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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls

    Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls
    BY BILL COATS
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    ST. LOUIS - (KRT) - They grow 'em tough in Barnesville, Ohio, a small coal-mining town directly across the Ohio River from Wheeling, W.Va. So when the catcalls began early last season, Rams' first-year defensive coordinator Larry Marmie took little notice.

    "Sure, most people would like to have good things being said about them all the time. But this is a result-oriented business, and that's part of it," he said. "You're trying to do the best you can, but there's going to be some adversity in this game. And if you can't handle that, if you can't work through that and continue to do your job, then you're not going to last very long."

    After a pause, Marmie grinned and added, "Sometimes I didn't like what I saw, either."

    The Rams' defense was erratic in 2004. By midseason the unit ranked near the bottom of the 32-team NFL in several key categories. Marmie, who replaced the highly popular and generally successful Lovie Smith, became an easy target.

    "I understood that," said Marmie, 62. "If you don't do well, if you don't perform, things are going to be said. . . . And certainly Lovie's a terrific coach and an outstanding person."

    Critics emphasized that Marmie had spent the previous eight seasons with the lowly Arizona Cardinals. And they charged bitterly that coach Mike Martz had hired his former boss out of loyalty: Marmie was the head coach at Arizona State when Martz served as offensive coordinator from 1988-91.

    Martz firmly defended Marmie. "We share a lot of the same philosophies from a football standpoint," he said last summer in training camp. "But the character that (Marmie) brings to this football team is unmatchable. He's somebody, like Lovie, that you have a great deal of respect for."

    But respect must be merited, Marmie stressed. "Any time that there's a change, you have to adjust to each other," he said. "As a coach, you have to earn your stripes."

    Although the Rams employ the same basic scheme as they did before Smith left to become the Chicago Bears coach, Marmie tossed in some modifications that required significant adjustments.

    "He challenges you mentally," defensive end Leonard Little said. "He makes you try to think a little bit more when you're out."

    Whereas the Rams under Smith didn't deviate much from their base sets, Marmie favors multiple formations and coverages.

    "There are a couple of different philosophies, and one is that you don't do very much and you try to do that very, very well. You get the repetition of it over and over and over and over," Marmie said. "And the other is that you're going to do more things, which gives you more flexibility . . . in how you might be able to attack the offense. But sometimes when you're doing more things, you don't get as many repetitions" with the various alignments.

    A period of uncertainty was predictable. "We were very inconsistent at times," Marmie said. But after allowing an average of 364.0 yards and 27.2 points in the first 11 regular-season games, the Rams yielded 269.8 and 18.6, respectively, over the last five and made the playoffs.

    For the season, the Rams wound up relatively close statistically to 2003, Smith's final year in St. Louis. They fell to 17th from 16th in total defense, sinking to 29th from 21st vs. the run but improving to 11th from 12th vs. the pass.

    The biggest difference was the record: 8-8 last year and a wild-card spot in the playoffs vs. 12-4 and the NFC West title in 2003.

    Added personnel should help in '05: The Rams' free-agent acquisitions include linebackers Chris Claiborne and Dexter Coakley, defensive backs Michael Hawthorne and Michael Stone, and defensive end Jay Williams. Several could emerge as starters.

    Also, three of the team's first five draft picks were defenders - cornerback Ron Bartell, plus safeties Oshiomogho "O.J." Atogwe and Jerome Carter.

    "What I see right now, in relationship to last year, is a lot more depth and more competition," Marmie said. "And that's exciting."

    As is the prospect of molding a unit after a year of experience with the Rams. "Hopefully we all learned some things last year; I know I did," Marmie said. "I know our players a lot better."

    He plans to keep challenging his troops as he continues the teaching and tweaking that eventually will place his personal stamp on the unit. That will resume Friday through Sunday in the full-squad minicamp at Rams Park.

    "We've given our guys a whole lot of stuff at this point during the offseason, and they've done a really good job of digesting it," Marmie said. "What we're looking for is when we go to training camp, they're seeing and hearing all of this stuff for about the third time. Last year, they were hearing a lot of it for the first time . . . a LOT of it."

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  2. #2
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    Re: Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls

    Nice post NS...I predict this years D will surprise a few people. 1 year isn't a fair amount of time to judge a coach and his system..Marmie walked into a D with plenty of holes...then you have a guy like Mora who walked into the foundation of what Reeves had built for years and he walks on water to the NFL sportscasters...What a load of crap!!!

