After a report in the LA Times last night reported his imminent demise, it seems the split between the Detroit Lions and offensive coordinator Mike Martz is amicable.
Basically, the two sides came to the same conclusion in recent weeks: the experiment was over, and it was time for Martz to consider the available opportunities elsewhere in the league.
According to sources close to the situation, the announcement of a "firing," while possible, isn't necessarily accurate. It had been widely assumed that Martz's time in Detroit was transient, and regardless of what progress the team made in 2006, he would look for head coaching opportunities elsewhere.
Although he might not land a head coaching gig, Martz is certainly still a hot commodity -- already drawing interest from the San Francisco 49ers, whose stagnant offense and struggling quarterback Alex Smith (a young player whom the franchise has invested its future within) desperately require Martz's pedigree.
Martz also has many ties to California, where his coaching career began. The Lions, meanwhile, will tab receivers coach Kippy Brown as offensive coordinator.
Whether or not Brown retains that role throughout the off-season is unknown. What is known is that Brown's terminlogy is identical to Martz's, but his offensive philosophy should be more balanced.
Tensions have built between Martz, president Matt Millen, and to a degree, head coach Rod Marinelli since early in the season. And patience ran out several weeks ago, when Martz fell into his nasty habit of forfeiting the run.
The league record for fewest rushing attempts in a game is six, and this season alone, the team has managed games with seven, eight and nine -- losing each contest. While they currently rank eighth as a passing unit, they're 30th in rushing and in the lower half in total offense.
"I'm disappointed that we haven't achieved what I hoped we would," Martz said earlier this week, shrugging off reports that he might leave following Sunday's final game at Green Bay. "We've made good progress from last year. We really have. But not as much as I would have anticipated. So from that standpoint I'm disappointed, not in anything other than that.
"The only person to blame is myself, and that's how I feel about that."
Notes:An interesting subplot to Martz's dismissal should be the team's quarterback position. Just last week, Martz said veteran Jon Kitna would return as the starting signal caller in 2008. But with rookie Drew Stanton waiting in the wings, the team might opt for a fresh start -- and a fresh look -- next year.