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  1. #1
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    An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

    Bernie Miklasz
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    12/25/2004

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz



    Calling John Shaw ... paging Mr. John Shaw ... please call Rams Park, Mr. Shaw, there's an emergency ... paging team president John Shaw ...

    Only Shaw can save the Rams, just as he did a long time ago.

    To preserve the future, the Rams must learn from their past.

    Let us return to the early days of January, 1999.

    The Rams had just staggered through a dull, disastrous and depressing 4-12 season. The offense was stagnant, the defense was limp and head coach Dick Vermeil was disoriented.

    Shaw summoned Vermeil to Los Angeles for a meeting in the team's Century City offices. The goal: Lead the lost Rams out of the darkness and into the new century.

    Shaw gave Vermeil a list of things to do: Hire a new offensive coordinator, get a new quarterback, locate some playmakers and cut back on the marathon practices to improve locker-room morale.

    Nudged by Shaw, Vermeil hired Mike Martz to design a new offense. Tony Banks was fired, replaced at quarterback by free agent Trent Green. The Rams parted with a couple of token draft picks to pilfer future Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk from Indianapolis. And the ensuing results were of fairy-tale dimensions, too preposterous to predict. Shaw's intervention led to a 14-2 regular season, then a Super Bowl championship.

    And now, nearly six years later, Shaw must step in and do it again. It's the only chance the Rams have for peace and prosperity in the immediate future.

    If anything, Shaw has even more to do now. In early 1999, Shaw had to rehabilitate only one football man, Vermeil. But now Shaw has to find a way to put three personalities back together again.

    Shaw must mediate the front-office battle between president of football operations Jay Zygmunt, general manager Charley Armey and Martz, the head coach and would-be CEO.

    The Rams have a dysfunctional front office, contaminated by distrust and paranoia.

    The Zygmunt-Martz relationship, once so warm, has turned cold. Armey is out of the loop; his authority has been reduced to that of a glorified scout. The three wise men spend too much time worrying about what the others are saying, and doing, behind the scenes.

    No wonder the Rams are misfiring on draft picks and free-agent signings; the football brains of the organization are distracted by the increasingly contentious inter-office chess match to determine who will be left standing as king. When Zygmunt, Armey and Martz are working in harmony, dedicated to a common goal, they can construct a good football team. But this collision of egos is doing too much damage.

    Shaw is a persuasive negotiator, but can he unify his football leadership? I doubt it. The rupture may be too great. And if that's the case, Shaw has two basic choices:

    One: Clarify the power structure and put one in charge, leaving no space for ambiguity or interpretation.

    Two: Fire all three and start over.

    Option No. 2 isn't likely.

    Contractually, Martz already has most of the power in the football side of the organization. And Martz also has two years remaining on his contract, which means the Rams will owe him a guaranteed $7 million. Shaw is too vigilant in protecting ownership's money to cut Martz a $7 million check to go away.

    But even if Shaw lets the front-office feud go on, he must get Martz under control. Martz is a tormented coach. He wastes too much energy and emotion fretting over front-office politics, media control and inconsequential matters. Martz is distracted from doing his most important job, which is coaching the Rams on Sunday. There's just too much turmoil at Rams Park; in his most recent dust-up Martz got into a nasty argument with injured right tackle Kyle Turley during a meeting in the coach's office.

    Martz simply cannot function when he's trying to be the point man on so many areas. Martz is trying to keep his players from bailing on him. He's trying to be the GM. He's trying to outmaneuver Zygmunt and Armey. And Martz is trying to be the media-relations director, instituting a bizarre set of rules for media access to practice. Martz was apparently convinced that a media member was spying on his team and relaying the game-plan to opponents. I don't watch practice, so I don't care, except for this: shouldn't the coach be, well, coaching?

    Even on his best days, Martz's attention wanders. But lately, Martz's level of concentration has deteriorated to the point that he admittedly couldn't remember if he played No. 1 draft pick Steven Jackson at running back in last Sunday's game. Martz neglected to use Jackson, which was shocking on two fronts. First, Martz never attacked Arizona's poor rush defense. Second, Martz continues to stay with the declining Faulk, who has produced the meager total of 35 yards rushing in 30 carries in his past three starts. Martz even acknowledged that Faulk decides when Jackson should be used in a game. Strange. If Faulk has such control over Martz - and is guaranteed a starting job for as long as he wants it - then why did the Rams draft Jackson?

