

3-1-goal - Michael Robinson up the middle for 1 yard. Game over.

Interesting set of play calls. I would have thought that with 20 seconds left that we would attempt some kind of pass play as not to run the clock down. Call it a hunch, but if Martz was still Martz, I believe he would've called pass plays on both plays regardless of success or failure. It's the Martz style. I am under the belief that because Martz was told to play "smashmouth" football, he was more conservative. Coach Sing, you called Martz out on this. You basically threw him under the bus. You said the decision to run was Martz's...and you didn't back him up on it. I'm going against the grain because most critics are calling Martz out on that call. But was it really Martz's call? He was just running smashmouth plays that you demanded and the offense didn't "finish".

I like that the team showed more physicality than in the past. I like the smashmouth approach. But Coach Sing, I must say that if this is what you want out of your offensive coordinator, then this is what you get. At any time during the game, you could've superceded Coach Martz's playcalling. That is your right as a head coach. You admitted that the team didn't finish. The bottom line is that if the play suceeded, then the coaching staff would be heroes. But it failed and you are just as accountable as Martz.

I like you Coach Sing. You showed a lot of promise on Monday. You changed many elements on this team to take advantage of the strengths and limit the weaknesses. You are growing into this role Coach Sing, and I applaude you for that. There is still a long way to go, but progress was made. Let's not fall into the same trap as Nolan. Players need to "finish", but coaches need to "finish" too. It's time to be accountable for the coaching as well.

 

Category: NFL
Posted on: November 5, 2008 3:36 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2008 8:02 pm
 

Mike Martz vs Cam Cameron...What Could've Been...

I write this regarding the frustrations I have with the 49ers offense this year. I look back in hindsight of all the decisions that Mike Nolan made for this once proud franchise and realize mistake after mistake, that this was a big one...a mistake that ultimately cost Nolan his job. In 3+ years with the 49ers, Nolan had a plan. That plan was to build a strong defense with a ball control offense. Over the course of the last 3 years, Nolan's failures led him to make stopgap decisions in key areas...decisions that got worse as time went on. Some of Nolan's most notable mistakes include the following...

1) Drafting of Alex Smith - Not completely Smith's fault as he had to work with a different coordinator every year. But Smith didn't show any resiliency like some other first round choices in the same position, i.e. Jason Campbell.

2) Promoting unknown Jeff Hostler to offensive coordinator after Norv Turner left. Bad, bad call. Nolan should've hired someone with experience because Nolan himself has little offensive knowledge.

3) Too many offensive coordinators - As mentioned above. There was never any stability on offense.

4) Defensive rankings never better than 25th.

5) Slow to develop talent - this is less notable from the outside. But why does it take almost 3 years before 2nd, 3rd and 4th round picks start to play? There are almost no immediate contributions from picks outside of the 1st round.

Now to the biggest mistake that finished Nolan's career as the head coach of the 49ers. Nolan's decision to hire Mike Martz.

This was definitely a head scratching move. While Martz has quite a resume developing one of the most lethal offenses that the NFL has ever seen (1999-2001 Rams), he was clearly a poor fit for the 49ers. I must admit, I was a bit naive about Martz. I thought Frank Gore would be the only thing to make the Martz offense work. But I was also worried because the Niners didn't have the QB and WR's to fit this system. Also, it's a whole NEW system to learn for the team. I was irritated because I felt Nolan hired Martz in haste. Nolan knew his time was short and thought he could overlook the personnel shortcomings on offense by hiring a big name coach. I'm OK with the big name part, but it has to be the right guy...like Norv Turner. Martz's offensive requires a precision, mistake free and most of all, decisive QB. It also requires speedy WR's who run precise routes. And finally, solid pass protection. You also need a stud RB with good hands. Frank Gore fits the bill, but the other pieces of the puzzle never fit. Nolan and Martz tried to band-aid the deficiencies with J.T. O'Sullivan at QB and Isaac Bruce at WR. Bruce played well enough, but doesn't have enough help. We all know where O'Sullivan is at right now. Martz's system is pass first and pass some more. This philosophy placed Nolan's defenses in terrible situations, especially when combined with Nolan's conservative approach on defense. Now Turner's system is much more simplified. Grind it out with a power running game with conservative passing. In short, run first, then pass. The combination of Turner's offense and Nolan's defense in its first year together was good enough for a 7-9 record.

So why Cam Cameron? Cameron was the offensive coordinator for the Chargers between 2002-2006. What is the signifigance? Norv Turner was the OC the previous year. So Cameron took over the offense in San Diego and left Norv Turner's offense principles intact. The stability that the system provided over the next 5 years produced LaDainian Tomlinson and Drew Brees (before the Saints). Besides philosophical similarities (the Niners are also familiar with Turner's system), there were also personnel similarities between the 2003 Chargers and 2008 49ers. The Chargers had Brees and we have Alex Smith. Brees would be entering his 3rd season and Smith would be in his 4th. LT would be entering his 3rd season and Gore would be entering his 4th. The Chargers would also have an athletic TE prospect in Antonio Gates. Who, at the time, was a virtual unknown with a lot of upside. The Niners would have Vernon Davis entering his 3rd year, a highly athletic prospect drafted 6th overall. It's also important to note that the Chargers were not working with any notable WR's at the time. David Boston was the biggest name but not the biggest producer. San Diego did not produce a 1,000 yard WR that year. So there are a lot of similarities between the 49ers entering this season and that 2003 Chargers team. The 2003 Chargers offense ranked 14th in total offense. So the canvas that Cameron would've had to work with this year would have been eerily similar, and possibly, the results as well. Currently, the 49ers are ranked 24th in offense under Martz's system. Martz did some good things early, but lack of adjustment and mistakes by his handpicked QB has cost this team dearly.

