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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Players gear up for 'Mad Mike'

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    09/29/2006


    Hardly a week goes by when veteran Rams players don't run into one former teammate or another. Last week, it was Kurt Warner. Next week, it will be Ryan Pickett. And then, Grant Wistrom and Bryce Fisher of Seattle ... and later, Adam Archuleta of Washington ... and on and on.

    But it will be different this Sunday. "Mad Mike" himself returns to the sidelines of the Edward Jones Dome. Only this time, as defensive end Leonard Little says, "He's in a different shade of blue."

    As in Detroit Lions blue. After a tumultuous final season, in which he was sidelined by a heart ailment, engaged in open front-office feuding with Rams management and eventually was fired as head coach, Mike Martz returns to St. Louis as Detroit's offensive coordinator.

    Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa says it looks strange to see Martz wearing Lions gear.



    "But he still walks around on the sideline the same way," Tinoisamoa said.

    "He still gets that glare in his eyes," center Larry Turner added.

    The Mike Martz squint.

    "That squint; yeah, you don't want it," Tinoisamoa said.

    The squint was always a Mad Mike barometer. The more Martz squinted, the angrier he was. It might be directed at reporter's question he didn't like. Or a poorly-thrown pass by the quarterback. Or a young wide receiver who couldn't get lined up right.

    After six seasons as Rams head coach, preceded by one as offensive coordinator, was it simply time for a change?



    "I don't know. You never know," wide receiver Dane Looker said. "Obviously, Coach (Martz) got sick. That was kind of a unique situation. ... I think Coach Martz would probably tell you that he's enjoying his fresh start. It's a fresh start for him. It's a new era for the Rams.

    "I don't think anyone who played for Coach Martz has any hard feelings or animosity toward him. There should be nothing but gratitude. When you look back on your career, you're going to be thankful you played for Coach Martz and his (offensive) system."

    Those sentiments are not universally shared in the St. Louis locker room. Just ask running back Steven Jackson.

    When asked about Martz's return to St. Louis, Jackson replied, "I really don't want to touch that subject, I think I've talked about it enough. I just want to prepare for this game like it was any other game."

    Jackson, of course, was not pleased with his workload when Martz running the show.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger, who had his ups and downs with Martz, was measured in his remarks about Martz's homecoming.

    "I'm going to stick with my routine," Bulger said, when asked if he would say hello to Martz in pregame. "That doesn't mean that I don't speak with him anymore or anything. But honestly ... once I'm on the field, I'm really busy.

    "We may see each other in passing, but I'd rather speak to him after the game, or in the offseason. Because I'm sure he's the same way. This is a business trip for them. It's a big game for us this weekend. This isn't about me and him. It's about the Rams vs. the Lions."

    When asked if he was grateful that Martz had faith in him, and gave him a chance to be a starting NFL quarterback, Bulger wasn't over the top in his response.

    "As much as you can (be grateful) in football," he said. "I'm sure if I didn't play well, I would have been gone, too. That's just the way the business is. I appreciate the opportunity I got. ... I do have great respect from him. I learned a lot from him.

    "In all honesty, we're just worried about their defense. I don't even face him. He's coaching the offense. I'm facing the defense. He's not going to be on the field on Sunday."

    Well, not in the sense of playing. But with the Lions, Martz has been calling plays from the field as opposed to the coaches' box. So although he won't be introduced Sunday, fans in the Edward Jones Dome will see him strolling the sideline -- this time, on the visitor's side.

    So what kind of reception will he get from the fans?

    "I'm sure there are some people that won't give him a warm reception," offensive guard Adam Timmerman said. "But that's probably (true) with anybody. But I would think for the most part, people would be at least respectful and fairly -- what do I want to say? -- kind to him, hopefully."

    Defensive end Leonard Little added, "I don't expect him to get a bad reception, but you just never know. Because he's an opponent now, and we're playing against him. But he has done a lot for this city and for this franchise."

    There has been some talk in the locker room about Martz's return but not an overwhelming amount, according to Timmerman.

    "We've got so many new faces, that probably takes away from some of it," Timmerman said. "But I think the guys that were here last year will be happy to see him. At least I will be."

    In keeping with the "clean sweep" theme of management in the offseason, 27 players on the current Rams roster weren't around on opening day in 2005. So far, things have been a lot more normal around Rams Park than they were in 2005.

    "That's as bizarre as I've ever seen things in all my years," Timmerman said. "Because it was like something different every week. From Mike having to step down, and then Joe (Vitt) taking over, and then the whole front-office things, and then the coaches squabbling, just everything. It was like a soap opera."


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Players gear up for 'Mad Mike'

    Welcome back MM. Sorry but your O is going to be shut down Sunday and the Lions will be shaking their heads along with you as you depart the Dome Sunday evening.

    :r

  3. #3
    Varg6's Avatar
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    Re: Players gear up for 'Mad Mike'

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    Welcome back MM. Sorry but your O is going to be shut down Sunday and the Lions will be shaking their heads along with you as you depart the Dome Sunday evening.

    :r
    Sheeesh, that was a little harsh...

    I hope the shutting down his O is true, but not the whole disappointed I hate you look lol.


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

  4. #4
    letsgoramz's Avatar
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    Re: Players gear up for 'Mad Mike'

    I still love mike its kinda funny to me that a lot of people were saying he's one of the best coaches in the league in 2001 and the same people now say he never did ANYTHING good for st.louis and I say that's bull
    Torry Holt Dont play that

  5. #5
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    Re: Players gear up for 'Mad Mike'

    Quote Originally Posted by letsgoramz View Post
    I still love mike its kinda funny to me that a lot of people were saying he's one of the best coaches in the league in 2001 and the same people now say he never did ANYTHING good for st.louis and I say that's bull

    DV got us a ring, MM got us a shot at a repeat. Offensive "genus" maybe, Head Coach maybe not so much. Defense will win more games than Offense will, Defense hopefully keeps the game close enough for the offense to hopefully pull it out.

    A team game, all facets of the game needs to work well to good to get a win, talent is generally pretty even and a turnover or bad call can so easily change momentum and thus yank a defeat from the jaws of victory....

    RnD

    GO RAMS!!:l

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