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    Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)

    MARTZ IS THE RIGHT MAN... WITH A FEW CHANGES
    Wednesday, December 22
    17:20:54 CST

    CHAOS OF DEFEAT PERMEATES RAMS PARK

    PART ONE

    MARTZ MUST LOOK IN MIRROR AND OVER HIS SHOULDER…

    Rarely does a week pass during the waning months of a given calendar year without Dick Vermeil becoming the topic of conversation.

    Vermeil has become the modern day Whitey Herzog. The blemishes of his tenure as coach of the St. Louis Rams have been precisely masked by much of the media and fans.

    Until this past MLB season, there was an annual plea for “Whitey’s Return.” Despite the fact that Herzog failed to reach the playoffs in consecutive years, despite enduring some horrendous seasons while holding the reins, despite conceding a season to the New York Mets in May and despite quitting on his team and players in the end… Whitey is a local legend whose memory is etched into the cranium of Cardinals fans with positive connotations.

    Vermeil, who was crucified, by media and fans after the 1998 season, miraculously transformed into an adorable mentor with a heart. Vermeil won over the fans and media only after tasting from the cup of success. Before the 1999 season, Vermeil was classified as an emotional wreck. He drove his players too hard. He refused to change with the times, he stuck by certain players and coaches to a fault, he was too focused on crunching statistics, and had lost touch with “the game.”

    After winning the 1999 Super Bowl, those in the media (and fans) that called for his dismissal after the ’98 campaign were preaching from the Vermeil Bible. Suddenly, Vermeil was the prophet sent down by the God’s in football Valhalla. The same media and fans that took him to task just 12 months earlier were now delivering roses to Rams Park in eulogy after he announced his retirement.

    Entering the 2004 season, regardless of nearly upsetting a superior Atlanta Braves team in the 1996 NL playoffs, earning three playoff trips in four years… Tony LaRussa was grilled and heckled because he didn’t win enough, he didn't win the right way, he played the game differently than “Whitey” and happened to have an eclectic lifestyle with the audacity to provide care for animals instead of blowing a frickin’ hole into creators and gutting them on weekends.

    Seven weeks removed from leading his team to the World Series, LaRussa is being painted very differently, by the same media and fans that called for his lynching on several occasions, all for winning just one more series than he had in two of the previous four seasons.

    Like LaRussa, Martz must not only succeed to earn respect, he must overcome the memory of a legend. The legend of Dick Vermeil. To be more exact, the memory of the “99 Vermeil" (not to be confused with the same man going by the same name wearing the same headsets that strolled the sidelines in '98).

    Vermeil hasn't won a playoff game since leaving St. Louis without Martz as a sidekick. His Chiefs (oh, BTW, with talent comparable if not better to the Rams) are on their way to their third non-winning season in four campaigns, but there are still those calling for his return.

    It's interesting that a division championship sandwiched by two seasons of subpar performance thanks in large part to devastating injuries has the media and fans seething. However always remember and never forget the facts... just three teams in the NFC (Philadelphia, Green Bay and Atlanta) have more wins than the Rams since 2002. As the old axiom goes, it's all relative; just three teams in the NFC have won more games than the Rams since 2002.

    While many in the media along with many fans holler aloud that the end of the world is near, the Rams still have a chance to earn consecutive playoff berths by winning their division this season.

    I hear media members imploring Martz to run, run, run the football with one breath while preaching that Marshall Faulk is no longer a difference maker all the while completely disregarding an offensive front that has been dismantled this season or Steven Jackson's health and lack of game-plan comprehension.

    Yes, Mike Martz has flaws, and there is no doubt that his actions can be defined as strange. However, his biggest liabilities are trust, communication, and honesty. Let me make this perfectly clear, Martz in the world of football is a genius. He is as creative a football-mind that I've witnessed, spoken with or covered. As an analyst and fan of the St. Louis Rams, I am completely confident in Martz as a tactician.

