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Let's hope Martz proves us wrong with his madness
Let's hope Martz proves us wrong with his madness
By Bryan Burwell
Of the Post-Dispatch
Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell
If most of the football world already thought Mike Martz was a maddeningly stubborn football eccentric more than willing to bite off his nose to spite his face, wait until they get a load of him now.
At his Monday afternoon news conference at Rams Park, the Rams head coach fiercely defended his swashbuckling way of football life as if ... well, as if his life depended on it, which in a way it probably does. He is coaching an obviously flawed football team with a 1-2 record and a defense that is springing more leaks than the Titanic. But as Martz relies on his signature aggressive offensive methods for rescuing this young but very shaky season, he knows he's being confronted with outside resistance.
He is surrounded by a world full of conventional football thinkers who want to fit this aggressive, damn-the-torpedoes square peg into a very conservative round hole. We want him to play it by the old-school book. If the defense can't stop anyone - and after three weeks of play, there is faint evidence that this bloodied and battered group can - then why not go with a clock-gobbling, smash-mouth style of offense that relies on Marshall Faulk's fleet feet and Steven Jackson's brutish blasts?
In essence, what we want is for Martz to stay inside the lines, which of course is just about the most repugnant thing you can say to a guy with his aggressive offensive temperament. Why not just ask dogs to start living with cats?
"Look ... look ... don't ... uhhh," he said, practically spitting out the words like they were a bad piece of meat. "You need to find another coach, then. We're going to play fast and furious, that's what we do. We're going to run it when we ... want to run it, not because somebody (uh, that would be you and me) feels like you have to be balanced."
He smiled almost defiantly when he said that. And just in case you didn't understand it the first time, Martz put this exclamation point on his soliloquy:
"That's the way it is. Get used to it. That's the way it is."
Now here's what I learned from this rather revealing State of the Rams address: Mike Martz doesn't particularly care what the outside world thinks he should do. He has a plan, and he's going to stick with it. It may not be the plan you want, but it's the plan you're going to get. And here's something else gleaned from Martz's feisty words: He will get every opportunity over the next 13 weeks to either sink or swim with his convictions.
I don't presume to know more about football than Martz. His credentials as an offensive innovator and a football motivator are certified by his impressive NFL head-coaching won-loss record, a trip to the Super Bowl, and three playoff trips in four years. He has broken more imaginative ground in the fine art of passing, running and scoring than a whole lot of his coaching contemporaries.
But despite all of that past glory, for some reason that just hasn't been enough to satisfy his critics. As he pointed out during his news conference, he's been booed and hissed by some folks since the day he took over this job.
So wouldn't it be something if after all he'd already done, it turns out that this greatly flawed 2004 football team could wind up providing the most defining moment of his head-coaching career?
Think about it for a moment.
Imagine what people will have to say if there's a real method to his madness.
Imagine what people will have to say if Martz can take this team with so many glaring weaknesses and too many faulty spare parts and somehow transform it into another fast and furious playoff team.
There are a lot of folks out there now (myself included) who already have presumed that this Rams squad is a dead team walking.
But what if Martz is right?
Now, I'm not saying he is. In fact, I'm the guy who was arguing tooth and nail with him Sunday over his reluctance to embrace the rushing attack. We all know there are two basic ways to protect a glaring weakness on the defensive side of the ball - either play keep away from the other team with a run-oriented attack, or just score so many points so quickly that it won't matter what the other guys do.
I think we all know which path Martz has decided on. Still, it's something of a puzzle, particularly after he spent so much time during training camp talking about the renewed emphasis on the running game.
"We threw the ball pretty well (on Sunday), didn't we?" Martz said.
"But you lost," he was reminded.
"We got ahead at the end of the game by throwing the ball, didn't we?" Martz responded.
"Yeah, but you still lost," he was told.
"Do you think that running the ball would have won that game?" Martz asked.
Well, it sure couldn't have hurt. Four years ago, when faced with a similarly defensive-challenged team, Martz let it all hang out offensively with a high-octane offense that scored an eye-popping 540 points. Martz probably thinks history can repeat itself this season.
If he's right, and he finds a way to compensate for this defective defensive bunch, they ought to erect a bronze statue of him right in front of Edward Jones Dome.
But if he's wrong, the only thing disgruntled Martz bashers will want to erect is a gallows.
Re: Let's hope Martz proves us wrong with his madness
Martz problem is the team is not discipline. Penalties, turnovers. The coach can't make a tackle, but he can prepare them better than this. The team is a direct reflection of the coach. Martz dose not pay attention to details. We are betting ourselves right now. Great coaches don't allow that to happen.
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