Let's go to the tape - or not
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
"We've got to regroup," Mike Martz said minutes after the Meltdown in the Meadowlands. "We're better than this."
The team charter had barely touched down at Lambert Airport when the "regrouping" began in earnest. In a move that veteran observers said was unprecedented since the franchise came to St. Louis in 1995, the Rams held a team meeting Sunday night at Rams Park.
Then on Monday, Martz decided against showing game film of the 44-24 loss to the New York Giants to the team as a whole. In his six seasons as Rams head coach, Martz estimated he has done that only two or three times.
"We've got to get ready for Seattle," Martz said Monday. "We just need to move on now, and get back on track to where we were building. And get there quickly. I think we can do that. But we're not going to do that by going back and rehashing what happened Sunday."
The Seahawks, like the Rams, are 2-2. So the winner of this Sunday's matchup at the Edward Jones Dome will have a leg up in the NFC West race.
"And that's one of the reasons I decided not to show the tape," Martz said. "We've just got to get ready for Seattle. This is a division game. This is a big game for us. We're not going to go back and replay this (Giants) game. We're just not going to do it."
Martz's approach should not be interpreted as a case of trying to gloss over Sunday's defeat. Far from it.
"We didn't play well. I know what happened; you all know what happened," Martz told reporters. "You saw it. A good, old-fashioned whipping is what we took."
Even immediately after the game, it's a view that was shared by at least some of his players.
"It's tough to take a loss like that," offensive guard Adam Timmerman said. "Physically, it seemed like they outmatched us."
Perhaps, but there was more to it than that, according to Martz.
"There's some very significant concern about where this football team is on my part," Martz said. "I believe this (game) is an anomaly. I do. I understand what we need to do from a coaching perspective to get this thing right.
"I do know some of the player issues that we have, and the guys that played well and did not play well. That will be confronted and corrected, and if we have to make a change, we'll make a change."
Martz seemed most distressed by what he perceived as a lack of consistent effort by some players. Why was there a lack of effort?
"I don't know," he said. "And it doesn't really matter. That's over with, and we're going to move on. If it shows its ugly head again, then we will make a change. That's just the way it's going to be."
Martz also was upset over defensive lapses, particularly breakdowns in coverage.
"We had a couple big plays in that game that had no business ever happening," Martz said. "For whatever reason, they did occur."
In particular there were lapses by Rams safeties in terms of help in coverage.
"There were a couple big plays by safeties that hurt us bad in this one," Martz said. "Where the receiver gets behind everybody. When we're in Cover 2, that can never happen. There's no excuse for that."
Martz did not name names, but there were a couple of indiscretions that seemed obvious.
On a 46-yard pass play from Giants quarterback Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress in the first quarter, strong safety Adam Archuleta appeared to "bite" on a route run by tight end Jeremy Shockey instead of staying back in Cover 2.
That play carried to the St. Louis 25, and five plays later, the Giants were in the end zone for their second touchdown of the day and a 17-7 lead.
In the third quarter, Manning completed a 30-yard pass to Burress on a third-and-13 play. Instead of staying back, rookie safety Jerome Carter appeared to get sucked in by a scrambling Manning.
On both plays, cornerback Travis Fisher looked like the player victimized by Burress, but that wasn't really the case.
"It's one of those things where when the quarterback breaks the pocket, we've got to cover the deepest receivers," Archuleta said. "We kind of left 'Fish' out on an island back there. We kind of hung him out to dry. ... We've just got to be disciplined."
Those two plays accounted for 76 of Burress' 204 receiving yards, which might explain why Martz was reticent to heap praise on the Giants receiver. Both big plays, in a sense, were freebies.
Speaking generally about lapses from the safety position, Martz said, "Those are the kinds that will be dealt with. That kind of thing can never be accepted. That cannot happen, or you cannot play."