    The difference between Martz and Vermeil or Herzog for that matter is public perception and the media.

    There is no question that Vermeil is a superb coach, there is no doubt that Herzog is one of the best combination talent evaluator/bench managers to ever grace a dugout. Vermeil and Herzog are worthy of the reverence bestowed by sports fans... however never fail to remember that they too had "serious flaws."

    Martz must improve his ability to convince the masses he has their back. When players that have strong individual personalities that differ from his mindset, are alienated, problems fester to the point of explosion. Three sources at Rams Park relayed information relating to a meeting that took place between Martz and Kyle Turley last week that in fact exploded with **** bombs, loud exchanges and later a phone call to NFL security by Martz claiming that Turley had threatened him.

    The relationship between Martz and Turley became strained in the summer with the focal point of the animosity being Turley's back injury. Two common factors with Martz and players when relationships head south are on-the-field mistakes by pedestrian players and injuries.

    Martz is from the old school; the mindset is if you're able to walk, you're able to play. Turley is a modern-day athlete. Turley is tough as nails, but he is a thinking man and hence won't be drawn into the ways of days past. Simply watch the game tape, Turley will battle with the best, he will drain the tank but in doing so also realizes that, there is life after football. Turley has seen the errors of days past; he witnesses the warriors of yesteryear that now struggle to walk erect or without limp or lift an arm more than a few inches. Turley is also like most modern athletes with an appreciation for the financial aspects of the game. He realizes that if he's not 100% and capable of passing a physical next year, he's going to eat an injury settlement and leave millions of dollars on the table.

    In addition, Turley is a strong-willed individual that speaks his mind... and those that speak freely with a meaning different from the words that coincide with preaching's of Martz... well the bubbles appear atop the water quickly transforming from simmering to boiling.

    I'm sorry to damage Turley's reputation however, he's not the person many has conjured in their image bank. Turley is a well-spoken, emotional individual that thinks abstract with feelings. The appearance and body-fame might scream wild man, but in reality he is much more cerebral than crazed.

    In many ways Martz is the same way, he can exude arrogance, he can appear hard-core; he can be a micro-manager however he too is an extraordinarily intelligent and emotional individual.

    The difference... Martz is the leader; he is the one that must adjust. He is the one that must swallow pride, he is the one that must be creative in ways to lure players into the program he's selling, he is the one that must accept players as people and convince those people collectively that his way is in fact the right way.

    There are those that will say he did that with Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, and a few others. The fact is those are the same people that will miss the fact that the operative word is "few."

    Yes, there is no doubt that there is a caste system built into to every football team however it is my belief that Martz is blind to the fact that what was... isn't what is... because of time and change.

    Martz doesn't have the faithful following because too many of those that bought into the program five years ago have been replaced by those still hesitant to purchase.

    When Martz assumed control of this football program the aforementioned were the leaders of the team with an established cast that followed along. However, over time that cast has been splintered because the "chosen few" has rarely taken on new members.

    When Martz ridicules young players for mistakes burying them on the depth chart and/or setting them afloat for many of the same mistakes the "chosen few" perpetuates without being held accountable, the masses begin to meld and a division is formed.

    If you're going to financially fine Player A for breaking a rule that a "chosen one" also snapped... by not fining the "chosen one" you've lost respect with Player A.

    When Player B makes a blunder that costs the team and is ridiculed behind closed doors and publicly only to see the "chosen few" commit three penalties and fumble twice being protected publicly by the coach, the melding process hastens.

    There are a handful of players on this team that will go to the wall for Martz however those numbers are dwindling because of roster changeover with the remaining outcasts knowing that their next misstep will lead to disciplinary actions or dismissal while the "chosen few" are preordained with forgiveness.

    A top-notch wide receiver that can break open games is a sweet commodity however when the backups on the defensive side of the ball are sprinting to practice cognizant of time only to see that receiver lounging in the whirlpool and walking out to practice tardy... players take note.

