Lions offensive coordinator Jim Colletto expects his predecessor, 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz, to be motivated when the teams meet Sunday in San Francisco.
"I think he'll be real fired up," Colletto said. "There's no question about that."
Most people in the Lions organization have played down the Martz angle. But Colletto shed a little light on what it was like around Lions headquarters late last season.
Colletto goes way back with Martz. When Colletto was the offensive coordinator at Arizona State in the late 1980s, Martz was his quarterbacks and receivers coach. While Martz was the Lions' offensive coordinator last year, Colletto was his offensive line coach. After the season, Colletto replaced Martz, and Martz went to San Francisco.
What was their relationship like?
"It was fine," Colletto said. "I don't know if it was real good at the end here. But I wish him well. He's got a lot more years in coaching. I don't. So I'll be watching him coach."
What wasn't real good at the end?
"It was not a real positive environment for Mike," Colletto said. "A lot of us, we didn't have a lot to do with ... We were just trying to get through the end of the season. It wasn't everybody buddy, buddy."
Before the season finale at Green Bay, ESPN reported Martz would be fired.
"There was a lot of turmoil in regards to the end of the season," Colletto said. "We go up to Green Bay and all the speculation, it was hard on him. I wouldn't have wanted to be in that environment. I've been there before with some of my head coaching duties."
"That's not the most pleasant place," Colletto continued. "A lot of times in this business, people don't know what to say at that time. It wasn't real comfortable."
Colletto said he had no extra motivation.
"I've done this a long time," Colletto said. "I don't get wrapped up in that stuff. That's irrelevant to me. We've been together a long time ago and won a Rose Bowl game together. I'm not even thinking about that."
The Lions aren't sure what to expect from Martz. He could hand off the ball to Frank Gore 50 times to prove he can run it. He could be balanced to show he can be balanced. Or he could have J.T. O'Sullivan, the Lions' backup quarterback last year, throw it all over the place to prove he can do it his way.
Martz's big thing is big plays, and the Lions' big weakness in their first two games has been big plays. Martz will know if he can put the Lions on their heels again - they have fallen behind, 21-0, in each of their first two games - he can get them out of the game plan they got rid of him to run.
But the Lions say they can't worry about that and can't try to use their knowledge of Martz too much.
"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," defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. "'Oh, well, 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've just got to go and play your game. They're going to play their game.
"Instead of worrying about them, we've got to worry about us. We've got to do our job. We've got 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."