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  1. #1
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    Burwell - Martz finally understands need for special teams

    Martz finally understands need for special teams
    By Bryan Burwell
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Apr. 30 2005

    So here we are at the start of May, deeply immersed in the flow of a bustling
    sports menu full of meaningful early-season baseball showdowns and riveting pro
    hoop playoffs. Yet somehow, your friendly neighborhood sports columnist found
    himself drawn to the friendly surroundings of Rams Park, where Mike Martz's
    newest flock of football disciples were gathered for a three-day indoctrination
    of their one-week-old professional football lives known as rookie mini-camp.

    Who knew that one of the most startling news events of the millennium would
    occur on a windy Saturday afternoon at a Rams mini-camp? In case you missed all
    the subtle signs that have transpired over the past few months leading us to
    this astonishing event, let me be the first to start spreading the
    earth-shattering news:

    In a remarkable turn of events, the Post-Dispatch has learned . . . (dramatic
    pause for gasping and swooning) . . . the Rams suddenly really care about
    special teams.

    THUD!!!!!!

    Ah yes, that peculiar loud noise would be the sound of all you devoted Mike
    Martz bashers falling off your couches this early Sunday morning.

    But I was there on the edge of the outdoor practice field Saturday when I not
    only heard Martz admit that one of his biggest past failings was ignoring
    special teams, but then produced tangible evidence that he has changed his evil
    ways.

    It began after the morning session of two-a-day workouts, when Martz began
    talking about the new collection of fast and aggressive young defenders and
    free agent pickups who have joined the Rams in recent weeks. From the veteran
    free agents to the most inexperienced rookie draftee, they all share one common
    trait - an ability to make plays on punt and kickoff teams.

    "That's a mistake I've made in the past when we've gone after defensive
    players," Martz said. "We've spent so much time looking for ability only on
    defense, but really didn't go into the next phase of that (special teams). You
    have to be equally significant on special teams. We made an issue of it this
    year both in free agency and the draft. So hopefully, we'll make a quantum
    leap."

    The Rams have nowhere to go but up. They ranked last in the NFC in punt
    returns, last in the conference in kickoff returns, last in the NFL in kick
    return defense and next-to-last in the league in punt return defense. Of
    course, Martz fired his third special teams coordinator (Mike Stock), and hired
    his fourth in six years (Bob Ligashesky). The funny thing is, the two things
    that all of Ligashesky's predecessors shared were that they were all good
    before they got here and immediately regained their sterling coaching
    reputations once they left.

    Yet over the past few months, Martz has certainly provided plenty of evidence
    that he finally figured out that maybe it wasn't those dearly departed coaches
    who were screwing things up. In a remarkable turn of events, he hired an extra
    special teams coach (Charles Bankins), then went on a shopping spree where he
    insisted on finding people who know how to play on punt and kick returns.

    Did you notice that every defensive veteran free agent signed so far has an
    extensive special teams resume? Did you notice that Martz decided to allow
    DeJuan Groce, a brilliant collegiate punt returner who returned five punts for
    TDs, to get another crack at the job? Did you notice that the two latest
    veteran pickups, Terry Fair (an accomplished punt and kick return man) and
    Corey Ivy (the special teams MVP on Tampa Bay's Super Bowl team), know their
    way around the special teams field?

    "The coaches have all let us know how big a deal they're going to be," said
    second-round draft pick Ron Bartell, the big defensive back from Howard. "And
    from what we've all heard, we all know based on how poor special teams were in
    the past, that's going to be the surest way to get and keep a job around here."

    ClanRam ModCast: Episode Four
    Rams Discussion Right at Your Fingertips!



  2. #2
    psycho9985's Avatar
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    Re: Burwell - Martz finally understands need for special teams

    Being very good in all phases of the game is what gets you over the top.Glad Martz has finaly made that a priority.:ramlogo:
    My heart beats crazy and my blood runs wild

  3. #3
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    Re: Burwell - Martz finally understands need for special teams

    While the old adage "better late than never" certainly is true.....it should not have taken this long. It's a no brainer.....if one looks back to the Superbowl season, how long does it take to realize what a HUGE part special teams played for us?! I'd say about two seconds. :bored:
    Clannie Nominee for ClanRam's Thickest Poster

  4. #4
    ramstiles's Avatar
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    Re: Burwell - Martz finally understands need for special teams

    I think martz thought his teams were good enough without worrying about ST he now knows that all back up players need to be good on ST about time

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