    Simply stated, as Martz moves forward as the head coach, he must also advance as a communicator and as importantly a leader, which embraces the masses, not the chosen few.

    In addition, at some point and time, he must accept the fact that individuals respond differently to injuries. There is no question that the league has some frauds, players unwilling to endure the pain necessary to play the game. That noted, he must refine his sight when looking for the frauds as well as those that are all too willing to play when it's to the deterrent of the team and individual.

    Turley has a passion for football that is evident based on performance... for anybody to question his desire and/or manhood is rather foolish.

    Frankly, based on my sources, Adam Archuleta should've been shutdown long ago. I'm told he has difficulty bending over at his house and is virtually incapable of administrating the hits, which strikes fear in receivers let alone making a simple tackle. Archuleta still hasn't received a straight answer regarding the significance of his back injury and is told further tests will be taken at the end of the season. Archuleta isn't going to walk away from a given task, he needs to be saved. Somebody needs to say enough is enough... get them next season. There are younger players on this team seriously concerned that the coaching staff and management of this team lacks appreciation for the injured aside from the "chosen few" which now has the melding process of the outcasts moving at warp speed.

    I know for an absolute fact that many players want to reach out to their head coach however are too concerned about interpretation to do so for fear of repercussion. That's a shame, however Martz has nobody to blame but himself because of his refusal to offer a group hug that is as meaningful for the sixth defensive back as it is for his top two receivers.

    Therefore, as I mentioned, trust and communication are factors, in my assessment, that Martz must improve upon in order to fine-tune his game.

    That also includes interactions with his player-personnel department (that is a topic for part two of the issues that are building at Rams Park).

    The last of my perceived shortcomings of a head coach who has what it takes to rank among the best minds of his era... is honesty.

    To be more clear, honesty with the media in public settings.

    Too much information released to the masses is never a good thing, and all too often honesty is rarely accepted at face value and seemingly always placed under the microscope. In short, I think Martz is too honest in public settings.

    As I mentioned, Martz is an abstract thinker. He is a different breed. Frankly, I find him fascinating in many regards. While I'm by no means "close" to him, my conversations over the last two years have been enlightening many times leaving me wishing that time permitted extended conversations.

    That fact though is all too often he has opened the floodgates for criticism.

    Take his most recent press conference. Take two comments in particular that drew the ire of some in the media and many fans... relating to becoming unsettled by the play of Chris Chandler along with the role Marshall Faulk plays on game day.

    It seems the favorite topic of discussion in the St. Louis sports world is how can Martz admit being distracted on the sidelines? How can the head coach admit being thrown-off his game for a brief period?

    Well, it's a classic case of honesty biting you in the ass.

    Do you really think Martz is the first head coach to get sidetracked during a game? Frankly, I'd be shocked if one current coach in the NFL hasn't been sidetracked at least on a few occasions during his career.

    Simply stated, Martz set himself setup for criticism... and the masses obliged. While I appreciated the fact he was honest, it's unfortunate that the masses chose to feast on the "comment carcass."

    The second item on the "blitz Martz" campaign relates to him addressing the fact that Faulk has "pull" in deciding which running back is in the lineup. Once again, I was not surprised, but intrigued, that a player can determine his own fate along with his teammates on game day.

    Well, now the talk is all about not paying attention to which player is on the field, blah, blah, and blah.

    Number one, many of the same media that are now taking shots at Martz are the same people that have said time again that Faulk "is like having a coach on the field." I've heard numerous media members talk about the fact that Faulk has the greatest comprehension of the game of any player they've covered.

    If that is true, what is wrong having a say in personnel? If Faulk is like "having a coach on the field" or possessing incredible, game comprehension... why shouldn't he be heard from on the sidelines or in the huddle?

    Do you think Faulk is the first player to possess such freedom? Obviously that's not the case, the only difference is the fact that Martz was honest in sharing the fact.

