Former NFL coach Mike Martz denied making harsh comments attributed to him in an upcoming book about whether rookie coach Sean McVay is capable of having an impact on second-year Rams quarterback Jared Goff.
In the book "Blitzed: Why NFL Teams Gamble on Starting Rookie Quarterbacks," due out in September, Martz was asked whether McVay can make a difference with Goff. Goff appeared in seven games last season under veteran coach Jeff Fisher. An excerpt of the book was obtained by ESPN.
"What is he, a couple of months older than Jared? They hired a buddy for Jared," Martz was quoted as saying in the book. "The NFL has nothing to do with being the friend or the buddy of the quarterback. You've got to coach them and work them hard with respect. But buddy? And this guy is a quarterback expert? An offensive expert? Wait a minute while I puke."
McVay was hired at the end of last season just before he turned 31, making him the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. Goff will turn 23 in October.
In an interview Tuesday on ESPN LA 710, Martz said the quote in its entirety was "not accurate."
"I would never say something like that. [The quote] was kind of embellished. It was a very short interview, and I think what I told [author Thomas George] was there's only a couple years' difference between them, and they probably brought him in because of his ability to communicate. With [Goff], you want somebody more his age, I guess. But all of that other garbage, I would never say something like that."
While McVay has only met Martz once, he said Tuesday that he respects what Martz acomplished in the game.
"You look at the production of offenses that he's been a part of. ... I don't know Coach Martz; I met him real quick at the combine a handful of years ago," McVay said Tuesday. "But I have a lot of respect for what he's accomplished and can't say anything but good things about what he's done and what kind of coach he is."
Thomas George, the author of the book, stands by his writing.
"At no point in a 48-minute phone interview on April 21st for 'Blitzed' did Mike Martz request any off the record comments or restrain from offering his strong opinions on a variety of NFL quarterbacking subjects, including Rams head coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff," George said in a statement. "His quotes in today's book excerpts on SBNation are completely, 100 percent accurate."
Martz was on the Rams' staff in the early 1990s, both before and after the team moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis. He was head coach from 2000 to 2005 in St. Louis after serving one season as offensive coordinator.
In the book, Martz also was quoted as expressing doubt that McVay could succeed with Goff simply because of his age.
"Right, he's going to be able to teach and handle and guide Jared through tough times because of all of his expertise and knowledge? Right. I'm not going to drink that Kool-Aid," Martz said.
In the ESPN LA 710 interview, Martz said McVay has the capability to lead the Rams. Los Angeles won four games last season, fired Fisher and hired McVay away from the Washington Redskins, where he worked as offensive coordinator for three seasons.
"It's a tough game played by tough people, and you have to be able to provide that kind of leadership," Martz said. "And if he has that kind of leadership, he'll be all right, he'll figure it out, but he's going to have to lean on enough people at game day. In a tough game, that's when he's going to have to be at his best. It sounds like he has the capability to do that, he's just going to have to get there real quick.
"I would say it's going to take him three years in the job to really feel like he kind of knows what's going on. At that point, if he's done a good job, he'll make it in the five years. But if not, it could be a disaster."
McVay knows his age makes him a target for criticism and says it's something he'll deal with. He's also aware of Martz's claim that the comments were taken out of context, and realizes that can happen.
If the quotes in the book are in fact accurate, McVay said everyone is entitled to their opinion.
"The bottom line is this: I've never been a head coach before; I haven't won a game. I haven't done anything. So it's going to be a great challenge," McVay said Tuesday. "We're confident with the guys we do have. I know that it's going to be a great learning curve, and I'm not going to pretend to have the answer to things I don't know.
"But what I am going to do is continue to look at myself critically, and try to be the best head coach and leader that I can be for this team and this organization."