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  1. #1
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    Letters to Gordo: Marmie still taking hits from Rams fans

    Letters to Gordo: Marmie still taking hits from Rams fans

    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    05/18/2005

    Most citizens of Rams Nation seem to like the changes the team made during this offseason. But what about the men in charge? Can they get the Rams back on the path to Super Bowl contention?

    Here are some more observations which reached the e-mail bin at the “Letters to Gordo” bureau:


    * * *

    “As much as the media loves to bag on Martz, I like his style and think the players respect the fact that he is not a puppet or copycat. He truly believes in what he knows and has credibility that it can work -– the playoffs and a Super Bowl appearance. What I question is the replacement of Lovie Smith (who is doing some great things in Chicago) with Larry Marmie. Marmie has NEVER been successful and unlike Martz does not have the background that demands respect from the players. What the heck were the Rams thinking with this hire? Marmie seems to be a very passive guy, unlike the fiery Lovie Smith. This young aggressive Rams defense liked to hustle to the ball and never stop moving by demand of Lovie.

    “Marmie does NOT seem to get the most out of his players the way good defensive coordinators do. I see this as the reason they will not return to the Super Bowl this year. I like the Dexter Coakley and Chris Claiborne acquisitions. Maybe they can show the fire and leadership that Marmie does not. If you have anything positive to say about Marmie and his schemes, please let me know -- because I just do not see it!”

    -- Tim Parr, Thousand Oaks, Calif.


    GORDO: Lovie was more charismatic, for sure, and Marmie’s Cardinals credentials earn him no favor here. But the 2004 season was a transition year between two significantly different schemes. Mix in some key injuries (Adam Archuleta, Aeneas Williams, et al) and some baffling personnel failures (Tommy Polley, Robert Thomas, Rich Coady) and you had the recipe for catastrophe.

    Let’s see what happens with new linebackers, a retooled secondary and another offseason of work in the new scheme. Perhaps the fans will have to go looking for another goat by the end of next season. Or maybe I’ll join those grabbing torches and storming Rams Park.



    * * *

    “Defensive schemes are overrated in the area of how effective a defense is. Even Tampa, the anointed masters of the Cover 2, only run that base defense 20 percent of the time, as did the Rams under coach Lovie Smith. If you can recall all the times we played Tampa, most of Tampa's success on defense came when they had eight in the box. They were blitzing and jumping receivers' hot routes, turning them into sacks or incompletions or picks. The fact of the matter is that with the way these Rams front four managed to stick to their blockers like Velcro, there was NO WAY any defensive scheme could have worked. Tackles, ends and linebackers can't play their assigned gaps if they are being handily square-danced out of the play by a blocker.

    “You must defeat the guy who is attempting to block you FIRST before you can get to your responsibility in WHATEVER scheme you are running. X's and O's and fancy stunts look great on paper but the game is won or lost in the trenches, not on the chalkboard. Name a great defense that played without great run stuffers and pass-rushing linemen. Give me defensive tackles that require double teams to run against and put pressure up the middle on pocket pass plays giving the quarterback nowhere to step up, as your speed demon defensive ends get around their 360-pound Clydesdale tackles.

    “All of the sudden your linebackers don't have guys getting to them with angles on running plays as the linemen are defeating their blocks. Defensive backs don't have to chase quick receivers for 10 seconds making them look good as all of them can stay with a guy for 3 1/2 seconds. So, let’s hope Ryan Pickett and Damione Lewis and Jimmy Kennedy don't play like blocker magnets AGAIN this season.

    “Upon further review and much head shaking, it appeared that a lack of talent and key injuries to the playmakers on defense contributed more to the lack of turnover production and good defensive play than any schemes or philosophies that these guys were in. Dropped picks and botched tackles and pitter-patter hits on defense (I counted two good hits all season, Pisa Tinoisamoa and Robert Thomas made them) means that the SCHEMES were good enough to put guys in position to make plays and they just didn't do it.”

    -- Ken Waugh, Visalia Ca,


    GORDO: Way to back up my previous rebuttal . . .