    Do you really think that Martz is the first coach that failed to realize a certain player wasn't on the field in a given situation? I've heard broadcasters mention numerous times this season that a player wasn't on the field in a given situation with the position coach was taking a verbal lashing from the head coach. How many times have you watched a game witnessing a team calling a timeout to change personnel?

    Just asking, when a team has two few or too many players on the field isn't that lack of personnel awareness? How many times has the position coach or coordinator been chastised for the blunder without having the whole city insinuating that he's incompetent?

    What seems to be the two biggest stories of the week... to me are rather simplistic. What makes it amazing is that a head coach would admit publicly to such issues.

    Who is the blame... well Martz of course for two reasons: One being honest and two assuming that people can disseminate fact from fiction. The fact is these kinds of things happen on a weekly basis on the sidelines at nearly every NFL game... the fiction is that it only happens when Martz is involved.

    Now, of course, when the day comes that Martz becomes tight-lipped or offers canned responses... the media and fans will merge to insinuate that he is hiding something or boring or arrogant or all of the above.

    On the other side of the coin, when Martz is obviously willing to take shots for his actions, he also has proven all too willing to cover for others.

    Recently, Jason Shivers became a hot topic when the Chicago Bears snatched him from the practice squad. The masses once again wondered how could Martz let this happen.

    Well, the truth is that Martz wanted to keep Shivers (there were on-going discussions on the subject at Rams Park) however those in charge of the purse strings didn't want to take the hit. Had the Rams activated Shivers it would've accelerated his NFL experience and immediately raised his salary about $70,000 for next season (I don't understand the exact details hence I suggest e-mailing Howard Balzer or calling him at 1380, between 3:00-6:00, for a full explanation). While a source at Rams Park denied my assessment of the situation, I stand by my sources.

    Martz wanted to keep Shivers and he wanted to keep London Fletcher a few years back. Martz had to bear the blame of Fletcher's departure for years. If relenting to the wishes of your defensive coordinator or accepting upper management deciding he wasn't worth the money makes Martz guilty... well so be it.

    Lovie Smith wanted Jamie Duncan, he convinced Martz that Fletcher didn't fill his needs and that Duncan was better suited for his schemes. In addition, upper management waffled whether Fletcher fit their salary structure.

    There is no question that Martz has played a large role in some very questionable offensive (offensive players and terribly offensive blunders) draft selections however, the majority of the questionable defensive decisions can directly be attributed to Lovie Smith. Now that Smith has departed, the team is stuck with a few players that don't fit the current system and a few others that simply have proven incapable of competing at this level that began wilting on Smith's watch.

    In the case of Grant Wistrom, a million dollars led to his departure. The decision had little to do with Martz.

    Rams upper management decided he didn't fit their salary slotting. Without a shred of doubt, I guarantee had the Rams included an extra $1 million to Wistrom's signing bonus; he would've signed on the spot. Instead, Wistrom became one of the hottest free agents on the market landing a deal nearly four times what he would've signed for here in St. Louis.

    Yes, Martz's voice is loud and clear at Rams Park however, those that say he has complete control are completely mistaken.

    The problems at Rams Park run deep. The friction is greater than ever. Martz and Jay Zygmunt are at odds; Charley Armey is being locked out of personnel moves. Players are bickering with each other.

    The problems run the gamut from Marshall Faulk's dealings with Steven Jackson and some resentment in Faulk playing a large role in upper management giving in to releasing Kurt Warner... to position coaches on the run in fear they will be sacrificed at season's end, to second-tier players telling their agents... get me out of here.

    In part two, I'll explain in detail these issues, along with how Armey has been ostracized, why Dick Jauron is the reason for the friction between Martz and Zygmunt and why John Shaw is telling everybody what they want to hear without stepping up to demand unity.

    For the time being, I'll close with this fact, I remain 100% behind Martz. I contend he will win a Super Bowl with this organization. I contend he is a brilliant tactician and arguably, the main reason this team won a Super Bowl and participated in another.

