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    Martz sticks to bye-week routine

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    10/25/2004

    With an inelegant defeat looming large in their rear-view mirror and the heretofore unbeatable New England Patriots just up the road, the Rams are going on vacation.

    OK, not really. But Mike Martz plans to give his troops plenty of time to heal their wounds and catch their breath during this bye week. They won't return to the practice field until Monday - six days before the defending Super Bowl-champion Patriots, 6-0 this season and winners of their past 21 games - visit the Edward Jones Dome.

    Martz said the Rams would "lift and run this week. This has been our procedure each year with bye. It's not contingent on anything other than, I've always felt like these players need time to recover physically. For about five weeks here, we've had a pretty good run, out to the (West) Coast and back (twice), and Monday night, and got things kind of off schedule a little bit. We need to let them calm down a little bit, get back physically.

    "We can come back and kind of regroup on Monday and get going again."

    Martz's method has worked to perfection in the past: He's 4-0 in games after a bye week, a record second only to Philadelphia's Andy Reid (6-0) among active NFL coaches. Martz also said he and his staff would use the extra time for evaluation - and re-evaluation - in the wake of Sunday's 31-14 loss to the previously winless Dolphins in Miami.

    "It gives us a chance sit down and look at some things," he said, "particularly any changes from a personnel standpoint that we feel like we need to make, anything we want to do differently on either side of the ball."

    Those figure to be lengthy sessions, given the multitude of breakdowns that scuttled the Rams' chances vs. the Dolphins. Martz was particularly unhappy about the shoddy special-teams play.

    "We've got to address a lot of things with our special teams," Martz said. "We need to look at our special teams in its entirety and figure out where we're going with it. ... We've started to put starters on special teams, and we shouldn't have to. Because we've got some guys, they're here because that's part of their role. We feel like we've got to compensate for those guys, and that's just not good."

    Still on top

    While the Rams were taking a header in Miami, their chief NFC West rival was committing a pratfall of its own. Seattle's 25-17 loss at Arizona kept the Rams (4-3) in first place in the division, a half-game ahead of the Seahawks (3-3). No other division leader has a record worse than 5-2.

    "It's a step-by-step process, and we need to win the division. That needs to be our focus," Martz said. "And however you get that done, that's what you have to do; whatever your record is, it is. And as long as we can stay atop the division by the end of the season, you've achieved that goal and now you're ready to move on to the next step. ...

    "So being atop the division at this point still feels good, even though it was obviously a very devastating, disappointing loss."

    Wilkins gets his kicks

    Martz knew that a Jeff would be kicking vs. the Dolphins, but he was almost certain that it would be Chandler and not Wilkins. The sprained left ankle that Wilkins suffered Oct. 18 while making a tackle on a kickoff against Tampa Bay prompted the Rams to sign Chandler last week.

    Wilkins told Martz on Sunday morning that his ankle was improved but that he was worried about his ability to get distance on his kicks. "He was concerned that the game could come down to a long field goal," Martz said. "I said, 'Physically, do you feel like you're all right?' And he said, 'Yeah, I feel pretty good.' So I told him, 'Then don't worry about it. If you miss it, you miss it.'

    "He's very competitive, and he just doesn't want to let anybody down. He was OK. He kicked the ball well."

    Wilkins hit both of his extra-point tries and didn't attempt a field goal. His three kickoffs were a little shorter than usual; they were fielded at the 5- , 15- and 12-yard lines.

    Return problems

    With Arlen Harris scrubbed because of a hamstring injury, rookie Dwight Anderson became the fourth kick returner of the season for the Rams.

    None has fared especially well: Harris and Steven Jackson are averaging 19.8 yards a return, and Mike Furrey 19.7. Anderson averaged just 17.8 yards on four returns Sunday and missed an obvious hole on one run.


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    Re: Martz sticks to bye-week routine

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith
    Martz's method has worked to perfection in the past: He's 4-0 in games after a bye week, a record second only to Philadelphia's Andy Reid (6-0) among active NFL coaches.
    Can't really argue with that, I guess.

    I just hope that the players, not just the staff, will be spending some of this extra time reviewing tape about what went wrong in Miami.
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