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  • Martz reflects: Rams on the bubble may be in trouble

    Martz reflects: Rams on the bubble may be in trouble
    By Jim Thomas

    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/14/2004




    MACOMB, Ill. - Mike Martz looked downright sour after the game Thursday. He barely said anything to his team in the locker room. He answered only a handful of questions in his postgame news conference. And then he retired to the privacy of his locker room area at the Edward Jones Dome to stew over the Rams' 13-10 overtime loss to Chicago.

    "Down deep inside, you can play marbles, and my blood's going to get going," Martz said Saturday. "I mean, you just compete."

    For most of the first three quarters Thursday, the Rams did just that. It wasn't always pretty. But the Rams were winning 10-3, and when the Bears took over at their 12 late in the third quarter, St. Louis had a 248 to 161 edge in yards gained.

    "I felt like we were in control," Martz said. "They had a couple big runs where we just overran things. Otherwise, I think we shut them down really good. And I know that first group in there on offense - I think they're ready to roll."

    In a game that Chicago seemed to treat a lot more like a regular-season contest - with lots of blitzing on defense and some trick plays on offense - the Rams still appeared to be headed for victory.

    But then it unraveled over the rest of regulation and the 17 seconds of overtime, when the Rams were mainly using players who either won't make the team or will be down on the depth chart.

    "I knew what was going on out there, and it's hard to bite the bullet sometimes," Martz said. "But I just don't like to lose. ... But I also know that it's my responsibility as a head coach to make sure that we have an opportunity to evaluate all these (young) guys in these types of situations."

    So Martz and new defensive coordinator Larry Marmie kept things basic - and watched.

    "We've got to know about these guys," Martz said. "You can't trick things up. You've got to kind of keep it simple and just let 'em play and see what they do."

    By early Saturday evening, after film review and with nearly two days to digest the game, the big picture was back in focus for Martz. And he felt much better about what transpired Thursday night.

    "All in all, I was very pleased, particularly in the first half with both groups (offense and defense)," Martz said. "I'm happy with this football team. I'm happy with the first (units) that I know we're going to play with."

    On the offensive line, he singled out the play of right guard Adam Timmerman and right tackle Scott Tercero for praise.

    "Scotty Tercero has really come to the forefront," Martz said. "He has really, really done well in the last few weeks. I hate to admit this: I didn't know he'd play this well. But he did. He played exceptionally well."

    In a crowded wide receiver picture behind starters Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, Martz said Shaun McDonald got his attention.

    "I thought Mac was terrific," Martz said. "In every phase - from a blocker, to a receiver, punt returner, on special teams. He was quite remarkable."

    Defensively, he liked the work of cornerback DeJuan Groce, several linemen, and especially middle linebacker Robert Thomas.

    Martz praised Thomas' "leadership on the field. The calls - just taking charge of the entire defense to begin with before the ball's even snapped. His reads. Everything was impeccable. There wasn't any wasted motion. ... And once the ball's committed, he's there. I mean, he's there in a heartbeat."

    When it came to discussing those who didn't play all that well, Martz declined to provide a critique. Except in the case of rookie cornerback Dwight Anderson, who committed a critical holding penalty on a Bears receiver - a penalty that kept Chicago's only touchdown drive alive.

    "He grabbed his jersey," Martz said. "He definitely grabbed his jersey. You can see him reach his hands to the jersey. ... That's the right call."

    As for Anderson's judgment ...

    "It's third and 27," Martz said. "You just don't do that. I mean, you just don't do that. Those are the kinds of things that when these guys get their opportunity, sometimes they get exposed a little bit."

    That play was a microcosm of the most disappointing aspect of Thursday's outcome for Martz: The game got away when the backups, the bubble players and the fringe guys were on the field.

    "You want them to do well, and when they don't, you get frustrated," Martz said. "I want to see some of these guys step to the forefront and get excited. Like an Arlen Harris did last year, for instance."

    For some of the younger players, Thursday's game may have been their last chance to make an impression on Martz, as he starts slowly honing in on the regular season.

