Martz, Turner on the griddle one week in

Updated: September 16, 2005, 4:12 PM ET
By Ray Ratto | Special to ESPN.com

One of the great things about paying attention to the National Football League (other than the point spreads, I mean) is the fact that there is way too much time between games.

That way, we can bloviate frantically on any topic, useful or otherwise, until good people like you pay to have their ears sealed with Bondo.

Therefore, it is already well past time to play that hardy old perennial, Coaches In Trouble.

That's right, after one game. That's right, after one loss. That's right, because we have nothing better to do. And don't knock nothing better to do until you've tried it.

Anyway, let's get to it. Mike Martz and Norv Turner.

Now we never advocate people losing their jobs, just because these are treacherous times even in the double-knits-and-vinyl-sweatsuits business. Regular work is damned hard to come by, and try getting a job with full medical, dental and vision. You'd be better off robbing stagecoaches full-time.

Martz has always been the league's favorite coaching piñata, because he does goofy stuff like challenging the opening kickoff. We know this, because he did it Sunday in San Francisco.
But the NFL season in based on rhythms, and those rhythms do not change. A game has been played, and both credit and blame must assessed.

Coaches in particular are victims of this hamster-wheel news cycle, and thus are wedged into one of two sizes: Stephen Hawking or Wal-Mart greeter, whether they deserve it or not.

Thus, Mike Martz and Norv Turner.

Martz has always been the league's favorite coaching piñata, because he does goofy stuff like challenging the opening kickoff. We know this, because he did it Sunday in San Francisco.

Now let's be clear here. He had 59 minutes and 59 seconds left to play, which seems a sufficient amount of time to try and figure out a way to beat last year's Worst In Show, but he decided to make this his first big decision of the new year.

Oh, and the Rams lost to the 49ers, 28-25.

Not a good start by any means, but you have to give the Rams credit for trying to divert the heat from Martz by offering an alternative, director of football administration Samir Suleiman.

Suleiman took exception to a column written by the serial author and notorious troublemaker Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in which he decried the amount of backstabbing within the organization.

In fact, he took exception by suggesting that backstabbing was not the Ram way, but throat-slashing was, especially to people who talked to serial authors and notorious troublemakers like Miklasz.

Well, there have been no severed heads reported at Rams Way, but nobody's talking about Martz anymore, either. Still, if there is a lack of organizational support for the head coach already, Suleiman's compositional gifts seem more like a hint that doom is in the air than a ringing endorsement of the owl-faced coach.

In short, he's a Coach In Trouble.

Turner, on the other hand, makes the list because the new, improved and freshly-Mossed Raiders got schooled in New England last Thursday, and because he works for Al Davis.

Turner, on the other hand, makes the list because the new, improved and freshly-Mossed Raiders got schooled in New England last Thursday, and because he works for Al Davis.
Judging by Davis' demeanor in the locker room after that loss, and by his historical plane-ride-home dissertations on coaching shortcomings, it seems reasonable to conclude that a loss Sunday night against Kansas City (which apparently will be blacked out in the Bay Area because there are still thousands of unsold tickets) would get the storm clouds gathering in Davis' mighty head. He can do the math easily enough -- 0-2, going into Philadelphia, then home against Dallas ...

Plus, this is Turner's second year, which has been the typical tenure of the struggling coach since the Raiders moved back north. Mike White got two years, averaging 7½ wins per. Joe Bugel got one. Jon Gruden got four, but he did slip three playoff appearances into the party. Bill Callahan got two, and a player mutiny, and Turner is now 5-12.

In short, he's a Coach In Trouble too.

I'm sure we could find others; typically these drive-bys run five-deep because the space must be filled and the beast must be fed. But Martz and Turner are the ones most in jeopardy unless they can figure out a way to win games and thereby beat the reaper.

You see, that's the other thing. It's early yet. We will be able to add other names as the season goes on, because the NFL season is 107 off-days long between the season opener and the Super Bowl, and America's got nothing but time.

But this will get you started, anyway, until you can make your own contributions. And remember, there are only 90 shopping days before the next cycle, The Coaches In Trouble Replacement Series, begins.

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle has been a longtime contributor to ESPN.com

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