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  • Turnovers subtract from Ram pluses

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Tuesday, Sep. 14 2004

    In many ways, Sunday's 17-10 season-opening victory over Arizona was a
    microcosm of the best - and worst - of Rams offensive football in recent years.

    On the plus side was the work of the Rams' offensive line, the running game,
    and the overall offensive productivity.

    Rams pass blockers logged the team's first sackless game since Game 5 of 2003,
    a 36-0 Monday night victory over Atlanta - this week's opponent in the Georgia
    Dome.

    In the running game, the team's 176 yards rushing was the most for the Rams
    since November 3, 2002 - a 192-yard rushing output at Arizona.

    The average yards per carry of 5.9 was the highest for the club since the
    regular-season finale of 2001, a 31-13 victory over Atlanta in which the Rams
    averaged 6.6 yards per carry.

    "When you look at the tape, the sustaining of blocks, and the things that they
    were able to do, I was very pleased with (the offensive line)," coach Mike
    Martz said. "I was very pleased at how physical they were."

    The offensive line efforts helped the Rams log 448 yards of total offense, a
    figure topped only once last season, against - do we see a trend here? -
    Atlanta.

    The problem was, all those yards Sunday got the Rams only 17 points and only
    one touchdown. It was the first time since a 13-10 loss to Dallas in 2002 that
    the Rams had scored as little as one touchdown in a home game.

    Three turnovers, plus a one-for-three day in the red zone, kept the Rams from
    routing Arizona.

    "I think it would be more frustrating if we couldn't get outside of our own
    30-yard line or something, and we were just not moving the ball," quarterback
    Marc Bulger said. "Certainly it's a little frustrating, but we knew if we just
    kept going at it, the ball's going down the field, eventually we're going to
    get it in the end zone and score some points."

    Against Arizona, the Rams finished minus 3 in giveaway/takeaways - meaning
    their defense came up with no turnovers to counter those three turnovers by the
    St. Louis offense. Minus 3 is usually a recipe for defeat - teams that are
    minus 3 normally lose about 90 percent of the time in the NFL. (The Rams were
    minus 3 in the 20-17 Super Bowl loss to New England three seasons ago.)

    Fumbles by Steven Jackson and Dane Looker accounted for two of the Rams'
    turnovers. The other came on a Bulger interception. After the game, Martz said
    the INT was simply a bad decision by Bulger. But after reviewing tape, Martz
    noticed that a receiver ran a wrong route.

    "We had a receiver basically turn up instead of turning out on that thing,"
    Martz said. "It brought his defender at the last second, when (Marc) was
    throwing the ball, right into the throwing lane."

    Martz didn't name the receiver, but it was pretty obvious from looking at
    television replays during the game Sunday that it was tight end Brandon
    Manumaleuna.

    The Rams led the NFL in turnovers in 2003 (39), 2002 (34), and 2001 (44), so
    starting a season with three turnovers isn't a good omen.

    As for the team's red-zone struggles against Arizona, Martz said, "I think if
    we hadn't done that, we were in a position to really kind of take charge of
    that game early."

    Martz blamed himself for a third-and-goal call from the Arizona 2 on the
    opening drive of the third quarter. On the play, tight end Cam Cleeland took an
    inside handoff and was dropped for a 2-yard loss.

    "I'd take that third down and 2 - that play back," Martz said. "I felt like
    with the structure of defense that they do in goal line, it would be good.
    Guessed with it a little bit. They came off the edge, and weren't fooled with
    it. And we didn't get the ball in the end zone. So that's a coaching error."

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  • RamWraith
    Bulger's Big Day Lost in the Shuffle
    by RamWraith
    Monday, September 26, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    It isn’t often that a quarterback’s performance will get lost in the shuffle of a football game considering that no player on the field has as much impact on a game as the signal caller. It’s even more rare for the quarterback to be overlooked when he has a really good game or a really bad game.

