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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    Rams fire Mike Stock

    Mike Martz punts special teams coach
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    01/20/2005

    Less than a week after concluding the season with a thud against Atlanta, the Rams have two vacancies on Mike Martz's coaching staff.

    Special teams coach Mike Stock has been fired, and secondary coach Perry Fewell has been hired by Chicago to coach the Bears' secondary.

    Stock, 65, was with the Rams one season and becomes the third special teams coach to come and go in Martz's five seasons as head coach. Larry Pasquale was fired after one season in 2000, and Bobby April's contract was not renewed after three seasons with the club (2001-03).

    "I've got nothing negative to say," Stock said Thursday night. "They've been very nice to me. It's been a real honor to be here. I feel bad because we didn't produce more. I feel very embarrassed that we didn't perform to the level that I've been used to."

    A former fullback for legendary coach Ara Parseghian at Northwestern, Stock came to St. Louis with a reputation as a tough, old-school style of coach. Which was just what Martz was looking for.

    "He's hard-nosed. He pays attention to all the little details of each phase of special teams," Martz said, at the time Stock was hired one year ago.

    Like Pasquale and April before him, Stock came to St. Louis with a well-established reputation in NFL coaching circles. Stock had spent 12 of his previous 14 NFL seasons coaching special teams in Cincinnati, Kansas City and Washington. He was named NFL special teams coach of the year in 1997 with the Chiefs.

    "I think what I've been able to accomplish up to this time speaks for itself," Stock said Thursday.

    But like Pasquale and April before him, Stock was unable to get the Rams' special teams on track.

    "My year here is just basically a continuation of what's happened in the past," Stock said, referring to the special teams problems here that preceded him. "But I don't know if anything's going to change."

    The Rams have been struggling to find kickoff-return and punt-return men since the departure of Tony Horne and Az-Zahir Hakim. Unlike many NFL teams, St. Louis uses very few starters on special teams - and the backups didn't get much done this season covering kicks and blocking for return men. The Rams finished at or near the bottom of the league in almost every major special teams category.

    "I was just happy for the opportunity," Stock said. "The Rams are a great organization."

    He just would have liked more of an opportunity.

    "It's too bad that I couldn't have another chance," Stock said. "I don't think one year's a way to gauge, or a way to measure, or find out about what a guy can do, or what a guy can't do, either as a player or a coach."

    The Rams struggled on returns and coverage most of the season, although the kickoff coverage improved in the playoffs with the return of wide receiver Mike Furrey and defensive end Erik Flowers to the coverage unit.

    But there were plenty of lowlights throughout the season. The Rams' longest kickoff return of the season was a modest 31 yards by Aveion Cason. Punt returner Shaun McDonald had only five returns go for more than 10 yards.

    On Nov. 21 in Buffalo, the punt returns of the Bills' Nate Clements - including an 86-yarder for a touchdown in the third quarter - helped bury the Rams.

    In the critical regular-season finale, Jerricho Cotchery almost turned the game around for the New York Jets with a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter.

    But it might have been the punt coverage in the Rams' 47-17 playoff loss to Atlanta that led to Stock's dismissal. In that game, Allen Rossum of the Falcons returned three punts for an NFL-record 152 yards, including a 68-yard return for a TD late in the second quarter.

    Meanwhile, Fewell was reunited in Chicago with Bears head coach Lovie Smith, who was Rams defensive coordinator from 2001 through 2003. Fewell, 42, joined the Rams in 2003 after spending the previous five seasons coaching defensive backs in Jacksonville.

    Under Fewell's watch, Aeneas Williams made a successful switch to safety from cornerback in 2003, earning a Pro Bowl berth. The Rams' secondary picked off 14 passes, and Jerametrius Butler emerged from fringe player status to become a solid starter.

    But partly because of injuries, the play of the secondary regressed in '04. Rams defensive backs picked off only six passes during the regular season, and the Rams had trouble developing a third cornerback or backup safeties.

    Martz was not pleased with the play of the secondary for much of the season. In turn, sources at Rams Park say Fewell wanted more say in calling coverages than he got under defensive coordinator Larry Marmie.

    In any event, the Rams could have blocked the move, because Fewell still had a year left on his St. Louis contract.

    Martz could not be reached to comment Thursday.

    Furrey, Harris sign

    The club announced the signing of nine players as it begins building its 80-man offseason and preseason roster: WR Mike Furrey, RB Arlen Harris, LB Drew Wahlroos, TE Mike Brake, WR Michael Coleman, RB Dusty McGrorty, QB Russ Michna, OT Matt Morgan and LB Tony Newson. All are believed to be one-year deals.

    Special teams carousel

    With Mike Stock's firing, the Rams' next special teams coach will be the fourth in six seasons under Mike Martz:

    Larry Pasquale--2000
    Rams lost 3 onside kicks, lost 4 muffed punts, lost a fumbled kickoff return and had a blocked punt return for a TD.

    Bobby April - 2001-03
    Rams yielded 10 special teams touchdowns while scoring only one during April's tenure.

    Mike Stock - 2004
    Rams finished last in kickoff coverage; 31st in punt returns and kickoff returns; and 30th in punt coverage.