  3. #3
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls

    I agree with what you're saying, Shades. I don't think you can adequately judge someone with one year with a team. My concern is that Marmie hasn't exactly wowed anyone in the past, so is it farfetched to expect great things in the future? I dunno. Optimistically, I'd like to say no, but the track record disagrees. I guess we'll see - he's certainly had the chance to add a lot of players to the mix.
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    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls

    They may be old but Coach Marmie shows some teeth!



    fftopic: Nick, sorry about going back and forth w/the Jerseys thread; been having problems to make changes (edit) from the initial post / list.

    Last time -- I hope -- that I'll ask you to please delete previous "Rams = names + numbers = Jerseys" thread. I was all mixed up. It turned out to be a roughdraft type of thread and is now redundant. Perdón.

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    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls

    But respect must be merited, Marmie stressed. "Any time that there's a change, you have to adjust to each other," he said. "As a coach, you have to earn your stripes."
    Coach Marmie, I couldn't agree more. And I want to root for you Coach, but there's nothing in your professional coaching history that gives me a lot of hope. 2004 was your best season as a pro coach! Hopefully an extra offseason will be all the difference, but as you said yourself, you have to earn your stripes.

    My big question is will the familiarity that comes with an added year under Marmie bring with it a return to high forced turnovers? In 2003, our defense was not good, but they created turnovers. Was this due to the simplicity of the defense that allowed players to just go on instinct instead of thinking about every play? And if so, will familiarity translate into that simplicity?

    I hope so.
    "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

  6. #6
    general counsel Guest

    Re: Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls

    HUGE point in the middle of the article that a lot of guys on this board are missing. The rams dropped from 16th to 17th in TOTAL defense last year.

    From reading the views on this board regarding marmie, you would have thought that the defense went into a total collapse upon the departure of the great and sainted lovie, he of the defense scheme and personnel moves that killed us in the detroit and carolina games at the end of the 2003 season, he of the complete total inability to stop the run against carolina in the playoffs.

    One huge difference last year, and the ONLY huge difference i could see (since we couldnt tackle to save our lives either season) was the failure to make big plays and get turnovers. That is what covered up a multitude of sins in the past. Does lovie get credit for the turnovers? Maybe. I still dont think you can blame marmie for the number of balls that hit our guys right in the hands that we dropped for sure INT's last year, including the most important one, the drop by antuan stiffo edwards in the playoff game against atlanta that was a sure TD and would have changed the game. Remember the ball archuleta dropped at the goal line at the end of the seattle playoff game. How about the ball aeneas dropped that hit him in the hands at the end of the saints game in the end zone?

    I am not saying marmie is the greatest, only that the reason the defense has been lousy is that the players arent good enough which is why bobby april is the coach of the year in buffalo on special teams and we were so lousy when he was coaching us.

    For the millionth time, COACHING MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE AT THE MARGAIN, BUT THE PLAYERS HAVE TO EXECUTE.

    sorry for the capital letters, but the bobby april example is so perfect. Fire him, he stinks. Coach of the year the next year. He is the same coach guys, but his players are a lot better special teams wise in buffalo.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel

  7. #7
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    Re: Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls

    Quote Originally Posted by GC
    HUGE point in the middle of the article that a lot of guys on this board are missing. The rams dropped from 16th to 17th in TOTAL defense last year.
    GC, I think everyone remembers how well they played in the last third of the season. They actually did a pretty good job against the niners, the Eagles 2nd string, and even in the Carolina and Cards losses. And you're right, coaching is not the contribution that execution is. In fact, I think Jimmy Kennedy was a much bigger factor in the late successes of the Rams D than Marmie was. What bothers me is that while yardage D went from 16th to 17th, scoring D went from 17th to 25th. We allowed about 5 points more per game, which shouldn't be a problem when the D is generating TOs. We lived off of them in 2003, and yes they did keep our Weak D hidden, but they weren't there in 2004 and our dirty little secrets came out of hiding. I hope that a year of familiarity and movement up the learning curve will take care of that discrepancy. However, to view a Marmie led D with anything other than guarded optimism is, at best, wild speculation. This is simply because he's never had a defense better than what we saw in 2004. At this point (assuming Arch is at, as his says, 6000%) the 2005 personnel look to be world's better than the 2004 squad. Add that to an extra year of learning Marmie's D and they may be okay. Hopefully now that Marmie has led a D finishing higher than 22nd, maybe they can build on that and finish higher than 17th this year. But it's all uncharted territory for Marmie.
    "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

  8. #8
    general counsel Guest

    Re: Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls

    I too view the defense with skepticism, but its not because of marmie, its because of the players. Will kennedy stay healthy. will claiborne stay healthy? will travis fisher stay healthy? Will hargrove develop? etc.

