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  1. #1
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    Martz, Rams tackle their problems

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, Nov. 10 2004

    If he was Mad Mike on Monday, he became Really Mad Mike on Wednesday.

    The 2004 season has reached the critical-mass stage, and Mike Martz is doing
    everything he can to salvage it. Never mind the standings, the division race,
    or Sunday's NFC West showdown with Seattle. At the moment, Martz just wants the
    Rams to start playing better. A lot better.

    "I think the way we played in the last two games is embarrassing," Martz said
    Wednesday. "Not so much whether you win or lose the game - just the way we
    played the game. Period. We're going to do everything we can to rectify that."

    Including full-contact scrimmage work in practice.

    During the nine-on-seven run period, the first-team offense worked against the
    scout team defense. Then, the first-team defense worked against the scout team

    With live tackling in both sessions. Yes, the Rams engaged in some live contact
    in training camp this summer, but those drills were performed almost totally by
    backups. Wednesday's work involved starters - basically everyone but running
    back Marshall Faulk on offense, and safety Aeneas Williams on defense.

    Scrimmaging in the regular season is unheard of in today's NFL. And it was a
    first for the "St. Louis" Rams. Not even in the Dick Vermeil days of three-hour
    practices did the Rams go full-contact.

    Longtime team officials said the Rams hadn't engaged in live practice
    scrimmaging in practice since the 1980s, during John Robinson's tenure as head

    So Wednesday's work might fall under the category of desperate measures in
    desperate times. Martz wants the Rams to be more physical, and play a more
    violent brand of football. He wants them to block better. Tackle better.
    Compete better. Live tackling work in practices was a cattle prod to get that
    point across.

    "We've got a core of guys that you can hang your hat on," Martz said. "You can
    get out in the middle of the night, go out and practice them, and you're going
    to get all they've got.

    "What we're trying to do is get the rest of the guys up to that level. We were
    there for a while, and we've fallen off a little bit in a couple of key areas."

    So Wednesday's scrimmaging, coupled with Martz's message to the team Monday
    about accountability, are aimed at an attitude adjustment.

    "This is a game of attitude, pure and simple," Martz said. "It's not about
    ability. Never has been, never will be. Everybody in this league's got ability
    to play. Everybody's talented. Everybody's fast. Everybody's big. Everybody's
    strong. If you think that's the difference, you're sorely mistaken. This is
    purely a game of attitude."

    Martz made his remarks during his regular Wednesday press conference in the
    team auditorium. These sessions usually last about 15 minutes, but this one was
    over in five. Martz was a picture of intensity. It was almost as if he wanted
    to get out on the practice field as soon as possible, so that HE could tackle
    somebody. And that led to some, uh, very interesting answers:

    When asked if looking at the tape of the Rams' dramatic comeback
    over Seattle on Oct. 10 could have an energizing effect, Martz snarled: "I
    don't need to look at a tape to get energized. Not me. I don't have to look at
    a tape to go to a happy place to get energized. That's just not who I am.

    When asked if he would talk to Rams veterans about the current state
    of affairs, Martz replied:

    "No. Nobody's going to voice anything to me," he said. "We don't hold hands,
    and get in a seance, and (sing) 'Kumbaya, my Lord.' I'm not into that.

    "We've got a direction we're going in. You're on the train or you're not. ... I
    know where I'm going and you're either with me or you're not."

    On Monday, Martz put his players on notice, saying they needed to be
    accountable for how they played. He indicated that he was tired of taking
    "bullets" for them in public, adding that some players the Rams had been
    counting on weren't producing.

    Players interviewed Wednesday expressed no problem with those sentiments.

    "This is a player's league," defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson said. "It's always
    been and always will be. ... The coaches can only put you in position. But once
    the ball's snapped, Mike Martz can't help us. Larry Marmie can't help us. Bill
    Kollar can't help us. When the ball's snapped, we've got to go get the guy with
    the ball and have a mean attitude when we get there."

    Quarterback Marc Bulger said: "It's on the players every week. If (Martz) says
    that this week, and we didn't realize it till he brought it up, then there's
    obviously a problem. I'm sure he's speaking to some guys that maybe don't
    understand that this is your job, and it's not going to go on the coach every
    time. He's taken the heat for us probably too much."

    And for any players who still didn't get the point, along came Wednesday's
    scrimmage. Linebacker Trev Faulk, for one, had no complaints about such a
    radical approach.

    "We gave up 40 points (to New England)," Faulk said. "So whatever it takes to
    get this thing right, I'm all up for it. Because I just want to win."

  2. #2
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Martz, Rams tackle their problems

    Dude, I totally posted this already.

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