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  • Readers tell Martz: Fix it!

    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    09/21/2004
    Guess what? Rams Nation did not take that 34-17 shellacking at Atlanta very well. Some of our readers became agitated with coach Mike Martz, which is hardly a news flash.

    Here is this week's first sampling of the electronic mail received by the staff at "Letters to Gordo:"




    "Here we go again. Am I the only fan with the ringing in my ear of that infamous phrase, 'deja vu all over again'? Didn't Sunday's game look a little familiar? Marc Bulger looked a lot like Kurt Warner did in Game One last year against the Giants. Oh, and wasn't Orlando Pace a holdout last year, too? The 'Pancake' looked more like the 'Waffle,' trying to protect Bulger. With Turley out, the Rams had a replacement lineman trying to protect the quarterback and he was repeatedly burned. Therefore, another familiar sight was Martz not moving his quarterback left or right when things fell apart on the offensive line.

    "The 'genius' looked like your ordinary continuation student, trying to earn his GED. Are all of the Warner bashers of last year now bashing Bulger, or is everyone realizing that it may be the system, not the quarterback? When will Martz realize that it may be better to adjust his protection rather than have five formations take place on one play? When will Martz hire someone to sit up in the booth and warn him not to challenge plays that have no merit to be challenged?"

    -- Scott McGowen, Folsom, Calif.


    GORDO: Bulger was outstanding until that one sequence where he was stripped of the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. He was playing pitch-and-catch all day with Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. But all those penalties, combined with the lack of a running game, combined with the inability to corral Michael Vick, led to defeat.


    * * *

    "How much longer are we to put up with undisciplined sandlot football? When Dick Vermeil left, disciplined football went with him. Every week this team shows up relying on its speed and athleticism to overpower the opponent. Guess what? A lot of other teams caught up to the Rams' speed. What's more, you can sit in your living room and call the plays Martz will call -- he has become that predictable. We should have keep Lovie Smith and sent him to the Bears."

    -- Jim Lindstrom


    GORDO: The sloppy game management seemed to carry over into all phases of the Rams' play Sunday. And sloppy play won't cut it, not against this difficult schedule. There are plenty of elite defenses remaining on the docket. If Mad Mike doesn't regain his tactical magic, it could get ugly.


    * * *

    "Martz has regressed dramatically as a coach and plugged into his good ol' boy network, where loyalty to him is more important than being a good coach. It will doom him to abject failure this year. He has lost touch with who he is and who the fans are. Great example is bringing in an old friend on his way down -- defensive coordinator Larry Marmie, who is from the Deadbirds, who were bad fundamentally on D.

    "Who are the playmakers on D? They just have a bunch of guys running around who aren't big hitters or big play dudes. Robert Thomas is the least effective middle linebacker I have seen play in the NFL, after Jamie Duncan. He does almost nothing out there with no instincts for where the play will be.

    "Worse, the Rams are BORING. Mad Mike's idiotic challenges . . . the rest of the league has one coach who watches replays. He has lost his play-calling touch and can't go for big plays because his weak-armed quarterback is totally inaccurate past mid-range. The Rams are no longer Must See TV. My wife is so happy that she can plan on me working around the house on Sundays! Oh the humanity!"

    -- Keith Walker


    GORDO: You would rather do chores than watch the Rams play on TV? Man, it IS getting tough out there. Folks are ready to put down the chips and pick up a hammer.


    * * *

    "Fullback? Tight end? I'm not sure why we have these positions on this team. The tight ends have no receptions and can't block. The same goes for the fullbacks on this team. Basically Martz is a joke and we play 9 on 11. It's not real tough to draw up a defensive game plan for us. Am I missing something?"

    -- Anthony Markofsky


    GORDO: Not really. Tight end Brandon Manumaleuna's strength is his receiving, not his blocking, so the team needs to use that skill to justify his salary. Fullback Joey Goodspeed had a brutal Sunday on special teams, but he is supposed to be a strong lead blocker. Perhaps the Rams could actually use him in that role.


    * * *

    "Is any info seeping into the brains of the Rams owners? Do they know that Martz and our Rams are quickly becoming the laughingstock of all the morning football shows? Do they know that all the announcers of the Rams games are openly taking shots at Martz? Jimmy Johnson said he 'hates a team that is so arrogant that it does not seem to be concerned by stupid penalties, wasted timeouts, and turnovers.'

    "Howie Long said 'the Rams fans were booing after the Cardinals game because they didn't know the score, and probably thought the Rams had lost.' Troy Aikman took several shots at Martz for disputing obvious calls, and wasting more timeouts. It seemed like it took four officials to explain to Mike that there was no logical point to argue on the end zone take-away play.

    "I love the Rams, but I hate being the brunt of well-deserved jokes. Mike is obviously busy on the sidelines trying to micro-manage the offense (which he is fabulous at), but can't we get a real head coach to actually see what is happening on the field, and be aware of what is going on?

