Barry: Martz or Not, Lions Must Play Smart

Lions defensive coordinator Joe Barry discusses stopping Mike Martz and the San Francisco 49ers offense.

If you didn't know any better, you might assume that Mike Martz was playing quarterback, running back, receiver and offensive coordinator in Sunday's matchup between Detroit and San Francisco.

After all, he's the only one anybody is talking about.

Most questions since Detroit began preparing for its west coast trip have involved Martz, whether it was Jon Kitna's conference call with the San Francisco media, or 49ers' head coach (no, it isn't Martz) Mike Nolan discussing Martz's matchup with his offensive coordinator's former employer.

But the person concerned the most about Martz and the 49ers offense, led by former quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan? Defensive coordinator Joe Barry, whose responsibility is quelling San Francisco's big-play offense -- and ensuring that the Lions don't fall behind (again) early in the contest.

The concern is that Martz, who thrives on the big play (especially deep crossing patterns) will take advantage of Detroit's susceptible defense -- which has developed a reputation already in allowing what the coaching staff calls "explosion" plays.

Barry was able to scrimmage against Martz in practices last year, where the "Mad Scientist" would often throw curve balls at a Detroit defense that was porous in 2007.

"I think to a point you can't get out of whack with the fact that we're going against a guy that was here for two years," said Barry on Thursday. "And I don't think we can do that either. ‘Remember that one day in practice when he did this? Remember that one day in practice when he did that?' You can't get out of whack.

"You just have to go and play your game. They're going to play their game, and instead of worrying about them, we have to worry about us. We have to do our job. We have to go out and execute the call, read our keys and then finish every play. We can't get concerned with who the guy calling plays is."

Behind Martz, the 49ers have jumped into the top 10 of passing offenses in the league, including a 33-30 overtime win over struggling Seattle. With an offense loaded with talent, and a capable running back in the backfield, many analysts think San Fran is full of potential.

They also said the same thing about Detroit the last two seasons. Like his days in the Motor City (and in St. Louis), Martz's playcalling is leaving his quarterback exposed. The 49ers have already given up a league-worst 12 sacks, which might give the Lions defensive line opportunities.

"Not to say anything that's never been said before, that's something that we preach and we talk about all the time," said Barry. "This week is no different than any week. We have to put pressure on the quarterback with our four-man rush, but that doesn't change. We put a lot on our defensive line week in and week out, and this week's no different.

"They have to rush this week."

Regardless, Barry had the general idea of what to expect.

"Mike Martz is going to attack like he always does," he said. "And Mike Martz, in this offense that he has, has weapons. J.T. (O'Sullivan), who I think the world of, did a great job for us last year in the times that he was called on. Isaac Bruce, a Hall of Famer; I think they have a great back in (Frank) Gore; rock solid offensive line.

"They have the Joe Staley kid who was a first-rounder a couple years ago playing at left tackle, so they have plenty of weapons. They have Vernon Davis who was a top-10 pick at tight end, so they have a lot of weapons, and we're just going to have to go out and do our job and play harder than them."

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