    "This was the biggest opportunity they'll have of all the (preseason) games," Martz said. "Playing time, exposure - the whole thing. From this point on, it will be lessened to a great extent."


    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • ramavenger
    Martz rumors unnerved team
    by ramavenger
    Martz rumors unnerved team
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    12/23/2004

    St. Louis Rams head coach Mike Martz
    (Alan Diaz/AP)


    Story continues below adMike Martz was getting ready to board the team bus Saturday afternoon for the drive to Lambert Airport and the flight to Arizona when he got a call from ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

    "He wanted to know if there was any chance that I wouldn't be here next year," Martz said.

    As in fired or resigned. Martz said no, he didn't plan on resigning and didn't think he was about to be fired.

    "If it were true, then you deal with it, that's fine," Martz said. "But when it's not true, it's just maddening and aggravating."

    Martz said he didn't know until after the Rams' 31-7 loss to Arizona that Mortensen reported Sunday morning that Martz could be in trouble at the end of this season.

    But with the Rams playing a late game against the Cardinals, apparently several players watched or heard about the report on television in their hotel rooms.

    "So the players were very, very concerned and upset when they got on the bus to go to this game," Martz said. "Well, that was a nice, warm, fuzzy way to play a game. I didn't know about it till after the game, because nobody wanted to tell me."

    Martz said that after the game "a couple of the (assistant) coaches had relayed the concern from players. ... It was an emotional thing before the game for some guys. I'm very close to some of these guys.

    "It was very divisive, destructive and did hurt this football team. Not because they love me or anything else like that. It's just disruptive. Guys are always worried about their future. But (assistant) coaches are worried about it, too."

    Just to make sure, Martz said he spoke with team owner Georgia Frontiere and club president John Shaw about his status after the Sunday report.

    "Georgia was very encouraging," Martz said.

    Shaw told the Post-Dispatch on Monday that Martz had the "complete support" of the organization, and that the possibility of firing Martz "totally hasn't entered my mind."

    When Martz addressed the team at a meeting Monday, he told them he was not resigning and was in no danger of being fired.

    On Thursday, Martz said Shaw's words of support helped a great deal.

    "The one thing that's been constant for me in my tenure here, that's never wavered, has been John Shaw," Martz said. "Everything he says is absolutely the way it is. So I feel at peace with all that. He knows we're busting our butts trying to get this thing done. He knows the issues that we have, and what we're dealing with. He understands all those things. And he's trying...
    -12-24-2004, 05:41 AM
  • RamWraith
    Martz puts Rams on notice
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    11/08/2004
    Mike Martz fielded all the questions Monday about what went wrong against New England. And there was a lot of ground to cover, because obviously, a lot went wrong in the Rams' 40- 22 loss to the Patriots.

    But then totally unsolicited, he offered some thoughts about accountability. More specifically, the accountability of Rams players.

    "This is my fifth year here," Martz told reporters, referring to his 4 1/2-season tenure as Rams head coach. "You guys have been with me long enough to know, I've never tried to mislead you. Sugarcoat it. If I've screwed something up, I'll tell you.

    "You try and take a bullet (for a player) whenever you can. But there comes a time when some of these guys have just got to play. Step up and make a play. Players make plays. That's just the way it is.

    "And that's not a cop-out, or brushing it off on these guys. But I'm upset. We've got some guys that we're counting on, that have got to step up. That's the way it is."

    Martz wouldn't name names. But it's clear he has put his team on notice. He is growing increasingly frustrated over execution - or lack thereof - on the playing field. The team continues to make too many mistakes, and too few plays, on game day.

    Martz made many of these points to his players and coaches Monday during a team meeting. Right now, Martz is searching for something to jolt his team out of its current skid - a skid that includes two straight losses, but also recurring problems on special teams, on defense, and in pass-blocking.

    The sense of urgency has never been greater because if the Rams don't display a dramatic reversal of fortunes this Sunday against Seattle, the season could be all but lost.