    * * *

    “Yeah, they may have filled some defensive/special teams needs, but generally with pedestrian journeyman types (Coakley being the possible exception). With the departure of Aeneas Williams, this unit needs fiery emotional leadership, something sorely lacking since London Fletcher left. Leonard Little provides a veteran presence, but he's not a vocal on-field authority -- and his preoccupation with legal matters didn't help. So for those who say the Rams didn't overspend on free agency, I ask, ‘Can you put a price on leadership?’

    “Martz and the front office don't seem ready yet to admit that like the last two years, the Rams will have to outscore their opponents to win. That is the reality for 2005 as well -- period. With that, I felt they should have invested the top two picks on offensive linemen. Alex Barron is an admitted natural left tackle, and the way he uses the phrase ‘laid back’ so freely in his interviews scares me. If he doesn't pan out or is injured, we're right back to the revolving-door nightmare we've all had to endure the last few years.

    "A true right tackle in Round 2 would have injected youth into -- and secured -- that position nicely. Martz also seems to think that Andy McCollum and Adam Timmerman can go on forever, and drafted interior line help that has weight, attitude, and injury concerns. His stubborn, perennial lack of attention to the offensive line has eliminated years of productivity from Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk, and dissolved the Rams offensive mystique forever. Let's hope he doesn't do the same to Marc Bulger.”

    -- Dean Luke


    GORDO: I’m optimistic about the draft and the free agency moves. As for Martz, it’s not that he ignored the offensive line, it’s that he asked it to do too much. All those empty backfields, all those different pass protection schemes . . . sometimes we got the impression that he out-thought himself with his Xs and Os.

    One thing is for sure -– the Rams can’t run this offense with mediocre linemen.



    * * *

    “I don't see much to complain about with the Rams this offseason. They had several glaring weaknesses -- run defense, special teams, hard hitters (that can force turnovers) and depth along the offensive line and at safety. Each one has been addressed. Coakley and Claiborne may not be Pro Bowlers, but they should be more disciplined, tougher and more aggressive than the players they're replacing. They drafted several players in this draft because they are special team demons. Veteran signees Michael Stone and Michael Hawthorne also excel on special teams (and hopefully Hawthorne can be more than that).

    “The offensive line will not need to look for recently retired, broken-down players to fill gaps this year, and with Pace in camp on time they will have all five starters AND all five backups in their positions from day one. This is HUGE for an offensive line that needs both cohesion and time for their young players to get better. And at safety they started the offseason with one starter under contract (Archuleta) and nothing else. They may not have added any big names to the secondary but they have added significant depth and competition.

    "Even 'minor' additions like defensive end Jay Williams and tight end Roland Williams address needs at their positions. Some can complain about a few reaches and risks the Rams took in the draft (Ron Bartell, Richie Incognito and Jerome Collins), but there were even more steals or value picks (Alex Barron, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Dante Ridgeway, Madison Hedge****, and Ryan Fitzgerald).

    “Perhaps with training camp closer to home this year and a new turf being installed the Rams can start the season healthier. Because good health seems to be the only other thing this team needs to be a real NFC title contender.”

    -- Will Milano, Salem, Mass.


    GORDO: That’s pretty much my assessment of the team, too. Let’s see if Kennedy, Lewis and Pickett can give more in the middle of the defensive line. Let’s see if Anthony Hargrove really is an up-and-coming talent.

    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  2. #2
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    Re: Letters to Gordo: Marmie still taking hits from Rams fans

    You know, if Marmie had been replaced with a promising new D coordinator (my guy was Rex Ryan, now the DC at Baltimore), I would have been cheering along with many.


    But he wasn't. He's still the Rams DC. So, I'd prefer to hold out hope that he will validate Martz's trust this year and build a defense that will help the Rams win games. He certainly has some personnel to work with now, so I expect as much.

  3. #3
    general counsel Guest

    Re: Letters to Gordo: Marmie still taking hits from Rams fans

    Criticizing marmie is one thing. Talking about lovie in a very positive way is another. How bad was the defense at the end of 2003. Did anyone watch the defense collapse completely in the carolina and detroit games at the end of the year. why doesnt anyone blame that on lovie when we couldnt stop the run to save our lives. Jamie Duncan was lovies guy. What a joke.

