Martz monkeys around with special teams
By Bernie Miklasz
Of the Post-Dispatch
Friday, Jan. 21 2005
For the Rams' next special teams coach, Mike Martz should have just
hired a chimpanzee.
Or perhaps the Rams should have staged "American Idol"-type auditions to select
their new special teams coach. Just bring in people off the street to apply for
the job. Turn the job search into a reality TV series. The special teams can't
get any worse than they are.
If I'm joking, it's only because the Rams' special teams are a joke and have
been for a long time.
Instead, Martz has hired another of his buddies from his days at Arizona State,
Ligashesky has 20 years of coaching experience, but his only stint at the NFL
level was this past season when he was an assistant to Jacksonville special
teams coach Pete Rodriguez.
Unless Martz changes his attitude and philosophy about special teams, it does
not matter who coaches the kicking-punting units. With the dismissal of
Mike Stock, Martz has fired three special teams coaches in five
Fire one guy, sure. Maybe Larry Pasquale wasn't right for the job.
Sack a second guy? Well, perhaps Bobby April was the wrong man, too.
But something was fishy when April was fired by Martz, went to Buffalo and did
a terrific job with the Bills' special teams. The 2004 Bills finished second in
the NFL in kickoff returns, fifth in punt returns and No. 2 in stopping kickoff
So by the time Martz made a scapegoat out of Stock, everyone except Martz and
Martz's employers realized that the head coach is the real problem.
Martz doesn't care enough about special teams. He doesn't save enough roster
spots for special-teams standouts. He doesn't draft enough players to help
stock the special teams. He doesn't always keep special teams in mind when
setting the active roster for each game. Martz doesn't always give the special
teams coach extra practice time. He doesn't always give the special teams coach
the power to decide what players to use in games, which means other Rams
assistants overrule and undermine the special teams coach on personnel choices.
The day after Atlanta's 47-17 playoff victory over the Rams, Falcons coach Jim
Mora contrasted his special teams approach to Martz's - including the authority
he grants Falcons special teams coach Joe DeCamillis.
"We've made a commitment to playing very good special teams, both by the
players we keep on this team to contribute on special teams and by the time
that we commit to special teams," Mora said. "Joe knows that as much team time
as he needs to prepare us to be effective on Sundays, he's going to get from
me. That means that if he needs 15 minutes extra of meetings or practice time a
day, he's going to get it because we're committed to making sure that phase of
our game is as good as we can make it. I think that you really saw (on
Saturday) two directly conflicting strategies or philosophies about special
teams. And I kind of like our philosophy."
And unless Martz changes by making special teams a priority, he might as well
have hired that chimp.
As others see us
Writing in Sporting News, FOX football analyst Troy Aikman offered
this assessment of Martz: "Martz catches a lot of flak, and I'm not sure why.
There's some merit to the criticism - I'm still wondering why Martz is so happy
with defensive coordinator Larry Marmie - but listening to his
detractors, you'd think the guy couldn't coach a Pop Warner team.
Fact is, he's one of the best coaches in the NFL."
Speaking on the NFL channel on Sirius satellite radio, Dallas Cowboys receiver
Keyshawn Johnson said he wasn't surprised by Atlanta's blowout win
over the Rams. "I knew it all along," Johnson said. "The Rams are a lot like
their coach, full of it." ...
For a guy who claims he wants to have a peaceful co-existence with his head
coach, Martz, Kyle Turley sure has a strange way of showing it. ...
Martz really likes Russ Michna, the young QB re-signed by the team
this week. Michna was a rookie in camp last summer, and Martz thinks he can
Rams insiders say
they knew the team was in trouble before last week's disaster in Atlanta when
they saw defensive back Dwight Anderson running wild through the
Rams defense as he emulated Falcons quarterback Michael Vick for the
Re: Martz monkeys around with special teams
Apparently Bernie reads my posts. Good for him.