    The Seahawks are 5-3; the Rams 4-4. If the Rams win, they pull even with Seattle record-wise at 5-4, but actually take the NFC West lead because they hold the tiebreaker edge by virtue of a 2-0 sweep in head-to-head competition.

    But if the Rams lose to Seattle, they're two games back, and face the daunting task of playing four of their next five contests on the road.

    "We just didn't play well (against New England)," Martz said. "That's not a secret. We all saw that. We've played much better in the past and I'm confident that we'll do that again."

    But how? What's the way out?

    "We understand what our problems are, and what we need to address," Martz said. "And there may be some personnel changes."

    But eight games into the season, it's not like Martz and the Rams can reinvent the wheel. The 53-man roster is what it is, and there's not much left on the streets.

    So it looks like Chris Dishman will continue to start at left guard and Grant Williams will continue...
    -11-09-2004, 06:25 AM
  • RamWraith
    Martz, Rams tackle their problems
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, Nov. 10 2004

    If he was Mad Mike on Monday, he became Really Mad Mike on Wednesday.

    The 2004 season has reached the critical-mass stage, and Mike Martz is doing
    everything he can to salvage it. Never mind the standings, the division race,
    or Sunday's NFC West showdown with Seattle. At the moment, Martz just wants the
    Rams to start playing better. A lot better.

    "I think the way we played in the last two games is embarrassing," Martz said
    Wednesday. "Not so much whether you win or lose the game - just the way we
    played the game. Period. We're going to do everything we can to rectify that."

    Including full-contact scrimmage work in practice.

    During the nine-on-seven run period, the first-team offense worked against the
    scout team defense. Then, the first-team defense worked against the scout team
    offense.

    With live tackling in both sessions. Yes, the Rams engaged in some live contact
    in training camp this summer, but those drills were performed almost totally by
    backups. Wednesday's work involved starters - basically everyone but running
    back Marshall Faulk on offense, and safety Aeneas Williams on defense.

    Scrimmaging in the regular season is unheard of in today's NFL. And it was a
    first for the "St. Louis" Rams. Not even in the Dick Vermeil days of three-hour
    practices did the Rams go full-contact.

    Longtime team officials said the Rams hadn't engaged in live practice
    scrimmaging in practice since the 1980s, during John Robinson's tenure as head
    coach.

    So Wednesday's work might fall under the category of desperate measures in
    desperate times. Martz wants the Rams to be more physical, and play a more
    violent brand of football. He wants them to block better. Tackle better.
    Compete better. Live tackling work in practices was a cattle prod to get that
    point across.

    "We've got a core of guys that you can hang your hat on," Martz said. "You can
    get out in the middle of the night, go out and practice them, and you're going
    to get all they've got.

    "What we're trying to do is get the rest of the guys up to that level. We were
    there for a while, and we've fallen off a little bit in a couple of key areas."

    So Wednesday's scrimmaging, coupled with Martz's message to the team Monday
    about accountability, are aimed at an attitude adjustment.

    "This is a game of attitude, pure and simple," Martz said. "It's not about
    ability. Never has been, never will be. Everybody in this league's got ability
    to play. Everybody's talented. Everybody's fast. Everybody's...
    -11-11-2004, 06:46 AM
  • AvengerRam_old
    Martz: "I'm not quitting."
    by AvengerRam_old
    Martz: I'm not quitting


    R.B. FALLSTROM

    Associated Press



    ST. LOUIS - As bleak as the situation looks, there's no giving up for St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz.

    Martz, whose fifth season with the team has been a semi-disaster, on Monday had a strong rebuttal to an ESPN report that he might consider quitting. The Rams were among the preseason Super Bowl favorites after going 12-4 last year but are 6-8 heading into the final two games.

    "I would never resign from this job," Martz said. "I love this job and I would never leave these guys. We've got a real solid crew of young players and it's going to eventually be a terrific team, and I'm not going to ever walk away from something like that."

    Martz has two years left on a contract that pays him $3.5 million annually, and he noted that he's financially secure.