    Was it marmies fault when antoine edwards dropped the ball that hit him in the hands for an int and easy td in the first quarter of the falcons playoff game. How about arch dropping god knows how many ints, aeneas dropping the ball that hit him in the hands at the end of the saints game.

    Personally, i continue to believe that we just havent been talented enough on defense and when the defense looked better in the past, it was mainly becuase the offense was better and kept the defense either off the field or playing with leads, which limits the options of the other teams.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel

  4. #4
    psycho9985 Guest

    Re: Letters to Gordo: Marmie still taking hits from Rams fans

    I still dont believe in Marmie yet.He has a long way to go to win me over.We dont have a choice in the matter of 2005.If the Rams become one of the top ten defences in 2005 then I'm a marmie fan.We've built a team of the ages,and to me nothing but the best will do.I want 6 superbowl rings before Dallas or the *******,or anyone else including pittsburg and new england.If i'm not mistaken,its already done.The pats will win the next Superbowl to be the first to win 3 in a row,or threepeat if you like.

  5. #5
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    Re: Letters to Gordo: Marmie still taking hits from Rams fans

    Although Marmie's track record is woeful and questioning his abilities is a legitimate activity, in all honesty there were many problems out of his control that helped to disrupt and limit what the defense could accomplish last year. But now the honeymoon is over, he's been the beneficiary of significant off-season upgrades and needs to come through with turning things around and living up to the heaps of praise Mike Martz has been showering on him. The credibility of both men will be on the line in 2005 IMO.

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    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Re: Letters to Gordo: Marmie still taking hits from Rams fans

    Marmie did not bring a sparkling resume to the Rams--I think everyone agrees on that. However, Marmie inherited players selected to complement Lovie's scheme. He did the best he could with what he had. Could someone else have done better with the same personnel? Perhaps, but we'll never know.

    This year the Rams have acquired players both in free agency and the draft which should allow Marmie to implement his defensive schemes; perhaps we will be pleasantly surprised. I for one was not thrilled when Martz brought Marmie over from the Cardinals, but I am just a fan. Marmie is our DC like it or not and at least deserves a chance to succeed now that he has some players chosen to "fit" in his defense.

    Hopefully we can pick up one more veteran stud DT to clog up the middle and bolster our run defense (Marmie apparently likes big guys).

    I would love to be surprised.....who knows..it may happen...

  7. #7
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    Re: Letters to Gordo: Marmie still taking hits from Rams fans

    This is the year we will see the real Larry Marmie. He came into St. Louis saying he'd run basically the same defense as Lovie but the games and offseason weight gain has shown otherwise. I suspect one of the biggest reasons the defense struggled last season was that they were a little slow on picking up his schemes. Smith's defense was much more simple and as a result of the confusion, they were constantly out of position and getting pounded. Their speed was no longer a factor.

    Now that more of his players are into the system, let's see what he does. He's already gotten the "no players" excuse in Arizona, and I'll give it to him for his first year here. He'll need to find a way to get a lot of key guys to step up their game this year... Jimmy Kennedy, Damione Lewis, Anthony Hargrove, Adam Archuleta, Michael Hawthorne/O.J. Atogwe/Michael Stone. Chris Claiborne also comes to mind because even though he comes in with a better resumé than our recent MLBs, he's underachieved thus far in his career. How he adjusts to moving back (to his more natural spot) inside will be another factor. It could spark improvement or slow it down.

    If he fails, give him another year. If he fails again, bring in Bo Pelini.

  8. #8
    Rarecat Guest

    Re: Letters to Gordo: Marmie still taking hits from Rams fans

    I was one of the many to write Gordo an email about Marmie. It really steams me that this guy is responsible for half of the team and Martz won't let the press have access to the guy. I want him held publicly accountable and want to hear from him what he is going to do with the D

  9. #9
    psycho9985 Guest

    Re: Letters to Gordo: Marmie still taking hits from Rams fans

    I'm real worried about Martz/MarmieI hope Martz is a genius about picking his coaches like he is on offensive coord.

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