Five Questions: Rams coach Mike Martz
Five Questions: Rams coach Mike Martz
By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
Sunday, Jun. 05 2005
The full-squad minicamp this weekend at Rams Park marks the unofficial
beginning of Mike Martz's sixth season as the team's coach. The Rams' former
offensive coordinator, Martz succeeded Dick Vermeil after the Super Bowl
victory over the Tennessee Titans in 2000. Martz has a 54-33 record (including
playoff games), which makes him the third-winningest coach in franchise
history. But Martz also has been a lightning rod for controversy and criticism
during his reign. This past week, he agreed to answer five questions from the
Q: You've picked up several veteran free agents who potentially could be
starters, including linebackers Chris Claiborne and Dexter Coakley. How do you
feel about the offseason moves?
A: This is probably as active as we've been. The combination of being able to
make a decision on a guy, then actually finish it off, has been excellent.
Identifying what you specifically need and then being able to get it is a big
The offseason hasn't ended yet, in terms of our procurement of talent. That
continues. But we had some bullet points that we had to meet, and we met them,
in our opinion. And after watching them on the field, at this point we're very
Q: What convinced you that Steven Jackson was ready in just his second NFL
season to take over for Marshall Faulk as the No. 1 running back?
A: I think it's important for Marshall more than for Steven to have Steven take
over. Marshall's role will be very significant. It's not limited. It's what he
wants it to be. But it's important for Marshall to get Steven in this role so
that he can mentor him and they can kind of feed off each other.
It allows us to use Marshall maybe even in a different role, too, out of the
backfield. Maybe both of them in the backfield. But the whole idea here is, as
soon as we made that decision, it's not an issue throughout the offseason for
anybody. Marshall suggested this during the (2004) season as a way of helping
Steven, so he's not always looking over his shoulder and makes one mistake and
he's coming out (of the game), that kind of thing. He's just ready to do it,
and Marshall's ready to have him step into that capacity. And yet, this could
be a 50-50 deal throughout the season.
Q: You've already handed the starting right tackle job to first-round draft
pick Alex Barron. Why make that commitment now, rather than have him prove it
on the field later?
A: For one reason and one reason only. When he comes in here and you say to
him, 'Listen, I know it's going to take you some time to develop. I know this
is hard, and you've got to earn this job.' ... On the offensive line, there's a
time line that guys kind of get into. They get into a comfort zone where,
'Certainly they can't expect me to learn all this and do this at a high level
So they have a pace, if you will, and an expectation level that we don't share.
The only way to move that up is to say, 'Hey, listen, it's on you. You've got
to get ready. You don't have a choice.' And that speeds up the learning curve
Q: Are there players on your roster that you feel are poised to have
A: A couple of interesting things have happened. No. 1, (former wide receiver)
Mike Furry on defense, we felt good about putting him over there (at safety)
and what he might be able to do. From what we've seen in the offseason so far,
I think he's worth getting excited about.
Tony Hargrove at defensive end ... I think between Tony Hargrove and Leonard
Little, with all the issues that Leonard had to live with and Tony kind of
going through some things in his personal life that he's been able to fight
through, these guys now have matured. With all these distractions gone, I think
those two guys as a pair could be significant.
The other guy on defense would be (tackle) Jimmy Kennedy. I think that he could
be absolutely devastating inside for us.
Q: Unless something changes in Arizona, you're going to go against Kurt Warner
in Week 2. Is that going to be a strange situation?
A: There's no question it's strange. I'm used to talking to him instead of
seeing him across the field. That'll be real hard. It's like playing one of
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