    -- Douglas Ferguson, Chandler, Ariz.


    GORDO: We saw Georgia a few Sundays back at The Ed and she was all smiles. So it's probably going to take more than a 1-1 start to get her to fret over her head coach.

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  • RamWraith
    They come from all over to bury Martz
    by RamWraith
    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:


    * * *

    "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.


    * * *

    " '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.


    * * *

    "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...
    -10-01-2004, 05:27 AM
  • RamWraith
    Letters to Gordo: Rams Nation in revolt
    by RamWraith
    BY JEFF GORDON
    STLtoday.com Sports Columnist
    09/16/2005


    Things were pretty bleak in Rams Nation this week. If the Rams manage to lose at Arizona, I shudder to think of the electronic mail that will roll into this corner of cyberspace.

    Because as you can see, Rams fans are NOT happy:


    * * *

    “Outcoached by a rookie and outplayed by average players . . . The offensive line was exposed (Marc Bulger will be lucky to last three games) and Rex Tucker is in WAY over his head. The defense was decent but Jimmy Kennedy is an overpaid cheerleader. Pass, Pass, Pass. Mike Martz is in midseason form . . . what a joke! Somebody has to reel this jerk in. Needed a field goal to tie, pass to the middle of the field?”

    Bill Watkins


    GORDO: The Tucker issue has been resolved, for now, by his calf injury. With his leg in a boot, Blaine Saipaia takes another crack at the right tackle job, ahead of Matt Willig. No Alex Barron, at least not yet . . .


    * * *

    “The ominous foreshadowing of the misery of the upcoming season took all of one second. With 14:59 to go in the first quarter, of the first game, of the 2005 season, the Rams had already committed a horrendous special teams blunder, and Martz had already burned a timeout on a ridiculous, useless challenge. The special teams mistakes were, as usual, to last throughout the game; however, to change up the pace, Martz replaced his inept decision making on challenges with inept clock management at the end of the game.

    "You just have to love being down by multiple scores late in the fourth quarter and watching run after run get called, with the entire team walking back to the huddle after the play. As usual, there were a few solid individual performances (Bulger, Torry Holt), but with Martz at the helm, this team is destined to go nowhere -- again.”

    Keith Kuhlmann, Ladera Ranch, Calif.


    GORDO: The Rams have gone somewhere under Martz, to multiple postseason berths. And I believe they are capable of repeating that feat again. But, yes, the clock management continues to make one scratch his head.


    * * *

    “I coach pony football and can manage the clock better than him.”

    Steve Chiavetta


    GORDO: Keep that resume updated.


    * * *

    "One would think that with the debacle of special teams play last year, Martz would have learned something and FIXED THE PROBLEM! He, and the general manager also knew they had problems with the offensive line, or lack of, in the offseason. Once again, failure. The five up front now can't pass block, seven sacks, and numerous hurries are proof of that. I read one person's comment that said Steven Jackson looked hesitant. Maybe that's because there weren't ANY HOLES TO RUN THROUGH!...
    -09-17-2005, 05:48 AM
  • RamWraith
    Letters to Gordo: Martz's stock soars with fans
    by RamWraith
    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    01/13/2005

    Online Columnist Jeff Gordon

    The Rams beat the New York Jets in overtime to slip into the playoffs. Then they rallied to beat the Seahawks in Seattle in another thrilling game.

    Suddenly, the stock of head coach Mike Martz is trading higher among readers of STLtoday.com. These electronic missives to the “Letters to Gordo” bin are a sampling of which way the wind is blowing:

    * * *

    “My attitude toward Mike Martz changed completely a few weeks ago. Instead of wanting him to leave, I want him to remain the head coach of the Rams. However, I still hope he has a shake-down meeting during the offseason with John Shaw and all of his non-coaching duties taken away. No one can deny Martz knows football, especially offense. If he is allowed to focus on nothing but coaching the Rams, some of these little in-game problems that seem to crop up repeatedly during the regular season may be eliminated.

    “If Bill Belichick were to express a desire to take over the Rams, then make him head coach and ask Martz to remain as the offensive coordinator. Other than Belichick, the Rams already have the best NFL mind as head coach. One thing's for sure: I certainly wouldn't want to play against his offense, especially in a big game such as we witnessed last Saturday.”

    -- David Cooke, Blytheville, Arkansas


    GORDO: Actually, Martz’s imput into the recent drafts is looking a whole lot better as the young players rally this season. In the last three weeks, a whole lot of draft picks have started looking a whole lot better.

    Some of the mistakes (Eric Crouch!) can’t be undone, but Martz’s across-the-board performance as head coach holds up very well compared to his peers.


    * * *

    “As a Californian and Ram fan since 1972 (as a wee bitty boy) I have to say these are the most exciting years of Ram football I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. I've been a mad Kurt Warner fan but always seen the pure talent of Marc Bulger as well.