    But leave it to the quiet, unassuming Marc Bulger to have a tough, excellent performance and have it go pretty much unnoticed. After a tough start that left Bulger with a 20.8 quarterback rating at the end of the first quarter and more bumps and bruises than passing yards after being sacked twice and hit countless other times, Bulger rebounded to have one of his best games as a pro.

    Coach Mike Martz said you can attribute that effort to Bulger’s toughness.

    “Here’s what you have to consider about his performance, how we started, first of all,” Martz said. “He’s getting sacked and drilled back there to begin with. That normally would rattle any quarterback. I don’t care how good you are. Then, all of a sudden, you are behind by 10 points and you can’t get back to put your foot in the ground to throw, or they’re all over you. So, that can be disillusioning to any quarterback, and then to come back and do what he did the way he did it, I thought was outstanding.”

    By the end of the day Bulger had 292 yards on 21-of-28 passing and three touchdowns for a rating of 128.9. It was amazing that Bulger was even able to stand upright by the end of the game, let alone posting those kind of numbers.

    Bulger took so many hits that there were a number of occasions where it appeared he might not get up.

    “I never go there, I don’t think about that,” Martz said.

    But Bulger thinks about it, usually when he is hobbling his way back to the huddle after a particularly vicious hit.

    Take, for example, the obvious forearm to the throat delivered by Titans’ safety Tank Williams that led to a Rams’ timeout. Or the dive at the knees from defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch that resulted in a roughing the passer penalty.

    Those types of hits have become almost routine for Bulger.

    “It seems like Murphy’s Law, get hit in the same spots that you don’t want to get hit in,” Bulger said. “That’s the NFL, everyone feels the same. It feels a lot better when you win.”

    And Bulger was a big reason for that win. When the offensive line settled in during the third quarter, the offense began to click. Bulger rang up a perfect rating of 158.3 in the second half, going 13-of-15 for 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns with no interceptions.

    “I don’t know what to tell you about Marc, he’s just an outstanding competitor,” Martz said.

    REPLAY REVISITED: Judging by Martz’s reaction to the replace challenge of the “lateral,”...
    -09-27-2005, 05:56 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [*****] Martz instrumental in demise of Rams
    by DJRamFan
    Ira Miller
    Wednesday, September 29, 2004



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------




    chart attached


    In the Super Bowl following the 2001 season, the New England Patriots played a nickel defense virtually the entire game, daring St. Louis to run.

    The Rams didn't take the bait. Of course, you might remember, New England, a two-touchdown underdog, won the game -- the second-biggest upset in Super Bowl history.

    St. Louis coach Mike Martz did not get his reputation as an offensive wizard by ordering his quarterbacks to hand off. Three seasons later, Martz has not changed. The Rams still live -- and, frequently these days, die -- by the pass.

    St. Louis, which is averaging fewer running plays than any other team in the NFL, will bring a 1-2 record to San Francisco for a Sunday night game against the *****. The Rams have beaten only winless Arizona -- in a game the Cardinals led after three quarters -- and their roster includes better talent than their won-lost record shows.

    The quarterback, Marc Bulger, leads the NFL in completions and has a completion percentage of 69.3. One receiver, Isaac Bruce, leads the league in receptions and receiving yardage, and the other, Torry Holt, was the league leader in 2003. Left tackle Orlando Pace might be the best in the game. Running back Marshall Faulk has slipped with age, but remains effective. And nine of the 11 starters return on a defense that at least was decent in the recent past.

    So how come the Rams stink?

    Yeah, it's time to take another look at Mad Mike.

    As a head coach, Martz makes an easy target because he is outgoing, outspoken and different. But for all his offensive flair, Martz still doesn't get it. The Rams thought they were starting a dynasty when they won the Super Bowl under Dick Vermeil following the 1999 season, but they haven't come close to fulfilling their promise.

    A month ago, this game looked like a certain loss for San Francisco. Now, despite how wretchedly the ***** played at Seattle, it's up for grabs.

    The Rams have had the same problems for five seasons under Martz. They lack attention to detail, play sloppily, allow their quarterback to take too many hits (which is what happened to Kurt Warner) and use questionable strategy and play-calling that ignore the running game.