    My biggest point is that if someone is complaining about marmie, i hope that they were complaining about lovie as well, since i think he was the most overated coordinated in history.

    general counsel

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    Re: Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel
    I too view the defense with skepticism, but its not because of marmie, its because of the players. Will kennedy stay healthy. will claiborne stay healthy? will travis fisher stay healthy? Will hargrove develop? etc.

    My biggest point is that if someone is complaining about marmie, i hope that they were complaining about lovie as well, since i think he was the most overated coordinated in history.

    general counsel
    I agree with Lovie. He's had a career that has had a lot of the right pieces fall together for him. He had guys like Sapp, Lynch and Brooks in TB, and tried to make the same scheme work with Lewis, Arch & Polley. It was never going to happen. Were it not for all the TO's in 2003, that year could have been as ugly as 2004.

    And as far as health...well that's the great unknown isn't it? If everyone stays healthy, the D will be above average and should be plenty good enough to give our offense more time on the field. However, if we have an injury or two at the right positions, we could be screwed regardless of who's on the sideline.
    "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

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    Re: Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls

    1 year isn't a fair amount of time to judge a coach and his system..Marmie walked into a D with plenty of holes...
    Couldn't agree more Shades. Many people point to Marmie's success, or lack of, in Arizona. Let's face it folks. The coaches in Arizona, before Dennis Green, weren't exactly given the best talent to succeed.

    I declined judgement on Marmie last season because he was still playing with Lovie's undersized yet speedy defense. This year, we're starting to see Marmie's stamp put on the defense with bigger DB's (Hawthorne, Bartell) and LB's (Claiborne).

  11. #11
    general counsel Guest

    Re: Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls

    As is frequently the case, the Big Bison in the Sky has hit the nail on the head here. IF we stay healthy, the defense will be GOOD ENOUGH given the effectiveness of the offense. To win the superbowl we dont need to have the 1985 bears defense, but we do need to improve our tackling dramatically and make some plays, especially when the balls hit us in the hands for the sure INT's. If the offense dominates, the defense will be on the field less often and play with more leads, which will help a lot.

    Ramming speed to all

    general counsel

  12. #12
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls

    Great summation, GC. Pretty well nails it IMHO. And of course...
    the balls hit us in the hands
    ...is much better than the other way around.
    "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

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    coy bacon is offline Registered User
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    Re: Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls

    Yes, Lovie was overrated. I think the Duncan move says it all.

    But I am not sold on Marmie. Everyone deserves a season to break in, and Marmie has had his. But his track record at AZ doesn't give me much hope. I have no reason to be confident, even if our team is healthy, that the D is going to improve or be good enough. Poor coaching and poor tactics / alignments / schemes, will negate player's abilities. If Marmie is as good as his record, then we got problems.

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    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel
    One huge difference last year, and the ONLY huge difference i could see (since we couldnt tackle to save our lives either season) was the failure to make big plays and get turnovers.
    Couldn't agree with you more, GC.


    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel
    How about the ball aeneas dropped that hit him in the hands at the end of the saints game in the end zone?
    Not only was it disappointing to see Aeneas not grab that ball, but the fact that Horn was able to reel it in for a touchdown was sickening.


    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel
    For the millionth time, COACHING MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE AT THE MARGAIN, BUT THE PLAYERS HAVE TO EXECUTE.
    Again, agreed.
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    Re: Marmie shows grit amid critics' howls

    Lovie's focus on speed has hurt the toughness of this defense. I don't necessarily blame Marmie for everything, Lovie has some to share. Remember at the end of his last year as DC how the defense just fell apart? I'm not so sure it was all Marmie's scheme that made this defense pourous last year. At one point, the only secondary person that was slated as a legit starter was Butler playing.

    Let's see how this team does.

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