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Letters to Gordo: Fans pile on Martz
BY JEFF GORDON
Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
Here’s a shocker: Rams Nation is unhappy with coach Mike Martz. His team is 4-4 heading into a critical matchup with division rival Seattle. The second half of the schedule is rugged.
Fans are fretful, as the latest edition of “Letters to Gordo” shows:
* * *
“Yes, players need to make plays. But coaches need to give their players an opportunity to win. The play-calling against New England was horrible; third and two, and you run a wide receiver sweep? How about coming out and establishing the pass to set up the run against a banged-up secondary?
"I mean, Martz seems uncharacteristically gun-shy when he should have passed. What happened to Steven Jackson? The guy needs more than two or three carries to get rolling downhill. He's the type of punishing running back that would wear down the defense.
“Of course, I can't blame the awful special teams on Martz -- or can I?”
-- Patrick Black
GORDO: Ultimately, the head coach is responsible for special teams play if it never gets better. And I agree about Jackson – he should get 10 to 15 touches per game. He adds an element the Rams have lacked since The Bus left town.
And, yes, I hated that handoff to Shaun McDonald in that situation.
* * *
“How much worse can it get? I am so sick of hearing Martz say things are going to change, blah, blah, blah! The bottom line is, this team comes unprepared time and time again! Year after year! When Martz took over this team in 2000, the talent was immense, and what does he have to show for it? We should be the team with two Super Bowl championships or more and going for another one, not the Patriots! What’s the difference? They have a superior coach!
“I don't want to hear about his record; with the talent the Rams had, almost anyone could have gotten this team to the playoffs. What Martz has done to destroy this team with his incompetence is sinful! The franchise has lost whatever luster it had after 1999. I cannot believe that John Shaw and company have allowed this to happen. I have been a Rams fan since 1968 and this reminds me of when Tommy Prothro took over for George Allen -- it took years for the franchise to recover.
“The Rams will go nowhere as long as Martz is coach. The sad part about this is that the window of championship opportunity is gone. Rams fans deserve better. St. Louis deserves better after shelling out all that money on PSLs and the stadium! Brace yourself, because what Martz has done to this team will be felt for years to come.”
-- Craig Girch
GORDO: St. Louis has gotten a nice return on its dollars with four postseason trips in the last five years – three of them under Martz. Yes, the Rams should have won two Super Bowls instead of one. On the other hand, they won Super Bowl 34 by a margin of one yard at the end.
So all this chatter about “dominant” talent is silly. When the Rams won their one World Championship, they stayed healthy, ripped through a soft schedule, exploited their home-field edge in the playoffs and won both the NFC title game and the Super Bowl by slim margins. Then they started losing starting players to free agency.
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“Martz made a huge mistake in hiring Larry Marmie. This is basically the same defense Lovie Smith had, minus Grant Wistrom, and they have gone from the middle of the league to near the bottom of the league as far as defensive stats. Rams fans are tired of Martz's continued blunders as a head coach. Bring in someone who has proven he can WIN a Super Bowl -- bring on Jimmy Johnson.”
-- James Greenlaw, Salt Lake City
GORDO: The loss of Wistrom and Brian Young hurt this team, since these were two of the three most active defensive linemen, along with Leonard Little. The loss of cornerback Travis Fisher to the broken arm hurt, as did the variety of linebacker injuries. And Aeneas Williams is very definitely a year older.
But, no, this year’s unit hasn’t played with the speed and tenaciousness of last year’s unit.
* * *
“Martz keeps maintaining the attitude 'Hey we are the Rams; it will be OK.’ Well, having been to the Dome and watched the games, it is clear that attitude has been reflected by the players; the intensity; the urgency is not there. Face the facts, we are 4-4. We are the only team in the NFL to lose to the Dolphins. That isn't just sad, it is humiliating.
“We are in serious trouble. The Rams better play every game from here on as if there is no tomorrow, because there isn't. Hey, the Arizona Cardinals are about to catch them in the division. Enough said.”
-- Ron Harris, Jefferson City
GORDO: Martz has cracked the whip on the team. He isn’t saying the team will be OK. He spoke with real urgency about the Rams this week; now let’s see if the team plays with urgency.
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“Ever since Martz took over, this organization has failed miserably in developing offensive lineman. Why? Name ONE GUY who they've developed from within during the Martz era that has contributed anything on their 'offensive’ line. There isn't anybody! No excuse for this.
“The Martz era has been clouded by absolutely TERRIBLE drafting. Robert Thomas, Damione Lewis, Trung Canidate, Jacoby Shepherd, Eric Crouch, even Adam Archuleta and Ryan Pickett aren't solid contributors. Where is ANY help from the Three Stooges, Pickett, Lewis and Jimmy Kennedy? They all STINK. You can only have so many horrible drafts before it comes up to bite you. And it is and will continue to until they start cleaning house, starting with the head coach.
“For a team that's supposed to be built on speed, why can't they find a decent kickoff return man? Arlen Harris? YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING. This is the best they can do? Might be a hard worker, but NO WAY is he what they need. This has been the NFL's WORST unit on all fronts (returns, coverage, etc.) for five years and counting -- no excuse for this! It isn't the special teams coaches, MARTZ is the problem along with (crummy) players. This unit is an annual joke. It's a function of the poor drafting, too.
“Whoever heard of a GM that reports to the head coach? Charley Armey has no power to override Martz' ridiculous personnel decisions. This organization is screwed up from top to bottom.
“The Rams WILL NOT win this sorry division. Even if they win Sunday (which I doubt), they'll eventually fall back into the sloppy play, the carelessness, and the abominable execution that has become synonymous with the Martz era. Nothing will change until Martz is run out of town. And he can take his buddy Marmie (another HORRIBLE decision) with him.”
-- Mike Wirth
GORDO: That’s a fair point about the offensive line. It’s great to have a few high-end veterans like Orlando Pace and Adam Timmerman, but a team needs five strong blockers working in unison – plus depth.
The Rams don’t have that, so the offensive line isn’t nearly as consistent as it needs to be.
-11-11-2004 #2xfactor28 Guest
Re: Letters to Gordo: Fans pile on Martz
Guess theres alot of this going around ram nation, huh?
-11-11-2004 #3Registered User
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Re: Letters to Gordo: Fans pile on Martz
Gee, I went to the Post-Dispatch site and a ClanRam Forum broke out.
Kinda reminds me of the ol' Rodney Dangerfield joke of "I went to the fights and a hockey game broke out!!"
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