    Martz seems to be operating on his own astral plane, unable to look down to see the real world and adjust to the new shape of the Rams. Martz no longer has a dynamic fleet of playmakers on offense, and he doesn't have the offensive line to make it all spark. But Martz won't square up to reality. He insists on running the same offense that wrecked defenses from 1999-2001.

    Even with Chris Chandler all but whimpering in the pocket the past two games, rattled beyond hope, Martz wouldn't downsize the offense and minimize the weakness at the quarterback position. And this is unusual, because in 2003 Martz did a superb job of squeezing 12 wins out of an offense that he scaled down, in large part, to accommodate QB Marc Bulger's relative inexperience. But last season Martz focused on football, and his coaching often was exceptional. This year, his mind is drifting in too many directions, and his game management is more baffling than ever.

    That's the most alarming aspect of Martz's performance. Through all of his eccentricities, Martz always could be counted on to brilliantly find ways to put points on the board. But that's no longer true. The 2004 Rams are sputtering, ranking only 22nd in points scored among the 32 teams. The mighty Martz offense has generated only two touchdowns in the past three games.

    Martz will be back in 2005, unless he decides to quit, which is unlikely. But Shaw must order Martz to concentrate on coaching and coaching only.

    Can Shaw save Martz from Martz and get the Rams back on track for 2005? I simply cannot believe Shaw will stand by, doing nothing, as Martz implodes.

    Calling John Shaw ...


  2. #2
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    Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

    man, talk about jumping on a bandwagon....................... I bloody hate Bernie the Dolt


  3. #3
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    Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

    This is a typical Bernie article. Its like he's walking out of kitchen with a sandwich saying - "Look what I came up with! You put the meat in between two slices of bread. I'm so clever. Nobody ever thought of this before!"

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    sbramfan is offline Registered User
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    Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

    This is what every losing team experiences....finger pointing.

    Unfortunately, it can snowball into a pretty bad scenario.

  5. #5
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    Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

    Shaw must mediate the front-office battle between president of football operations Jay Zygmunt, general manager Charley Armey and Martz, the head coach and would-be CEO.

    The Rams have a dysfunctional front office, contaminated by distrust and paranoia.

    The Zygmunt-Martz relationship, once so warm, has turned cold. Armey is out of the loop; his authority has been reduced to that of a glorified scout. The three wise men spend too much time worrying about what the others are saying, and doing, behind the scenes.

    No wonder the Rams are misfiring on draft picks and free-agent signings; the football brains of the organization are distracted by the increasingly contentious inter-office chess match to determine who will be left standing as king. When Zygmunt, Armey and Martz are working in harmony, dedicated to a common goal, they can construct a good football team. But this collision of egos is doing too much damage.

    OK. It is evident that Bernie "cribbed" Hadley's insights. If he gets paid on a per piece basis, I hope he shares it with Hadley.

  6. #6
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    Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

    OK. It is evident that Bernie "cribbed" Hadley's insights. If he gets paid on a per piece basis, I hope he shares it with Hadley.
    I got that impression as well from reading Bernie's "insightful" article...
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    SJax, a developing quarterbacks best friend...

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    Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

    Well in the years I saw here in so cal, Shaw didn't do much at all. So I don't know if he much to do with 99 either, but if he did , then his calling is now!This team needs some major something and if he was behind 99 then get to work Shaw! :tongue:
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

  8. #8
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    Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by theodus69
    Well in the years I saw here in so cal, Shaw didn't do much at all. So I don't know if he much to do with 99 either, but if he did , then his calling is now!This team needs some major something and if he was behind 99 then get to work Shaw! :tongue:
    That is pretty much how I remember it. And the bit%^ used to prance on the field like that idiot owner from the 'aints.

    A new DC and a STC that can utilize our better players would be a great start :upset:
    Socrates: Surf to live! and Live to Surf!

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    Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

    Amen to that ! :ramlogo:
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

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