So, why didn't we hire Cameron? Nolan was so ecstatic by Martz's presence that he was pretty much hired on the spot. Cameron, who had just been let go by the Dolphins, was scheduled to interview with the 49ers two days later. That interview was cancelled when Martz was hired. Nolan, being on a short leash, viewed Martz as the saviour to the offense, team and Nolan's job. This was another great miscalculation by Nolan, and now Nolan is gone.

So how is Cameron doing? The Ravens picked up Cameron, Nolan's old team. The Ravens are ranked 19th in total offense and are doing it with a rookie QB (Joe Flacco) and a pair of rookie RBs (LeRon McClain/Ray Rice). The style of offense fits the defense. This could've been Nolan's plan, but now it belongs to the Raven's. The Raven's are 5-3 with their new head coach. The Raven's must be thankful that Cameron fell into their lap. On the other hand, the Niners are 2-6, and Nolan is out of the job...and soon Martz will be too.

Cam Cameron...what could've been. But hindsight is 20/20.

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 15, 2008 4:45 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2008 4:48 pm
 

Not Exactly The Greatest Show On Turf...

...But I like what I see!

While watching the 49ers at Seahawks yesterday, I caught myself doing something very strange. Every time Isaac Bruce made a play, I would catch myself chanting "Bruuuuuuuce". Much like what you would hear from Rams fans back in the "Greatest Show On Turf" days. That used to bug me quite a bit...only because Bruce had made so many plays AGAINST the 49ers in the past. I must admit, I wasn't a believer at first. I thought we could never execute Mike Martz's offense with the talent that we had...even with Bruce (age) and Bryant Johnson (Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald's bench warmer).

This game started out ugly enough, at least for the 49ers. The 49ers had blocked punt on the Seahawks 2nd possession. As fate would have it, Seahawks safety Jonathon Babineaux recoverd the ball and scrambled for a 1st down. This set up the 1st TD by Julius Jones. On the 49ers next possession, Frank Gore fumbled which began a mad 22 yard scramble in the opposite direction only to have Seattle recover for a TD. The game announcers liked it to the "Holy Roller", for me, it was the "Holy !#%^ Roller". This was the same kind of start the 49ers had against the Cardinals in week 1. So now I'm thinking to myself that the 49ers are out of this game. It didn't help that on the 49ers' next 2 scoring drives, they were limited to FGs. I mean, the NIners were moving the ball up and down the field, but you have to be able to "seal the deal".

Then it happened. A deep pass from J.T. O'Sullivan to Bruce good for 63 yards. it was reminiscent of the Martz's days with the Rams. Not only that. But the 49ers finished the drive with a 3 yard TD that DIDN'T involve Frank Gore. The 49ers looked like a passing team again! What choice did we have? The Seahawks did a good job of limiting Gore to 61 yards on 19 carries, forcing JTO to beat them. JTO did just that. I can't say that the Seahawks pass defense is soft. This is normally a strength for them. They have Marcus Trufant, Kelly Jennings, Brian Russell and Deon Grant back there. Those are some pretty big names. The 'Hawks also have All-pro Patrick Kerney and 1st round pick Lawrence Jackson who led a group that sacked JTO 8 TIMES! i have to credit JTO's resiliency on this. There were a few times where he may have been able to throw the ball away. But through all this, he protected the ball (as well as himself) and converted on key 3rd downs. I had to rub my eyes on more than several occasions because I wasn't used to seeing the 49ers do this for the past 3-4 years.

I also must extend credit to the Seahawks offense. Down to 2 healthy recievers, the Seahawks were able to move the ball effectively. They utilized play actions and draws to keep the 49er defense off balance. Rookie TE John Carlson and Julius Jones made plays...even though the 49ers KNEW that they were the offense's go-to guys. Then something else happened. The 49ers GENERATED TURNOVERS! The 49ers first TO of the season and delivered in a big way. 49ers Patrick Willis takes a deflected pass 85 yards for a score. Now if this didn't shift momentum, the interception by Walt Harris on the Seahawks next drive must have. This gave the ball back to the 49ers on the Seahawks 41. 4 plays later, the 49ers were in the end zone.

At this time, I knew the 49ers offense couldn't be stopped...and it showed BIG in OT. When the 49ers missed the FG at the end of regulation, I knew that all we needed to do was win the coin toss and the game was ours...and that's exactly how it finished. 49ers 33, Seahawks 30.

The 49ers did a lot of things well. They could use improvement on the offensive line and could use a little more pass rush. But the 49ers were able cut down on turnovers, generate turnovers, convert 3rd downs, and score TD inside the red zone. My biggest rants the last 2 weeks was the lack of turnovers on defense and red zone offense. The 49ers proved they are capable of both.

The "Greatest Show On Turf"? Maybe not, but if the 49ers keeps putting on shows like they did yesterday, then I'll be plenty happy.

Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
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