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  • Martz Pleased with First, Second Units

    Martz Pleased with First, Second Units
    Saturday, August 14, 2004


    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer


    For more than a half of football Thursday night, St. Louis dominated Chicago. The bad news is the Rams ended up losing a 13-10 decision to the Bears. Fortunately for St. Louis, though, the first half was the portion of the game it was in control.

    The reason that comes as good news is that was the part where both sides played their first and second teams. The starting St. Louis offense moved the ball well behind quarterback Marc Bulger before a Jeff Wilkins’ 33-yard field goal capped its lone drive.

    The beat went on after the top unit left, as Chris Chandler turned in a nearly perfect performance, going 8-of-9 for 108 yards and a touchdown. The St. Louis offense finished the first half with 190 yards of offense and a 10-3 lead.
    Rams coach Mike Martz said he was happy with the top two units. “All in all, I was very pleased, particularly in the first half with both groups,” Martz said.

    St. Louis entered the preseason game with quite a few concerns that needed addressing. The main concern was along the offensive line, where both starting tackles and the center were missing and one of the starting guards played center. The line held up, though, behind the leadership of veteran guard Adam Timmerman, the lone starter on the unit playing his normal position at kickoff.

    Timmerman missed a pair of practices leading up to the game because of shoulder soreness, but Martz identified Timmerman’s leadership as a main reason for the first-half success. “He can play anywhere,” Martz said. “He can play in the street. It doesn’t make any difference. He’s what you’re looking for as a leader, as an example in every form.”

    Martz took the time Sunday to praise another lineman, only this one doesn’t quite have the pedigree and resume of Timmerman. Tackle Scott Tercero, making his first start in the NFL, overcame some nervousness to have a strong showing. If Tercero continues to perform at a high level, some of St. Louis’ major concerns might be eased.

    Martz, who has said in the past that he likes players to step up their play in the preseason and show themselves, said Tercero did just that. “I think that there’s a toughness with Scott that I didn’t realize was there because he’s such a quiet young man,” Martz said. “There’s a resolve… that you don’t know about these guys until you put them in pressure situations like we had him in. He really responded very well.”

    Tercero’s emergence could prove important in the next few months. Offensive tackle Kyle Turley is out at least four weeks with a bulging disc in his back. “The doctors have said four weeks from now they’ll have an idea about how he feels and what direction we’ll go,” Martz said.

    Center Dave Wohlabaugh could miss up to three months with his hip injury. Pro-Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace has yet to report because of stalled contract negotiations. In the meantime, Grant Williams is playing left tackle, Andy King is the left guard and Andy McCollum is handling center duties. Williams has impressed so far in camp, after trimming down in the offseason. King has also been solid and could see extensive time early in the season. If those two continue to play well, McCollum has another good season, Tercero continues to improve and Timmerman anchors the group, the biggest question mark on the team might become an exclamation point. “That’s why those other guys are there,” Martz said. “If you didn’t feel good about those guys, a Scotty Tercero, Grant Williams, they shouldn’t be there. Fortunately both those guys have risen to the occasion.”

    THOMAS MAKES A MOVE: On the other side of the ball, Martz was extremely happy with the performance of middle linebacker Robert Thomas. Thomas had only one tackle, but was everywhere in coverage and showed that he is ready to embrace an expanded leadership role. “I think that the leadership on the field, the calls… everything was impeccable,” Martz said of Thomas. “There wasn’t any wasted motion. I think he was probably the best performance of the entire team.”

    INJURY UPDATE: Martz said tailback Arlen Harris (concussion) and linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa (sprained left ankle) are fine and shouldn’t miss much time, if any.

    BACK TO WORK: The Rams resume practice in Macomb on Sunday afternoon after a pair of days off. Rookies and first-year players returned Friday and veterans were allowed the extra time at home.

    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • RamWraith
    Play of O-line embarrasses Martz
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Monday, Dec. 13 2004

    Although he yielded an early sack to Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers,
    Blaine Saipaia wasn't the problem Sunday. Far from it, according to Rams coach
    Mike Martz.

    "I think Blaine probably played as well, if not the best, of all the offensive
    linemen," Martz said Monday.

    It was a surprising statement considering the Rams have a five-time Pro Bowler
    at left tackle in Orlando Pace, and a two-time Pro Bowler at right guard in
    Adam Timmerman. Not to mention a consistent performer at center in Andy
    McCollum.

    And it also speaks volumes about Martz's dissatisfaction with the play of the
    offensive line in Sunday's 20-7 loss to the Panthers.

    "I would say that we have some very serious problems (on the line)," Martz
    said. "I think (Saipaia) played better than the rest of them. You can draw your
    own conclusions about the rest of it. I don't know what to tell you. I'm
    embarrassed about it to be honest with you."

    Martz expressed general concern about the pass protection for quarterback Chris
    Chandler. But he was particularly upset with some of the run blocking,
    particularly at the end of a sequence in which Arlen Harris carried the ball
    nine consecutive times.

    "The last two runs, we just don't block anybody," Martz said. "The third-down
    run, that thing might go in the end zone if we block who we're supposed to
    block."

    On the play in question, the Rams faced a third and 4 from the Carolina 27
    early in the fourth quarter. Harris gained 2 yards running off left tackle.

    "And on the fourth-down run, we don't block 'out,'" Martz said. "We all block
    'down.' Those are all issues I can't explain to you."

    On fourth and 2, Harris was dropped for a 1-yard loss by Panthers linebacker
    Mark Fields. Carolina took over on its 28 with 13 minutes 28 seconds to play,
    and the Rams never crossed midfield again.