    "I coach because I want to coach, and I love being here," Martz said. "That hasn't changed. We're going to forge on and get this thing back up and running the way it should be.

    "I'm one of those guys where that glass is always half-full and not empty. Sometimes it's hard to look at it like that but no, no, this guy's not going anywhere. No way, Jose."

    Martz is 51-32, counting the playoffs, since leading the Rams to their first Super Bowl championship as Dick Vermeil's offensive coordinator in 1999 and led the Rams to a 14-2 record and his own Super Bowl in 2002. This year has unraveled due to big problems early on with shaky defense and special teams, and lately with what used to be a high-powered offense.

    But this is where he wants to stay. Martz noted that earlier in the season he shot down speculation he'd be interested in the Dolphins vacancy.

    "This is where I want to retire," Martz said. "I have no interest in ever coaching for any other NFL team. We love living here, we love the organization."

    Martz hopes the return of quarterback Marc Bulger after missing two weeks with a bruised right shoulder can reinvigorate an offense that produced one touchdown while he was out. Bulger threw again on Monday with minimal problems.

    "He's ready to go," Martz said. "He's got very little effect on the followthrough, which is really the biggest concern."

    Backup Chris Chandler, 39, has been a major disappointment and might get released. He threw six interceptions last week in a loss at Carolina, then got yanked after going 1-for-6 for 1 yard and producing zero first downs in the first quarter of Sunday's 31-7 loss at Arizona.

    Jamie Martin, signed on Dec. 7 after being out of the NFL for more than a year, is the likely backup this week after playing the last three quarters on Sunday.

    "I believe in him," Martz said. "He's...
    -12-20-2004, 04:48 PM
  • eldfan
    Let's hope Martz proves us wrong with his madness
    by eldfan
    Let's hope Martz proves us wrong with his madness
    By Bryan Burwell
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    09/27/2004

    Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell

    If most of the football world already thought Mike Martz was a maddeningly stubborn football eccentric more than willing to bite off his nose to spite his face, wait until they get a load of him now.

    At his Monday afternoon news conference at Rams Park, the Rams head coach fiercely defended his swashbuckling way of football life as if ... well, as if his life depended on it, which in a way it probably does. He is coaching an obviously flawed football team with a 1-2 record and a defense that is springing more leaks than the Titanic. But as Martz relies on his signature aggressive offensive methods for rescuing this young but very shaky season, he knows he's being confronted with outside resistance.

    He is surrounded by a world full of conventional football thinkers who want to fit this aggressive, damn-the-torpedoes square peg into a very conservative round hole. We want him to play it by the old-school book. If the defense can't stop anyone - and after three weeks of play, there is faint evidence that this bloodied and battered group can - then why not go with a clock-gobbling, smash-mouth style of offense that relies on Marshall Faulk's fleet feet and Steven Jackson's brutish blasts?

    In essence, what we want is for Martz to stay inside the lines, which of course is just about the most repugnant thing you can say to a guy with his aggressive offensive temperament. Why not just ask dogs to start living with cats?

    "Look ... look ... don't ... uhhh," he said, practically spitting out the words like they were a bad piece of meat. "You need to find another coach, then. We're going to play fast and furious, that's what we do. We're going to run it when we ... want to run it, not because somebody (uh, that would be you and me) feels like you have to be balanced."

    He smiled almost defiantly when he said that. And just in case you didn't understand it the first time, Martz put this exclamation point on his soliloquy:

    "That's the way it is. Get used to it. That's the way it is."

    Now here's what I learned from this rather revealing State of the Rams address: Mike Martz doesn't particularly care what the outside world thinks he should do. He has a plan, and he's going to stick with it. It may not be the plan you want, but it's the plan you're going to get. And here's something else gleaned from Martz's feisty words: He will get every opportunity over the next 13 weeks to either sink or swim with his convictions.

    I don't presume to know more about football than Martz. His credentials as an offensive innovator and a football motivator are certified by his impressive NFL head-coaching won-loss record, a trip to the Super Bowl, and...
    -09-28-2004, 06:41 AM
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