11/30/2005


Rams coach Mike Martz stirred things up again, expressing an interesting in returning to his job before the end of the season. As I noted elsewhere in STLtoday, Martz did this for three reasons:

1) He really would like to coach again this season, especially with rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm. That is Mike’s pet process.

2) He wants to force John Shaw’s hand, forcing him to either negotiate a settlement ASAP or give him a contract extension.

3) Assuming that Shaw wants him gone, Martz’s proclamation alerts other NFL owners that he is ready to get on the market.

What do fans believe? Here is a sampling of the latest e-mail we’ve received on the Martz saga:

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IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD MIKE

“One vote to retain Martz. I am not privy to facts of office in-fighting, but I appreciate where ‘Mad Mike’ has taken Rams during his tenure. I believe he is one of a small group of elite innovative head coaches in the NFL. We must realize that change does not guarantee that things will get better.”

Niel Palmer

GORDO: Good point, because most head coaches post results far, far worse than what Martz accomplished during his tenure in St. Louis. For all of his much-debated shortcomings, he has won a NFC Championship as a head coach and kept his team in the playoff hunt year after year. Most NFL coaches come and go without accomplishing this much.

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“I could be wrong, but is Mike Martz the biggest idiot in professional sports? Does he want the Rams to publicly oust him? He now says he wants to come back? I obviously don't know all of the facts . . . but why would he want to come back? The Rams are not making the playoffs, and he knows the management looks to him in an unfavorable manner after the episode where he was dejected from calling in plays from home. What is there not to get?

“I understand that he says he wants to come back, but I see that as a ploy to get a settlement from the Rams. He has to know his days in St. Louis have come and gone, and from what I read, he will have plenty of teams looking at him in the offseason. Please coach Martz, go to another team and underachieve with the talent they have --you're are done in this town!”

Brian R. Dammrich

GORDO: In a perverse way, I’d like to see a coaching change so that fans could resume focusing on players instead of the eccentric in charge of the team. The next coach will be hard-pressed to match Martz’s won-loss record. Fans refuse to believe this team has actually overcame plenty (salary cap casualties, crippling injuries, etc.) to do as well as it has. Mad Mike had his flaws, for sure, but if he leaves, he will leave behind a bar set pretty high.

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“You, and most of your peers, give Martz all this credit for developing players. Wasn't it the previous offensive coordinator that pled the case for Warner to deaf ears in '98? Wasn't Martz the one, once hired, that helped coerce Trent Green from Washington because he knew nothing about Kurt Warner? Holt came in his rookie year and showed he was going to be one of the greats all the way through the Super Bowl win. Let's see if Isaac Bruce would be seen running back onto the field in the NFC Championship Game spitting up blood. Bruce has taught Holt a dandy hook slide. As for Bulger, Warner himself said almost instantaneously that he's never seen anyone that could throw "all" the passes so well, and he'd been around a few.

“Steven Jackson, what's to develop? You don't develop running instincts. You could see in his rookie training camp that Kevin Curtis was going to be something special. The only thing inhibiting his dominance is two pro-bowlers ahead of him, one of which he should supplant in the near future (yeah, right). Ryan Fitzpatrick, well, he shows great promise as the previous two, and God willing we will get a coach that values protecting the quarterback. He could be quite something if Sunday was any omen. Now, talking about dealing comfortably with veterans. Please! Sure, he pampered that prima donna (see ‘I've got a family emergency after the Super Bowl’ because he wasn't crowned MVP) Bruce to get him to quit faking his notoriously absent hamstring injuries once Bruce's buddy Martz was back in the fold. We all recall it was a lie to stay home and do an interview in Memphis(?). Ok, let's get to that malcontent Faulk that Martz can deal with. Jeez!

“You, I and everyone else knows he has better football instincts than Martz ever will. He's the extra coach on the field. Yeah, he really needs tending to. Dude, put down the bong and get back to reality. Martz is a Coryell wanna-be. He can set every offensive record there is and negate them all in the process burning time-outs, constantly throwing caution to the wind and leaving his quarterback exposed with an empty backfield set that every defensive coordinator is licking his chops to send everyone just to bust up our quarterback if nothing else. Sorry, can't back you on any of your ‘developing offensive players’ theories. Hell, he's still developing into a head coach!”

Dave Skiles
St. Peters

GORDO: Dick Vermeil couldn’t handle Bruce. Martz got him back on track. Martz built a strong relationship with Faulk, a guy the Colts elected to get rid of to make room for Edgerrin James. He wasn’t a Warner fan in their first training camp together, but he quickly prepared him for the starting job when disaster struck. Then he developed Bulger and spotted Fitzpatrick’s potential. He was a big Curtis fan when the kid was just another draft pick back in the pack. So there are lots of good things to discuss with Martz, like it or not.

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“What about ‘Mooch’ as Rams head coach now? He did a great job as coach of *****. Matt MIllen screwed up Lions not Steve Mariucci. Hire Mariucci now and he can assess players before next season. Rams players learn his system now which will be a jump start for next season.”

Gary Lamer
Sarasota, Fl.

GORDO: A serious knock on Mariucci is his perceived inability to maintain order. If the Rams change coaches, as expected, I believe Shaw will hire somebody eager to run a tight ship. The sloppiness that crept into the Rams game the last few years has been costly.