Okay, it's official. No, seriously - it's in the paper today
. Former St. Louis Rams head coach Mike Martz has signed a three-year agreement to be the offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions football club. (In accordance with this hiring, and its supposed officialness, I will retire all Honolulu Blue ball jokes until, well, the NFL draft.)
Many of my blogging brethren have spoken (or written) on the end of Lions fans' long national nightmare. Here's a gift bag of opinions for you to sample. Some are suspicious, such as Beyond Boxscores
Conversely, we all realize that Martz brings baggage. He was serious ill most of this past off-season. We know he really covets the title of head coach, not offensive coordinator. Like most supposed geniuses, Martz lets his concepts get in the way of common sense from time to time. Martz' quirkiness (is that a word?) was revealed to all during this on again, off again negotiation process. These are all things that make you wonder why the Lions pursued Martz so hard.Greg Eno
is cautiously optimistic:
Mike Martz is the Lions' employee today, but we don't know for how long or with how much success. The official introduction hasn't even occurred yet, and already there are whispers that Martz is merely using this gig as a springboard to another head coaching job -- which could come as early as 2007. That gives Martz one season to take the Lions' offense from the dregs of the league to somewhere near respectable.The Wayne Fontes Experience
is succinctly relieved:
We can FINALLY move on with all our lives...House of 21 Thieves
seems unhealthily (though understandably) optimistic:
Has there ever been a more talented but consistently underperforming group than Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, Mike Williams, Marcus Pollard, and Kevin Jones? On paper, that team should KILL ANYONE THAT COMES NEAR IT. Hopefully Martz can give their talent an outlet and Marinelli can give their spirit a lift.
And Kevin Antcliff keeps it all in perspective:
Who gives a crap about me making a life change to extend my time on this earth and with my family when there is FINALLY some REAL news to report out of Allen Park??
Just as soon as I decided to stop caring, what do the Lions go and do? Yup, they hire Mike Martz to be the offensive coordinator.
What more can I add? I'm kind of a modest guy, so I don't want to toot my own horn, but, well, okay:
Until the Lions hire someone else to be their offensive coordinator... I wouldn't say this deal is dead. Negotiations have fallen through and come back together before. (Hell, it happened with Matt Millen.)
-- Sweaty Men Endeavors 02/03/06
Oh, c'mon. I was lucky. Broken clock right twice a day. Sun shining on a dog's butt. That sort of thing. Call it a hunch. Or maybe just too much familiarity with the dysfunctional hiring practices of the Matt Millen regime. Or maybe I have a little too much experience with high-maintenance personalities.
It's certainly notable how much enthusiasm was dampened by the will-they-or-won't-they soap opera between the Lions and Martz. Had this deal been sealed last week, while Detroit was flush with Super Bowl excitement, it would've seemed perfect. But maybe it's good that this wasn't handled perfectly.
The Lions now realize that Martz is, well, probably a little looney. And maybe a bit of a drama queen. So Sgt. Marinelli will probably be wearing his steel-toed
combat boots around the team's headquarters - just in case. And by backloading the deal, the Lions have presumably given Martz a reason to reconsider doing the one-and-done thing
So now we can get down to some serious fantasizing. And hey, that's normal. Martz has been having the same thoughts, telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
that the Lions job "was really the only coordinator's job out there that I thought would be very exciting for me." For me, I know I'll be alternating dreams of the woman from those Mercury car commercials
feeding me fried chicken with visions of the Lions lined up in three-receiver sets with Kevin Jones motioning out of the backfield and Joey Harrington throwing downfield on 1st-and-10.
And that brings us to the next big question surrounding the Lions: Is Joey staying or going? Some, such as the Detroit Lions Weblog
, think Martz's wide-open system, in which protecting the quarterback seems an afterthought, means the end of Joey in Detroit. But did Joey throw quickly to avoid a sack because that's the way Marty Mornhinweg and Steve Mariucci coached him? Or does he really have a fear of getting hit? The Sports Inferno's
Mike Valenti believes Martz's hiring means that Joey's staying. And others, such as the Sports Dude
, have pointed out that sheer economics will likely keep Joey in Honolulu Blue (with black accents).
If you read Sweaty Men Endeavors
during this past Lions season, or have had the misfortune of asking me about it in person, you know how I feel. I still believe there's an NFL quarterback in Joey Harrington, but he was repressed by Mariucci's horribly restrictive coaching. And I'm guessing that Matt Millen feels the same way. Despite saying otherwise, I think he hired a coach that was willing to work with the talent he'd already collected. In turn, Rod Marinelli hired an offensive coordinator who could make the most of the quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers on the roster. I don't think Martz would've been hired if he believed Harrington couldn't play in his system. Now, Marinelli can leave Martz alone to work his magic on the Lions' offense, while he and Donnie Henderson retool the defense.
So what are the chances I'll follow my own advice
and detox from the Lions until the NFL Draft? I need a break from the Ford Field Follies. You guys probably need (or want) one, too. There's good basketball and hockey to watch around here. And pretty soon, catchers' mitts will start popping in Florida and Arizona. I'll try to let my mind drift to other sports over the next couple of months. It's best for my mental health. But it won't be easy.
Man, I wish I knew how to quit the Lions.(Photo by Tom Pidgeon/ Getty Images)