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Marty ball is a philosophy of football associated with and named after former NFL and UFL head coach Marty Schottenheimer. In simple terms, it means a focus on the running game, with passing used only to further the running game.
Schottenheimer emphasizes offensive attacks that work as follows:
- First down: a rushing play
- Second down: another rushing play
- Third down: a pass attempt
- Fourth down: punt (or field goal, if within range)
Fans (and critics) refer to this scheme as "run, run, pass, punt". Schottenheimer is considered to be a conservatively minded coach with the majority of his focus on defense. The term "Marty ball" is generally considered a pejorative because, at times, Schottenheimer would steadfastly continue to emphasize this form of offense while attempting to hold onto a small lead or when playing from behind—often without success.
In terms of regular season play in the NFL, Schottenheimer often ran Marty ball successfully. During his coaching career with the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers, Schottenheimer compiled a 200-126-1 record. His teams won eight division titles, made 13 trips to the NFL playoffs, and reached the AFC Championship Game three times. He failed to successfully execute Marty ball in the postseason, where he has a 6-13 record and never reached the Super Bowl. Schottenheimer is the only head coach in NFL history with at least 200 wins to have a losing playoff record.
Despite never reaching the Super Bowl, Schottenheimer has won a pro football title of sorts as a head coach. In 2011, he guided the United Football League’s Virginia Destroyers to the league championship, defeating the Las Vegas Locomotives in the title game. Schottenheimer’s Destroyers were powered offensively by running back Dominic Rhodes, who was also the UFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2011.