BY JEFF GORDON
Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
09/30/2004

Online Columnist Jeff Gordon

The electronic mail has poured in from across the continent this week – and most it has been pretty angry. Rams Nation has grown rather impatient with the team's head coach.

Mike Martz has played the role of pinata again this week after that agonizing overtime loss to the Saints at the Edward Jones Dome. Here is another sampling of the missives sent to the "Letters to Gordo" bin:


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"Does Martz look like the poster boy for insanity or what? Bryan Burwell was asking good, fair questions that the fans want answered and he got into that (ticked) mode where he wants to attack the messenger, and I loved the way Bryan quietly zinged him back. Martz is determined to go down with the ship rather than make needed adjustments.

"His offense has been analyzed to death by other coaches and they know how to stop him. He has become so predictable. Indy, the Patriots and several others are much more innovative. Plus, he has never learned the details of the head coaching job, like closing out a game. That will doom him to the head coach scrap heap. Like the Coryell era, this too has passed -- and unlike Don, Martz is self-imploding with his idiotic stubborness.

"He is doomed; even the Martz rationalizers online had their eyes opened up Sunday. Camelot is over. Mike Martz lost his Mojo. Now he is just another white-haired guy with glasses who doesn't get it."

-- Keith Walker


GORDO: Is Martz doomed? We'll know soon enough. The Rams have an unforgiving schedule in the weeks ahead, one that will punish the team if their sloppiness continues. If the Rams can reach the postseason after this 1-2 start, as they did last season, then we'll have to give Mad Mike his props.


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" 'That's just the way it is. Get used to it.' Maybe we should . . . with another head coach. One that knows something about defense."

-- John Robison, San Antonio


GORDO: Martz rebuilt this defense once as a head coach. Given all the free-agent losses on that side of the ball, he has to do it again. Is he up to the task? The weeks ahead will tell the tale, since several high draft picks will HAVE to step it up.


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"I am a fairly level-headed football fan, who prides myself in focusing on intricacies of the game that some of my friends overlook. I am not typically one to impulsively blame a team's misfortunes on bad coaching. That being said, Martz is awful! On any given weekend, I may watch parts of three or four games. I only notice conspicuously bad play-calling, or hear an announcer comment on bad play-calling, about once per month. However, it seems like Martz makes conspicuously bad coaching decisions every week.

"It is pathetic to watch Martz excel as an assistant, but come up so glaringly short as a head coach. If this keeps up, I am afraid the team will quit on him. It must be demoralizing for a player who has devoted his whole life (possibly sacrificing long-term physical health in the process) to football, only to watch his efforts derailed weekly by abysmal coaching. Parenthetically, why is the St. Louis media so soft on Martz? Is there some sort of 'Blue Wall of Silence' surrounding the criticism of home team coaches, or an 11th Commandment 'Thou shall not be too critical of the home team coach?'

"Martz's colossal incompetence has already been exposed on the world stage two years ago in New Orleans; why doesn't the Rams' brass at minimum, pull him into an office, and give him a good dressing down? Again, I emphasize, I am not your usual shrill, fickle fan. The Rams may only have the talent to win seven games this year. If that is the case, I would rather cheer for a 7-9 quality team with a coherent, weekly game plan (i.e. Skins/Lions) than a 7-9 team that continuously is shackled by inept coaching. This guy makes Jerry Glanville look like George Halas."

-- Marc Curry


GORDO: Ouch! That Glanville/Halas shot is one of the best blows ever landed by a "Letters to Gordo" participant. The media has certainly questioned Martz over and over again this week, so we're not THAT soft.

The media hasn't written off Mad Mike entirely because he still has the opportunity to pull off a great coaching accomplishment this season. But it the Rams do go 7-9, then, yes, it could get a little ugly in this corner of cyberspace and everywhere else.


(Editor's Note: Curry's letter proves a fundamental truth about those who write "Letters to Gordo" or letters to the editor. The ones who characterize themselves as "not your usual shrill, fickle fan" usually are either the most shrill, the most fickle, or both. "Blue Wall of Silence"? "11th Commandment"? Come on.)


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"Without a single doubt THE worst coach in the NFL."

-- John Isselhardt


GORDO: His won-loss record says otherwise. Yes, the Rams have talent. But the Rams have also turned over that roster a couple of times and are using their share of kids, wounded warriors and guys pulled off the street. It's tough to win in the NFL – which is why so many big-name coaches have losing records this season.


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"This team is not good. They make too many mental mistakes and the defense is horrible. As soon as Bulger scored with 28 seconds left, I looked at my wife and said that is too much time and the Saints kicker is dead-on. This team would be smart to lose at least 10 and look forward to the draft. Needs: Defensive back, defensive back, defensive back -- I would spend my first three rounds on defensive backs. I would trade down for multiple picks."

-- Terry Hovis, Jacksonville, Fla.


GORDO: It's a little early to start looking forward to the next NFL Draft. Give it a few more weeks.


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"Do I have an opinion about this pinhead? YEAH !! Have someone else call the plays, he stinks and always has. He loses his cool when things go wrong, and worst of all, he loves the DEEP PASS. I was under the impression that you need 10 yards to get a first down, or have the rules changed. Mad Dog will pass deep time and time again, when it's third and two, or third and three, when the odds for getting that first down are much, much better with a short pass or run. Stupid is what stupid does."

-- Loren Ellis


GORDO: Martz has mostly worked the short to intermediate routes this year, which explains the high completion percentage. You have to take shots downfield from time to time to stretch the defense and create seams and holes to throw into. He hasn't been bomb-happy at all.


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"It is unbelievable to me how arrogant Mike Martz is. He says if we want a running attack, get another coach. I agree. Get another coach.

"He runs a one-dimensional offense in a league where a running attack is critical to making the passing attack work. A running attack is vital to winning. Why else did he draft a running back No. 1, a running back who led the NFL in rushing in the preseason, a running back who has averaged over five yards a carry. A running attack uses up the clock. It keeps the other team's offense off the field. It gives your team's defense rest, and the Rams defense certainly could stand more rest and less playing time. It takes the pressure off the passer.

"His philosophy nearly ruined Kurt Warner and it will also put Marc Bulger in the quarterback graveyard. Martz and his arrogance have got to go. It has cost the Rams a Super Bowl victory. It cost the Rams a victory over Carolina last year and has already cost the Rams two victories this year. Steve Jackson should be starting and Marshall Faulk should be his relief and Martz should be looking for another job."

-- David Carpenter, Stockton, Calif.


GORDO: Let's not bury Faulk just yet. He looked like his old self in Week 1. Even last week, he made some tough runs in vital short yardage and red zone situations. Give him enough touches and some run blocking and he will still move the sticks