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  2. #2
    elAcky Guest

    Re: Rams fire Mike Stock

    the poor guy never had a chance..... it going to be difficult to get an decent experienced ST coach to come to St Louis

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    Re: Rams fire Mike Stock

    Quote Originally Posted by elAcky
    the poor guy never had a chance..... it going to be difficult to get an decent experienced ST coach to come to St Louis


    It really does not matter what kind of experience the next ST coach brings with him. Five years of Martz's apathy towards ST's has shown us that there will always be serious problems with these units.

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    Re: Rams fire Mike Stock

    The only consolation I take from this move is the fact that sMartz fired one of his Deadmen Walking. Maybe this means he will follow it up with burying another DeadMan - Marmie.

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    Re: Rams fire Mike Stock

    We need more starters on S.T. that's all there is to it...until we do that...they will always stink..it's obvious that it isn't the S.T. coach :disappoin

  6. #6
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    Re: Rams fire Mike Stock

    Not necessarily starters but we need Special Teams stars. I say we start by bringing back Don Davis and Scott Shanle. They're both unrestricted free agents. If Leonard Little is on the team next year he needs to be out there though.

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    Re: Rams fire Mike Stock

    Mike Stock is a high quality ST coach. His track record is a proven winner. If he can't come in here and do anything with the personnel he's given, then it is obvious the problem is not the ST coach (for further example, look at Bobby April this year in Buffalo).

    If we put all of our 2nd string in on offense or defense, they would be horrible. Then why does Martz expect differently from his special teams?
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  8. #8
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    Re: Rams fire Mike Stock

    I do believe it is the LB'S you need out there, They are fast and are normally your best Tacklers!
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

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    Re: Special Teams coaching.

    I've said this before, but can't say it enough. On the NFL channel, I watched "in their own words" with Bill Parcells. The guy was watching the punt returners field punts in practice. He would pull guys aside and tell them over and over and over to make sure they are far enough back so that they can come UP to catch the punt vs. going backwards....

    He explained to them that while you are taking backwards steps to catch the ball, and requires 2 additional backwards steps after you've caught the ball, the opponents are takine 2-3 steps towards you. In effect, meaning that they have gained 5 yards on you, plus you have to get your moment changed directions, which really makes 6-7 yards difference if you had just been back far enough, caught the ball, and went forward.

    ON ALMOST EVERY SINGLE (non-fair catch) PUNT FIELDED BY MACDONALD THIS YEAR, HE WAS GOING BACKWARDS.

    I don't get it. How could anyone be a good special teams coach without engraining this one simple rule of fielding a punt?

    And with Wilkins kicking every other kick-off to the 15 yard line, how could you not have tried the new punter (stimpe?) at kick-offs? A lot of teams use the punter for kick-offs because they often have a stronger leg.

    And why wouldn't a team like the Rams punt the ball out of bounds? It's legal? Why kick it to the guy?

    I give up. I pitty the next guy who takes on this job because apparently it's one of those things you're either good at as a team, or not.

  10. #10
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    Re: Special Teams coaching.

    Quote Originally Posted by sbramfan
    And why wouldn't a team like the Rams punt the ball out of bounds? It's legal?
    I think you hit the nail on the head with the question mark. There must be some question as to what is allowable and not on the SpecialEd Teams. Apparently when technique failed someone forgot strategy was available.

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    Re: Special Teams coaching.

    Quote Originally Posted by sbramfan
    ON ALMOST EVERY SINGLE (non-fair catch) PUNT FIELDED BY MACDONALD THIS YEAR, HE WAS GOING BACKWARDS.
    Absolutely spot on! The fact that this was not addressed throughout the entire season tells us two things:

    1. MacDonald is stupid, because anyone whohad half a brain would have worked out by week four that even taking a fair catch every time would have been better.

    2. The Special Teams Coach didn't have a clue. If he had he would have told MacDonald about this at once and taken him off returning punts if he didn't listen.

    Martz has to take some of the blame too. He must have noticed that Bobby April has now done better with the better personnel at his disposal with the Bills. I do wonder how Martz can have coached the Rams for 5 years, and not realised that it can't all be down to his Special Teams Coach.

    Martz also needs to realise that his Defense was awful last season. Even previously good players like Archuleta sucked, and that has GOT to be down to poor coaching. Marmie must go, or we can write off the 2005 campaign efore it starts.

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    Re: Rams fire Mike Stock

    Quote Originally Posted by Kane
    Archuleta sucked
    Archuleta played with an injury most of this season.
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    Re: Rams fire Mike Stock

    Quote Originally Posted by Yodude
    Archuleta played with an injury most of this season.
    OK. But he still sucked. The fact he tried to play thru injury just means he gets another chance next year.

    Can't say the same for sMarmie. There is no way Arch should have been trying to cover Crumpler on the TD. Watching him do the same things as early in the year was more painful than any back injury.

  14. #14
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Rams fire Mike Stock

    Quote Originally Posted by adarian_too
    OK. But he still sucked. The fact he tried to play thru injury just means he gets another chance next year.

    Can't say the same for sMarmie. There is no way Arch should have been trying to cover Crumpler on the TD. Watching him do the same things as early in the year was more painful than any back injury.
    In hindsight, you have to wonder if it would have been worth sitting Archuleta for a month or so (perhaps around the bye week) to try and get him back toward 100% rather than try and have him play at anywhere between 60-70% all year.
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  15. #15
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    Re: Rams fire Mike Stock

    Honestly , with all of the injuries this year , Strategy kinda went out the window. Sometimes you got to improvise.
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

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