    Since Martz became their head coach, the Rams have been more than 37 percent above the league average in losing turnovers and 17 percent above the league average in giving up quarterback sacks. Except for last season, they also have been penalized at a rate well above the league average.

    Yet, rather than change, Martz apparently has become defiant about doing it his way.

    When he was questioned...
    -09-30-2004, 02:24 PM
  • RamWraith
    Martz in good mood at Rams' late stand
    by RamWraith
    Defense credited with helping to even team's record
    BY STEVE KORTE
    News-Democrat

    ST. LOUIS - Being 1-1 isn't so bad when you know, like the St. Louis Rams do, that you easily could be 0-2.

    "It feels good obviously to win a division game on the road," Rams coach Mike Martz said Monday, the day after the team's harrowing 17-12 win over the Arizona Cardinals. "Those things are hard to do, particularly at the beginning of the year. After a disappointing start up in San Francisco, to be 1-1 feels good."

    The Rams are 6 1/2 -point favorites over the Tennessee Titans (1-1) at noon Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.

    The Rams-Cardinals game went down to the wire.

    The Cardinals had first-and-goal at the St. Louis 5 with 27 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

    Rams strong safety Adam Archuleta sacked Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner, and then the Cardinals let the clock run down to seven seconds as they tried to run a play instead of spiking the ball.

    Cardinals left tackle Leonard Davis was called for a false start, resulting in a 10-second runoff on the clock, and the end of the game.

    "Obviously we were trying to take a shot and get it in the end zone on the next play," Warner said. "We changed personnel, and we had to change gears a little bit."

    For the game, the Cardinals had four trips inside the red zone, and came away with three field goals and no touchdowns.

    "That's something our defense can be proud of," Archuleta said. "That's something the defense can hang their hat on, but we have more challenges ahead. We're trying to establish our character and our identity."

    The Rams collected five sacks and limited the Cardinals to 82 rushing yards.

    "I thought we played real good team defense," Martz said. "We competed to the ball, we rallied to it, and we got them out in an awful lot of third-down situations, which was a difficult thing for us in years past. Third-and-long, we weren't very good. (Defensive coordinator) Larry (Marmie) has done a real nice job here putting this defense together and this package. It was a real nice call on that blitz to get a sack to win the game."

    The Rams currently rank fourth in the NFL in rush defense after ranking 29th in rush defense last season. They've allowed an average of 58 rushing yards per game to their first two opponents.

    Martz credited the Rams' linebacking corps, especially middle linebacker Chris Claiborne, for the team's improved run defense.

    "The linebacker play is paramount to everything," Martz said. "Claiborne, anything inside the tackles, he's just going to splatter it. I was watching their reads and their run fits, and they were perfect in this game."

    Martz said...
    -09-21-2005, 05:45 AM
  • RamWraith
    Whiner press blasts Martz
    by RamWraith
    Wednesday, September 29, 2004


    Martz instrumental in demise of Rams


    Ira Miller

    In the Super Bowl following the 2001 season, the New England Patriots played a nickel defense virtually the entire game, daring St. Louis to run.

    The Rams didn't take the bait. Of course, you might remember, New England, a two-touchdown underdog, won the game -- the second-biggest upset in Super Bowl history.

    St. Louis coach Mike Martz did not get his reputation as an offensive wizard by ordering his quarterbacks to hand off. Three seasons later, Martz has not changed. The Rams still live -- and, frequently these days, die -- by the pass.

    St. Louis, which is averaging fewer running plays than any other team in the NFL, will bring a 1-2 record to San Francisco for a Sunday night game against the *****. The Rams have beaten only winless Arizona -- in a game the Cardinals led after three quarters -- and their roster includes better talent than their won-lost record shows.

