BY JEFF GORDON
Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
11/12/2004

Online Columnist Jeff Gordon

It was great to see Rams coach Mike Martz get fired up this week -- but Rams Nation has been fired up for a long, long time about this team. And not in the good sense, either.

Defensive coordinator Larry Marmie continues to take hits, especially in the wake of that utter collapse against the New England Patriots. Here is another sampling of electronic mail to “Letters to Gordo” from the angry horde:


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“Yes, special teams continue to be weak. Yes, the offensive line needs work (Do we miss Jim Hanifan yet?) But Larry Marmie has to be the worst hire of all time. Why would we want to take any coaches from the Arizona Cardinals? Fire Marmie now and give the job to a defensive coach underneath him.

“The real problem was that the Rams could not stop the Patriots at all. So the offense never got a good feel for the game. This happened in Seattle, in Miami and now against the Pats. This offense needs to be on the field to succeed. The defense needs to stop people and get off the field. Martz is only the problem, in that he is allowing Marmie to stick around.

“And one more note: Why does Martz not move upstairs during the games? His play-calling is not as good when he is on ground level.”

-- Bob Hunt, Sarasota, Fla.


GORDO: When the Rams are forced to play catch-up, as they did against New England, the offensive balance evaporates. The Patriots were able to come after quarterback Marc Bulger every way imaginable -- and they really beat him up.

If the Rams can deliver some stops against Seattle, Martz may be able to grind out more yardage on the ground, eat some clock and give the 'D’ a rest. But when the dominoes fall the other way, the game can turn ugly. As we saw again Sunday.


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“What a pathetic football team. The way to correct mistakes is to practice, practice, and more practice. When you give a team the week off , you are really saying, 'Thanks for a great game against Miami.”

-- Joe Albertina


GORDO: The Rams were a physical wreck after the first seven games of the season, so they needed to rest during the bye week. That was just the reality of it. Martz felt his team had a very strong practice tempo leading into the Patriots game, but we saw the result.

So, yes, he pushed them harder this week. But there is a limit to how hard you can push a team that must play 20 preseason and regular season games in a span of 21 weeks.


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“I have been screaming for Mike Martz's head for a long time now. I am curious to ask you why I do not see you or any other columnist in STL going after this guy for his many shortcomings. When is someone going to write an article about Martz and management’s lack of focus on the offensive line? How many years are they going to use a high draft pick on an O lineman? I thought for sure they would do it 2 years ago when Eric Steinbach was staring them in the face, and once again they passed.

“Why does he continually do this knowing that if you look at this team in the last four years, their major weakness has been the O line? Does he think Scott Tercero or Chris Dishman is the answer at guard? Martz needs to go; he is a good offensive coordinator, however as a head coach he is awful. Time and time again he lets his emotions get the best of him on the sidelines and his mismanagement of the clock and timeouts are well documented. Just once, I I would love for someone that follows the Rams to write an article about his shortcomings on the draft. Help me out here . . . am I crazy to think this?”

-- Brett Robertson, Los Angeles


GORDO: The draft has been a familiar topic, both in “Letters to Gordo” and elsewhere on STLtoday.com. The Rams’ inability to draft an offensive lineman the last several years has been a glaring weakness of the entire organization.

I certainly don’t blame the Rams for going heavy on defense in recent drafts, or going for a running back to aid Marshall Faulk. But, yes, they are paying for their failure on the O line. When both Kyle Turley and Dave Wohlabaugh both failed to come back from offseason surgeries, the Rams lacked a viable Plan B.

That is why you want to have young offensive linemen in the wings. Tercero might make it in the long term, but this season has been a rough introduction.


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“Yes, the Rams have looked bad in their last two losses to Miami and New England. Let's look at the positive for a second. (As I'm sure I'll be a minority in that aspect) Both those losses were against AFC teams, therefore not hurting the Rams’ conference record any. The real 'key’ game is Seattle. A win will pull their record even, but effectively the Rams will have a game lead since they will have swept the season series.

“Have you seen the rest of the NFC? I'm not sure about the third or fourth tiebreaker, but I believe the Rams are currently in a playoff spot, based on their 4-2 conference mark. (Packers also have a 4-2 conference record, thus my not being sure on the next tiebreaker). So as bad as they've played, they're still right there in the thick of things, as the Giants, Lions are coming back to the pack, and everyone else is sub-.500.”

-- Mike MacKenzie


GORDO: It’s true that nearly every NFC team is still in the playoff hunt. But the Rams must get a whole lot better very, very quickly to have any chance. A loss to the Seahawks might put the NFC West out of reach.

"There are many dangerous games left on the Rams schedule -- including the game at Arizona, believe it or not -- and this team will need a dramatic turnaround just to stay alive.


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“What a surprise -- Martz got outcoached again. Losing to a better team is one thing. To be embarrassed by unrelenting sloppy play is another. As a head coach you can storm around looking teed off all you want, but you only have to look in the mirror to see where the problem starts. I hear there has been a Rich Brooks sighting around Rams Park.”

-- Jim Lindstrom


GORDO: A Rich Brooks reference -- ouch. Martz called out his players this week, but clearly he’ll have to answer the bell with Mike Holmgren working the other sideline.

Holmgren needs to win the division title this season to reaffirm his standing among NFL coaches, so he’ll be working this game hard.