    On the play, the Panthers lined up two defenders on the edge, one of whom was
    Fields. But the Rams blocked down - or towards the inside away from the edge,
    giving Fields a free shot at Harris.

    "Those things should never happen," Martz said. "There's a lot involved in that
    that needs to be straightened out."

    Martz said he and his coaching staff will consider lineup changes on the
    offensive line. But at this point of the season, there aren't many options. The
    Rams have only four reserve offensive linemen on the roster, and two of those
    four are injured.

    Guard Chris Dishman has been sidelined for the...
    -12-14-2004, 03:34 AM
  • RamDez
    Martz reflects: Rams on the bubble may be in trouble
    by RamDez
    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:
    ...
    -08-15-2004, 01:11 AM
  • RamWraith
    Offensive Line Gives Strong Opening Act
    by RamWraith
    Monday, September 13, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    Patchwork. Pieced together. Makeshift. Pick an adjective and the Rams’ offensive line was called it during the preseason. As the injuries mounted, the questions about the unit became as big as the men who played on it.

    With one regular season game down and a win on its record, St. Louis answered many of those questions with a resounding response. The starting group consisted of Orlando Pace (left tackle), Chris Dishman (left guard), Andy McCollum (center), Adam Timmerman (right guard) and Grant Williams (right tackle), playing its first game together.

    Finishing with zero sacks leading to 272 passing yards and a piledriving effort in the trenches that resulted in 176 rushing yards, the offensive line did more than jell, it dominated.

    After struggling with a trio of turnovers in the first quarter, the Rams decided to put it on the line, ramming (no pun intended) the ball down Arizona’s throat, leading the way to a 17-10 win at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday. The win was St. Louis’ first victory in an opener since it beat Philadelphia in 2001.

    Rams’ coach Mike Martz said he was more than pleased with the dominance of his offensive line.

    “I told our staff today that I felt like this is probably the best performance of an offensive line since I’ve been here,” Martz said. “Anytime you rush for those kind of yards and don’t give up any sacks, that’s a pretty exceptional day for any offensive line.”

    On the surface, it seemed like it would be difficult to put the line together in time to have any kind of continuity entering the regular season. Somehow, someway, the Rams made it work.

    The injury bug hit early when right tackle Kyle Turley left camp with back problems. Pace was absent on the other side because of a contract stalemate, leaving the Rams without either of their top-flight tackles. To make matters worse, center Dave Wohlabaugh struggled with a nagging hip injury, forcing left guard Andy McCollum to slide back to his center position.

    The only sure thing was Timmerman, who was forced to play through pain in his shoulder, just so the group could have some kind of consistent presence. Instead of crying over their losses, St. Louis got proactive, seeking help in the form of available free agents and looking within its own roster for possible help.

    Williams, who has been a steady hand in his time with the team, manned Pace’s position admirably, even playing on a badly sprained ankle. Scott Tercero was the utility man of the group, sliding between the two tackle spots and left guard at various times. In his second year, Tercero came of age, providing the Rams with a valuable commodity off the bench.

    Aside from the homegrown talent, St. Louis went shopping and found a high school football coach in Nebraska. Chris...
    -09-13-2004, 03:19 PM
  • RamWraith
    Offensive Line Settles In
    by RamWraith
    Tuesday, August 30, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    After declaring this week’s starting offensive line his starters for the season, barring injury of course, coach Mike Martz was pleased with the way the unit performed in its first appearance together this season.

    The Rams have cycled through a laundry list of combinations along the line that has included everyone from rookies to veterans in new positions to Blaine Saipaia, well, just about everywhere.

    But when St. Louis sent out Orlando Pace (left tackle), Tom Nütten (left guard), Andy McCollum (center), Adam Timmerman (right guard) and Rex Tucker (right tackle) as the starting line, it was the first time this year the group got to play together.

    Of course, this year doesn’t equal forever for a group that has four members that have played and played well together.

    “This is the line that we are going to play the season with and this is the first time together,” Martz said. “That’s why we left them in to get them into playing shape. These guys have been playing together for a lot of years now. This is the first time we have had that group together healthy. I thought they played really well.”

    The numbers bear out Martz’s point. The offense racked up 453 yards, most of which came with the starting unit in there. It wasn’t until late in the third quarter that the starting line went to the bench, but the skill position guys were out a little sooner.

    It didn’t take long for the group to establish dominance in the ground game as Tucker blasted open a seam on the right side for running back Steven Jackson. Jackson scooted 64 yards down the sideline and the 37-13 route was on.

    For Pace, Nütten, McCollum and Timmerman, it seemed like old times again as that group made up four/fifths of the starting line in the 2001 Super Bowl. Even the addition of Tucker doesn’t seem so strange considering how similar he is to brother Ryan Tucker.

    “When you talk to Rex, the similarities are there,” Nütten said. “The way they look, the way they play. The big thing is it doesn’t matter who plays as long as we get the job done.”

    Perhaps no player’s performance against the Lions was more impressive than that of Nütten. His return gives the Rams a solid pass blocker next to Pace and another veteran of which Martz feels comfortable with in the starting lineup.

    “You can’t have guys on your team this many years that play at that level that have been through so many good things and not have some allegiance or get attached to them,” Martz said.

    As long as the group can stay healthy and continue to play at the level it did Monday night, that attachment will be easy.

    FIRST CUTS: The Rams released 13 players Tuesday afternoon in order to meet the league’s criteria of getting to 65 players today.

    Normally,...
    -08-31-2005, 04:22 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, 05:25 AM
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