BY JEFF GORDON
Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
09/21/2004
Guess what? Rams Nation did not take that 34-17 shellacking at Atlanta very well. Some of our readers became agitated with coach Mike Martz, which is hardly a news flash.

Here is this week's first sampling of the electronic mail received by the staff at "Letters to Gordo:"




"Here we go again. Am I the only fan with the ringing in my ear of that infamous phrase, 'deja vu all over again'? Didn't Sunday's game look a little familiar? Marc Bulger looked a lot like Kurt Warner did in Game One last year against the Giants. Oh, and wasn't Orlando Pace a holdout last year, too? The 'Pancake' looked more like the 'Waffle,' trying to protect Bulger. With Turley out, the Rams had a replacement lineman trying to protect the quarterback and he was repeatedly burned. Therefore, another familiar sight was Martz not moving his quarterback left or right when things fell apart on the offensive line.

"The 'genius' looked like your ordinary continuation student, trying to earn his GED. Are all of the Warner bashers of last year now bashing Bulger, or is everyone realizing that it may be the system, not the quarterback? When will Martz realize that it may be better to adjust his protection rather than have five formations take place on one play? When will Martz hire someone to sit up in the booth and warn him not to challenge plays that have no merit to be challenged?"

-- Scott McGowen, Folsom, Calif.


GORDO: Bulger was outstanding until that one sequence where he was stripped of the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. He was playing pitch-and-catch all day with Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. But all those penalties, combined with the lack of a running game, combined with the inability to corral Michael Vick, led to defeat.


* * *

"How much longer are we to put up with undisciplined sandlot football? When Dick Vermeil left, disciplined football went with him. Every week this team shows up relying on its speed and athleticism to overpower the opponent. Guess what? A lot of other teams caught up to the Rams' speed. What's more, you can sit in your living room and call the plays Martz will call -- he has become that predictable. We should have keep Lovie Smith and sent him to the Bears."

-- Jim Lindstrom


GORDO: The sloppy game management seemed to carry over into all phases of the Rams' play Sunday. And sloppy play won't cut it, not against this difficult schedule. There are plenty of elite defenses remaining on the docket. If Mad Mike doesn't regain his tactical magic, it could get ugly.


* * *

"Martz has regressed dramatically as a coach and plugged into his good ol' boy network, where loyalty to him is more important than being a good coach. It will doom him to abject failure this year. He has lost touch with who he is and who the fans are. Great example is bringing in an old friend on his way down -- defensive coordinator Larry Marmie, who is from the Deadbirds, who were bad fundamentally on D.

"Who are the playmakers on D? They just have a bunch of guys running around who aren't big hitters or big play dudes. Robert Thomas is the least effective middle linebacker I have seen play in the NFL, after Jamie Duncan. He does almost nothing out there with no instincts for where the play will be.

"Worse, the Rams are BORING. Mad Mike's idiotic challenges . . . the rest of the league has one coach who watches replays. He has lost his play-calling touch and can't go for big plays because his weak-armed quarterback is totally inaccurate past mid-range. The Rams are no longer Must See TV. My wife is so happy that she can plan on me working around the house on Sundays! Oh the humanity!"

-- Keith Walker


GORDO: You would rather do chores than watch the Rams play on TV? Man, it IS getting tough out there. Folks are ready to put down the chips and pick up a hammer.


* * *

"Fullback? Tight end? I'm not sure why we have these positions on this team. The tight ends have no receptions and can't block. The same goes for the fullbacks on this team. Basically Martz is a joke and we play 9 on 11. It's not real tough to draw up a defensive game plan for us. Am I missing something?"

-- Anthony Markofsky


GORDO: Not really. Tight end Brandon Manumaleuna's strength is his receiving, not his blocking, so the team needs to use that skill to justify his salary. Fullback Joey Goodspeed had a brutal Sunday on special teams, but he is supposed to be a strong lead blocker. Perhaps the Rams could actually use him in that role.


* * *

"Is any info seeping into the brains of the Rams owners? Do they know that Martz and our Rams are quickly becoming the laughingstock of all the morning football shows? Do they know that all the announcers of the Rams games are openly taking shots at Martz? Jimmy Johnson said he 'hates a team that is so arrogant that it does not seem to be concerned by stupid penalties, wasted timeouts, and turnovers.'

"Howie Long said 'the Rams fans were booing after the Cardinals game because they didn't know the score, and probably thought the Rams had lost.' Troy Aikman took several shots at Martz for disputing obvious calls, and wasting more timeouts. It seemed like it took four officials to explain to Mike that there was no logical point to argue on the end zone take-away play.

"I love the Rams, but I hate being the brunt of well-deserved jokes. Mike is obviously busy on the sidelines trying to micro-manage the offense (which he is fabulous at), but can't we get a real head coach to actually see what is happening on the field, and be aware of what is going on?

-- Douglas Ferguson, Chandler, Ariz.


GORDO: We saw Georgia a few Sundays back at The Ed and she was all smiles. So it's probably going to take more than a 1-1 start to get her to fret over her head coach.