    The quarterback, Marc Bulger, leads the NFL in completions and has a completion percentage of 69.3. One receiver, Isaac Bruce, leads the league in receptions and receiving yardage, and the other, Torry Holt, was the league leader in 2003. Left tackle Orlando Pace might be the best in the game. Running back Marshall Faulk has slipped with age, but remains effective. And nine of the 11 starters return on a defense that at least was decent in the recent past.

    So how come the Rams stink?

    Yeah, it's time to take another look at Mad Mike.

    As a head coach, Martz makes an easy target because he is outgoing, outspoken and different. But for all his offensive flair, Martz still doesn't get it. The Rams thought they were starting a dynasty when they won the Super Bowl under Dick Vermeil following the 1999 season, but they haven't come close to fulfilling their promise.

    A month ago, this game looked like a certain loss for San Francisco. Now, despite how wretchedly the ***** played at Seattle, it's up for grabs.

    The Rams have had the same problems for five seasons under Martz. They lack attention to detail, play sloppily, allow their quarterback to take too many hits (which is what happened to Kurt Warner) and use questionable strategy and play-calling that ignore the running game.

    Since Martz became their head coach, the Rams have been more than 37 percent above the league average in losing turnovers and 17 percent above the league average in giving up quarterback sacks. Except for last season, they also have been penalized at a rate well above the league average.

    Yet, rather than change, Martz apparently has become defiant about doing it his way.

    When he was questioned in St. Louis this week about the abject lack of balance on offense -- 29 runs, 91 passes called in...
    -09-30-2004, 06:40 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams have enough talent to get more from offense
    by RamWraith
    By Bernie Miklasz
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    09/21/2005

    We're still waiting for the "Greatest Show on Turf" to reappear. We're still waiting for that elusive break-out game. We're waiting for Marc Bulger, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Steven Jackson and Marshall Faulk to give carpal tunnel syndrome to overwhelmed scoreboard operators.

    "I believe it's right around the corner," Bruce said. "We've been moving the ball pretty easy. We've been in the red zone a lot. We just haven't capitalized with touchdowns."

    The Rams malfunctioned in the red zone at San Francisco but still squeezed 25 points out of a lost afternoon. At Arizona, the offense produced two dazzling touchdown drives. But much of the time, the Rams stalled in that 17-12 victory, and that gave the Cardinals an opening to nearly steal the game.

    "Last week, I don't know if it was the heat, but we just didn't seem in sync," Bulger said. "We'll get there."

    The Rams offense is putting up positive numbers. After two games, they rank eighth among 32 teams in yards, and 10th in points. It's just that we know they're capable of supplying more electricity.

    In the last 22 regular-season games, the Rams have topped 30 points only twice. By admittedly unfair comparison, the 1999- 2001 Rams exceeded 30 points a stunning 36 times in 48 regular-season games. But the decline in scoring is obvious; the Rams were only 19th in points last season.

    With so much talent on hand, the formula for a reversal is there. But for the points to flow, coach Mike Martz and the offense must unclog the pipeline.

    Some of the problems include:

    -- Poor field position. Because of a lethargic return game, the offense plays on a long field.

    -- Third-down struggles. The Rams converted at least 42 percent of their third-down plays in five of the past six seasons, which put them in the top 10 in the league rankings. This year, through two games, the conversion rate is 35 percent, which ranks 22nd.

    -- In 2003, Bulger was among the best NFL QBs on third downs, with 13 touchdowns and a rating of 102.6. His performance on third downs has leveled off.

    -- Red zone alert. The Rams rank 22nd in the league in percentage of touchdowns scored while in the red zone. Bulger's QB rating in the red zone slipped from 104.2 in 2002, to 83.6 in 2003, to 76.0 in 2004.

    -- Pass-protection breakdowns are an issue; can this aging line play at the high level needed to set the playmakers free?

    -- Martz is searching for the right play-calling touch. In Jackson, an oversized but quick running back, Martz has an exceptional new piece for his attack and would like to be more ground-oriented. Late in the Arizona game, Martz went conservative, but the Cardinals stuffed the Rams' running game, and the offense...
    -09-22-2005, 04:48 AM
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