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Martz sees good karma in these Rams
By Bryan Burwell
Of the Post-Dispatch
Saturday, Jul. 23 2005
In the waning weeks before the most important training camp of his professional
coaching life, Mike Martz took an accidental trip down memory lane. At the
start of a lengthy summer vacation, he and his wife, Julie, flew to San Diego
on a house-hunting expedition, in search of the perfect vacation home. Yet
after several frustrating days filled with too many houses with rotten views,
shocking asking prices or both, their real-estate agent suggested they take a
look at a "fixer-upper" that was about to go on the market.
"He starts to describe where it was," Martz said. "And I looked at him and
said, 'I think I know this place.' "
The old house actually sat just behind the church where Mike and Julie Martz
were married nearly three decades earlier. So as they approached their old
stomping grounds, Mike and Julie both started grinning like giddy school kids,
because it was the first time they'd returned to the church since their wedding
day. And if that wasn't already enough of an emotional rush, the arousing
stimuli was about to go off the charts.
"We'd been seeing all these houses with outlandish price tags and so-called
'ocean views,' " Martz said as he retold the story last week at Rams Park.
"Well they were only 'ocean views' if you bent your neck around six different
ways, the leaves fell off all the trees and the wind was blowing really hard so
that the one tree bent way back . . . and then if you squinted
reeeealllly hard . . ."
By now, they were inside the old house, and as they opened the sliding glass
doors, they couldn't believe the view from this otherwise unimpressive old home
that sat snugly on the edge of this hillside. It was an unexpected, breathless
panorama of both city and sea.
"It was unbelievable, just breathtaking," Martz said. "And to top it all off,
it's right behind the church where we got married? How's that for luck?"
If you are into such ethereal things as luck, omens and karma, then don't you
wonder if the successful but highly controversial Martz, entering his sixth
season running the Rams, can keep this karmic joyride floating dizzily into his
most significant training camp and season in his tenure as head coach?
His defenders see no reason to think the good times won't continue to roll.
They like to remind you that he led the Rams to the postseason for the fourth
time in five seasons last season. They'll tell you he has the fourth-best
winning percentage of any active head coach in the regular season.
Yet they also will tell you they know his critics are lurking, swiping at him
because of his lightning-rod personality and his unconventional, gun-slinging
offensive style. Yet now both friend and foe are in full agreement.
Justifiable or not, if he doesn't win big, this season could well be Martz's
closing act in St. Louis. Martz knows what they are saying, too. But he acts as
if the heat on his neck is a sun lamp, not a bonfire.
"You can't help but hear it in the national media, and yeah, I am puzzled by
it," he said. "But I understand that my personality may be such that I rub some
people the wrong way. But whatever it is, my whole focus now is (only) how
these players feel. If I got my guys, it doesn't matter what anybody else
thinks. If I can get my guys to play for me, that's what's important."
Coming off an often rocky 8-8 season that on reflection was a reconstruction
project and included a surprising late-season surge to the playoffs, a lot of
positive renovations continued during the offseason. Steven Jackson was
promoted to starting tailback. Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Pace signed a
long-term deal and won't be a training-camp holdout. The defense and special
teams were completely overhauled, and the rookie draft class has several
With training camp opening on Thursday at Rams Park, Martz sounded as if he's
convinced the karma will continue to flow. "Am I certain we will be good?" he
said. "There's no such thing as certain, but everything I've seen in the spring
leads me to anticipate that things will be better . . . All and all, I think we
have a chance to be very competitive."
Re: Martz sees good karma in these Rams
I would be really upset if they fire Martz after this season, unless it's some kind of complete catastrophe (0-16?) where he completely loses the players' support or something extreme like that.
I love coach Martz and his style and I would hate for us to bring in some no-name boring traditionalist football coach that would bring the Rams back to mediocrity. He gives the Rams a very interesting personality, and, in all honesty, is doing great... he still wins way more games than he loses and despite what some of you may say, he CAN win in the playoffs. After all, he got us to the SB in '01 and we would have won it if not for the staged referee BS (and perhaps our overconfidence... but he has since learned from that mistake and it isn't all HIS fault), did decently well vs the Panthers two years later (I pin alot of that loss on Bulger's terrible day... don't get me wrong though... I love the modern, deep-ball-throwing Marc), and owned the Seahawks last year. The problems with the Rams in the playoffs have been things that are either out of his control or things that he has pointedly corrected.
I stand behind Mike barring a catastrophy. Prove my confidence right Coach M.