    That noted, if Martz doesn't accept he must change, if he refuses to embrace those around him in the front office, regardless of what Shaw said earlier in the week, I'm not sure he'll have the chance to lead a team he has catapulted to the elite since returning in 1999.

    One year doesn't erase a superb six-year stay. If Martz wants to remain the head coach of the St. Louis Rams, I hope he looks in the mirror to realize that change can be positive and send a positive message to those surrounding him.

    From where I sit, Mike Martz is an asset both personally and professionally to St. Louis... as is Zygmunt and Armey. If these three men are so damn selfish that, they can't find common ground... shame on them. Shame on three extraordinarily talent individuals for robbing this city and this team a winning trifecta. Together these three built something special, and together these three are on the verge of tearing it down.

    For those that will bash my continued support of Martz allow me two quick points... chances are you're the same that criticized my support of LaRussa for the past four years and most importantly are same that wanted Vermeil's head on a platter prior to the 1998 season.

    Martz doesn't need to change his style of play or his aggressive schemes; he just needs to tweak a few things previously mentioned in this column. The Rams are the Rams because of the way Martz wants to play the game, now in order to succeed as an all-around head coach he needs to learn how to play the game inside the building after coming off the practice field.

    PART TWO WILL FOLLOW IN THE NEXT 24 TO 48 HOURS

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  2. #2
    rampete is offline Registered User
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    Re: Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)

    cohesive and an insightful article...a rarity in regards to hadley...

  3. #3
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)

    Indeed, I was rather surprised as well. About halfway through, I had to double check the source. I thought he brought up a lot of good points both positive and negative regarding Martz.
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    Re: Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)

    Nice try Hadley, but the fact is Martz has had his chances, and when the difference has been his on-field decisions, he has failed. What he did in Arizona was a microcosm of his overall abilities as a head coach. The GSOT is long since dead and his offenses can no longer carry the Rams. This team now plays on a margin that can not overcome Martz' shortcomings. The Rams need to go in a new direction.

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    Re: Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)

    ...I thought he brought up a lot of good points both positive and negative regarding Martz.
    in addition to that, he's managed to dispel some myths around ram park that martz is a control freak and that he is in full control of personnel matters...and that georgia's cache/shaw's calculator is...

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    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)

    Quote Originally Posted by rampete
    in addition to that, he's managed to dispel some myths around ram park that martz is a control freak and that he is in full control of personnel matters...and that georgia's cache/shaw's calculator is...
    I thought the comments about Martz wanting to keep Fletcher were interesting to say the least. If that's the case, imagine where the defense would be if Martz won that battle. I think Fletcher's presence would be enough to make a fairly noticable difference.
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    Re: Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)

    I also had to check the source of this article about 10 times Nick

    I think this is a very telling assesment and it hits the nail on the head on a lot of things. I see it has brought the expected responce, just as it said it would in the article, from those willing to throw a man away even with him not being broken.

    Sigh .................. I suppose even if it was brought out in a "colour me in book" it would still not wash LOL

    Looking forward to the next part


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    Re: Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)

    Hey Nick, its interesting that this thread does not have very many comments on it I wonder why?


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    Re: Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)

    My take - despite all the personnel changes and injuries, which is something every NFL Team struggles with, it comes down to Martzie.

    He has had the talent level to do great things in STL and has not delivered the goods. He refuses to change in a game that is all about change and taking advantage of mis-matches and opponent weaknesses.

    We need one more change....

    ARF

  10. #10
    Herdof Guest

    Re: Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)

    Wow. This is a VERY good article. I don't think Martz should be let go, either. We really need to go in a new direction. It's not 1999 anymore, we need to be able to play defense. I want that to be the main topic this offseason. We need to run the ball more, too.

    I say that we're slowing turning into a power game pending the defense gets an extreme makeover within two years.

