Letters to Gordo: They're mad about Mike
BY JEFF GORDON
Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
Monday, Sep. 12 2005

The Rams moved up and down the field on the *****. They stuffed the San
Francisco running game, for the most part. They controlled the time of
possession.

And yet they lost 28-25 in Week 1 of the 2005 NFL season.

Rams Nation was definitely not pleased with coach Mike Martz, as you can tell
from the following sampler of electronic mail to the “Letters to Gordo” bin:


* * *

“Losing to the Niners was pathetic. While a healthy Tim Rattay and an
underrated defense may make those guys tougher than previously thought, losing
to them is still unacceptable. How many games did the Rams lose last year where
they gave up a TD on special teams that made the difference between winning and
losing?

“Contrary to what we saw in the preseason vs. San Diego, I thought the overall
play of the defense was OK. Excellent against the run. If Rex Tucker and the
special teams ever get it together, these guys could be real good.
Unfortunately, the special teams for the Rams haven't had it together since
1999-2000.”

Andy Winford


GORDO: I’m still not convinced that Rattay and Co. will win many games this
season. Had they not gotten a boost from those egregious special teams blunders
by the Rams, the ***** likely lose Sunday’s game going away.


* * *

“Well I, for one, am really excited about the improvement in the Rams special
teams play. Last year, Amey would have returned the punt 76 yards.”

John Robison, San Antonio, Texas


GORDO: Thank-you! Good night! Drive safely!


* * *

“Headline: Martz Gets His (Backside) Kicked by Rookie Coach with Less Talent.
Why? His offense beat our defense, his defense beat our offense, his special
teams kicked the (stuffing) out of our special teams.

"The ***** won two games last year. I wasn't sure before but he needs to go.
His team got outplayed in every aspect of the game by a bad team. Say it. It
needs to be said.”

Tom Reilly


GORDO: I agree with the headline, but not the premise. The Rams lost in
maddening fashion, for sure, but it’s a bit early to fire him. Dennis Green,
Herman Edwards, Mike Tice, Mike Holmgren, Mike Sherman and a bunch of other
coaches had rough Week 1s as well.

Let’s see if the Rams can pull out a tough road victory somewhere down the road
to offset this debacle.


* * *

“The Rams were absolutely pathetic against the *****, who are by all accounts,
the worst team in the league. The defense couldn't stop them, the offensive
line was horrible (seven sacks), and the special teams, well, they were exactly
the same as last year, they (stunk)! The punt return for a TD, then the onside
kick were just more of the same old Rams special teams.

"There is no excuse for the Rams to lose to *****, not one. The ***** do not
have better talent, but they do apparently have better coaching. They clearly
were ready to play, and the Rams seemed pretty lackluster. I have been a Martz
defender for a long time, but I have had enough. He is the Buddy Ryan of the
offense, a great strategist and coordinator, but terrible as a head coach.

“When was the last time the Rams had a punt or kick return that they (not the
other team) ran back for a touchdown in the last 5 years? I can't remember. I
bet you could count on one hand the total kick and punt returns the Rams have
returned for a TD in the entire Martz tenure. The same goes for blocked punts,
I would bet Ronald Reagan was president the last time the Rams blocked a punt.
The special teams have been a problem the entire time Martz has been head
coach, and it keeps costing the Rams games. It's time to remove Martz and get
somebody in who really is a head coach, not a coordinator who has reached their
level of incompetence.”

B. Lanier, Bloomington, Ill.


GORDO: Touchdown kick returns are usually rare events . . . except when the
Rams are covering them. Every time the opponent lines up to return a kick, Rams
fans get queasy. Those TDs usually come at devastating times, too, adding to
their impact. Who could have imagined that covering kicks is so difficult? We
never pick up on that fact by watching other teams cover kicks routinely.


* * *

“The more I watched Sunday’s game, the sicker I felt. The Rams' performance
against the sub-par Niners was a joke and Martz was the punch line. Two things
were clear about the Rams on Sunday. They didn’t want to win nearly as badly
as the Niners did and they were out-coached. I lay this at the feet of the
coaches. The Rams were not prepared for this game. . . . Martz’s propensity to
hire his under-qualified buddies for coaching positions has created a team
that, while talented, is inconsistent because it isn't disciplined and
prepared. No way, no how would you see a Bill Belichick team with that level
of inconsistent play.

“Also, Martz’s inability to make personnel decisions based on performance
rather than his personal feelings about the person has led to the loss of a
number of talented players. I have backed Martz for a number of years because
he is clearly an offensive mastermind with an unparalleled passion for the
game. Yet, he is also undisciplined and let’s his emotions get the better of
his judgment. With Martz and his cronies at the helm, it is clear that the Rams
will be no better than an average team, good one game and terrible the next.”

Chris Scruggs


GORDO: The Rams wanted to win, which is why they doubled the ***** in yardage
gained and had the ball for two-thirds of the game. They didn’t finish off
their drives with TDs and their special teams were dreadful. Both are coaching
issues.

As for the premise that Martz runs off talented players, I’ll refer you to
Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Marshall Faulk, Leonard Little, Orlando Pace, et al.
The Rams keep as many talented players as the salary cap rules permit. Without
the cap, the Rams would still have the London Fletchers and Dre’ Blys of the
league as well.