Words can't do justice to describe QB's ineptitude
By Bryan Burwell
Of the Post-Dispatch
Sunday, Dec. 19 2004

TEMPE, Ariz. - Before we get to the really heavy lifting in the wreckage of
this disastrous Rams season, let's shove some of the light debris out of the
way first.

Cut Chris Chandler right now.

Don't waste another day or another ounce of aggravation on someone who clearly
doesn't care enough about his job to prepare properly to help his team win. The
Rams' postseason hopes have all but disintegrated in the span of the two weeks,
and in the aftermath of another catastrophic defeat that has his fingerprints
all over it, Chandler is the easiest (though clearly not the only) culprit to
identify.

Somehow, after 17 years in the National Football League, the 39-year-old
Chandler has mysteriously forgotten how to play quarterback, as evidenced by
his pitiful display in Sunday's 31-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. One week
after playing one of the worst games I've ever seen a proven, veteran NFL
quarterback play (six interceptions and three sacks in a 20-7 loss to
Carolina), Chandler outdid himself against the Cardinals.

I cannot overstate how bad this guy stunk up half-empty Sun Devil Stadium. In
only one spectacularly abysmal quarter of play, Chandler completed one of six
passes for 1 lousy yard, was sacked twice, threw an interception and had a 0.0
passer rating. By the time Mike Martz yanked him at the end of the first
quarter, the Rams had already fallen behind 10-0 and had been outgained in
total offensive yards 108 to minus-20.

Here's how his day went out here in the Arizona desert, and too bad it wasn't a
mirage.

Three and out.

Three and out.

Interception.

Three and out.

Benched.

He was beyond bad. He was flat-out incompetent, and maybe worse than that.
Incompetence, as bad as it might be, is at least excusable. But indifference is
an unpardonable transgression. You expect a rookie to play incompetently. You
might even expect a free agent, walking in cold off the street, to be clueless.
But who could expect a 17-year veteran who has been to two Pro Bowls, won an
NFC championship and played in the scorching heat of a Super Bowl, to play
without a clue, and with so little passion?
Chandler was not only bad, he was calling passes when he was supposed to be
calling a running plays. He was throwing to the wrong receivers. He was
floating balls like they were filled with helium. And when he wasn't doing
that, he was showing all the mobility of an oak tree, feet deeply rooted in the
ground and unable to move out of the way of the various blitzes the Cards were
throwing at him.

How does this happen? Was Chandler so traumatized from last week's bad
experience that he was paralyzed with fear this week? Was he sleeping in
meetings and didn't know the game plan? Was the wireless microphone in his
helmet picking up shortwave signals from Sri Lanka? Did his dog eat his
playbook?

"Guys, I don't know," said a seething Mike Martz in the head coach's postgame
news conference. "I am baffled by it."

"I ... I ... I ... I have no idea," wide receiver Torry Holt said,
uncomfortably trying to avoid the conversation. "I have no answers. Next
question."

"You'll have to ask Chris," said Marshall Faulk. "Did you guys talk to Chris?"

Uhhhh, no we did not. Unable to show mobility on the field, Chandler displayed
brilliant escapability off the field, bolting from the locker room before any
reporters came in.

If Martz has any sense, he would cut Chandler today regardless of the minimal
salary cap implications. If you can gauge anything from his postgame comments,
it's not out of the question that he would do such a thing. Martz was so
disgusted with Chandler after the game that he never mentioned Chandler's name.
He referred to Chandler once as "that position," and again as "that scenario."
He called him "the quarterback," "him" and a couple of "he's."

But here's the thing. I really don't blame Chris Chandler. I blame the man who
hired Chris Chandler. I blame the man who created a game plan that put Chris
Chandler in a position to wreck whatever slim chances the Rams had at securing
first place in the NFC West.

Martz is the guy who designed a game plan that was doomed from the outset with
play-calling that exposed all of Chandler's weaknesses. After seeing him for a
full four quarters against the Carolina Panthers, was there something Martz saw
that the rest of us didn't? Couldn't he see that Chandler was playing like an
old man who was just looking for someplace to lay down and retire? Chandler was
so skittish and gun shy out there against the Panthers that it was pointless -
and self-defeating - to bother placing the weight of the offense on his back
against the Cardinals.

Why would Martz open the game with so much reliance on Chandler's passing?

When asked that very question, Martz responded with this little gem: "Their
defense is pretty good."

No, it isn't. Their defense is wretched. The Cardinals are the 30th worst
defense against the run in the NFL. They were giving up an average of 142 yards
a game. Out of the previous 13 games Arizona has played, that "pretty good"
defense has allowed opponents to gain at least 120 yards rushing 10 times. With
Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson suited up and ready to play, why on earth
would you even think about throwing the ball, particularly when the Cards were
blitzing on nearly every down?

With so much hinging on this game, with a chance to reclaim first place in the
sorry NFC West after the Seattle Seahawks were crushed in New York on Sunday,
all Martz had to do was resist his pass-twitch muscles and (let me clear my
throat a bit) ... RUN THE BALL!!!!

But he wouldn't do it. He couldn't do it. He put the game in the hands of an
old, clueless quarterback who failed miserably. And now Martz will spend the
final two weeks of this season not only fighting to keep his team's faint
playoff hopes alive, but also trying to keep a firm grip on his job. Right now,
both are on life support, and Dr. Kevorkian is hovering over the switch.