  11. #11
    Herdof Guest

    Re: Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)

    Quote Originally Posted by AugustaRamFan
    He has had the talent level to do great things in STL and has not delivered the goods. He refuses to change in a game that is all about change and taking advantage of mis-matches and opponent weaknesses.

    We need one more change....

    ARF
    Do you really think that defensively we have had the talent level? I don't think so. :bored:

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    Re: Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)

    Hey Nick, its interesting that this thread does not have very many comments on it I wonder why?
    Because the continuation isn't out yet?

    But, since you seem to want comment on it...

    While many in the media along with many fans holler aloud that the end of the world is near, the Rams still have a chance to earn consecutive playoff berths by winning their division this season.
    When you get folks putting forth "playoff appearances" and "winning a division" (without CONTEXT) as evidence that a team's doing well... you're not getting the full picture, at best.

    The fact of the matter is that THIS is the progression, in context:

    1999 - Super Bowl victory
    (start Martz era)
    2000 - Best record in NFL; loss in round 1 playoffs
    2001 - Loss in Super Bowl
    2002 - No playoffs
    2003 - 12-4 record which masked the fact that the QB had a 1.0 TD to INT ratio. Despite the fact that the Defense took the ball away an INCREDIBLE amount of times, and with the telling stat that Wilkins' leg was almost off due to kicking so many FGs because the O couldn't score TDs in the Red Zone. Loss in round 1 playoffs when Martz shows he's gutless, and Bulger is exposed.
    2004 - IF playoffs, it's because a team could win the division with an 8-8 record. This team is far more hopeless than the 2002 bunch.

    That's the summation of Martz' tenure. As you can clearly see, there is a marked decline. Blame it on what you like; when a coach assumes a Super Bowl champion, his task is extremely difficult. He has nowhere "up" to go. Tough. That's the way it is. Hope you don't miss THIS fact, though... even Barry Switzer took his team to victory in the Super Bowl.. Martz couldn't even match Barry Switzer in keeping the team from free-fall after success (Hey, he was 3-4 years in the playoffs, with a victory in the SB.. 45-26 record). Now if that doesn't stick in anyone's craw, then maybe your craw ain't constructed right!

    Now. Glad you got some comment? LOL

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    Re: Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)

    Glad to see you here... welcome to the discussions!

    Do you really think that defensively we have had the talent level? I don't think so.
    I don't see a lot that's changed from last year's D that attacked the ball and kept us in games by taking the ball away.

    We lost Wistrom. We got a new DC, with a square peg in a round hole scheme.

    I think the latter is the biggest reason our D isn't performing well.

  14. #14
    Herdof Guest

    Re: Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)

    Quote Originally Posted by atcchris
    Glad to see you here... welcome to the discussions!



    I don't see a lot that's changed from last year's D that attacked the ball and kept us in games by taking the ball away.

    We lost Wistrom. We got a new DC, with a square peg in a round hole scheme.

    I think the latter is the biggest reason our D isn't performing well.
    True, but actually I speaking on the whole Martz Era. Slowly, they've let go our defensive playmakers and sticking servicable players in it thinking it wouldn't miss a beat. The poor drafts, especially defensive players, contributed to this.

    I call mulligan on this year's defense because of the transition from Lovie to Marmie.

  15. #15
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    Re: Hadley on Martz (long and pretty good)

    Well this definately spells out what I have been saying. WASTE. WASTE DUE TO THE INABILITY TO LEAD A TEAM LIKE A HEAD COACH SHOULD LEAD A TEAM. He should have been fired after the 2000 season and I cannot believe Shaw/Armey/Zygmunt didn't do so. They should be fired for aiding and abeting that waste of talent. Gawd damnit I am pissed because it is just as I suspected.
    So what do you all think now about the Rams 2000 defense? They forgot how to play football over the offseason OR the head coach did not know how to unify the team? Go ahead and somebody say injuries. Say it wasn't a waste of talent. Go ahead say it.

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