    "What I can’t believe is that St. Louis fans can give Martz such a hard time. In 30 years, I've never experienced a five- to six-year span of excitement, pride and success. Martz may be unconventional, unapologetic and (fill in the blank here), but he brings Rams fans an eternal optimism that the team can win on any given Sunday. It's time for Ram fans to shut up and be appreciative! Go Rams, Go Mike!”

    -- Greg Blume, San Luis Obispo, Calif.


    GORDO: By regenerating his offense with Bulger, Kevin Curtis, Steven Jackson and Shaun McDonald, Martz is reviving the “Greatest Show on Turf.” His ability to retool the offense after losing talent to age and free agency has been very impressive.


    * * *

    “Just recovering my...
    -01-13-2005, 02:00 PM
  • RamWraith
    Letters to Gordo: They're mad about Mike
    by RamWraith
    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    09/09/2004

    Online Columnist Jeff Gordon

    It wouldn't be Week 1 of the NFL season if folks weren't already complaining about Rams coach Mike Martz. Of course, we stirred it up by highlighting the fact that Martz admitted losing track of the score in the last minute of that preseason game at Oakland – but we were just doing our job.

    Anyway, here is a sampling of the electronic mail we received long before the Rams played any real games this season:


    * * *

    "Martz is not a good head coach. He is a great coordinator. He has a good football mind, but he lacks the 'it.' His teams lack an identity. He is terrible at game management. Even in their last Super Bowl year, they used timeouts wastefully. Martz will be let go after this year.

    -- Kurt Asmussen


    GORDO: I believe this season will define Martz as a head coach. If he succeeds against THIS schedule with all the talent gaps on his roster, then he will command the respect of his peers and (we hope) all the citizens of Rams Nation. We'll know much more about him by Christmas.


    * * *

    "I love the guy. Can you remember when we didn't have Mike and the dumb, unimaginative play calling we used to have both in Anaheim and when they first moved to St. Louis? Go Mike, you're the best."

    -- Roger Nustad


    GORDO: Hey, Rich Brooks did try some stunts during his ill-fated regime. Alas, Chris Miller got hurt and the long, terrible tailspin began. But yes, life was bleak before Martz organized The Greatest Show on Turf."


    * * *

    "Did I misread your column? I thought it said you think Mike Martz is good. What is he good at? Messing up? I have been a St. Louis fan my entire life, which even goes back to the football Cardinals in St. Louis. I became a Rams fan when they came in. I have always said I would remain a Rams fan as long as they stayed in St. Louis. Well, it is getting harder every day when Mike Martz and his usual mess-ups are leading the way. Most people have known for a long time Martz didn't know the score -- so him admitting it after the Raider loss was just maybe what the ownership needed to FINALLY wake up, smell the coffee, and dump him.

    "He has shown his lack of football intelligence ever since he became the head coach of the Rams. Maybe I can root for Kurt and the New York Giants. He never gave Warner the time to prove he was ready for action and always defends Marc Bulger when he throws an interception or just misses the open man, etc. Maybe he can find a good place to go and take Bulger with him. Neither have impressed me. Sorry Gordo, but Martz needs to go back to offensive coordinator and we need to find someone who at least knows the score when they are the head coach...
    -09-10-2004, 08:17 AM
  • RamWraith
    Letters to Gordo: Fans call for Martz's head
    by RamWraith
    BY JEFF GORDON
    STLtoday.com Sports Columnist
    10/04/2005


    Here is a shocker: Rams Nation did NOT take Sunday’s 44-24 loss very well. In fact, they have resumed their call for Mike Martz’s head. It may or may not comfort them to know that Martz was just as upset about the game as they were.

    Anywhere, here is another sampling of public opinion:


    * * *

    “You have got to be kidding me! How often do you ever see a double reverse work successfully inside the 10-yard line? Down near the goal line, this play is designed for a significant loss in yardage. Bad play call. I can't wait to hear Martz say, ‘That one is on me. I shouldn't have made that call.’

    "The Rams defense is atrocious. Larry Marmie needs to go back to college. When you hire a coach from a bad team and a bad program (the Cardinals), it should tell you something -- you get bad results. Marmie received congrats for the all-out blitz call that sacked Kurt Warner and saved the Cardinals game. What about the passive defensive calls prior to that play that put the Rams in that position? Bring back Lovie. He's got to be tired of the Bears by now.”

    Frank Ober, Lynchburg, Va.


    GORDO: Yeah, I’d like to see Marmie mix it up a little more to take some pressure off the cornerbacks. But apparently safeties Michael Hawthorne and Jerome Carter either got lost or decided to free-lance way too much in that game. Cover-2 is supposed to mean Cover-2, not run up and try to hit the guy that isn’t getting the ball.


    * * *

    “I am a longtime Rams fan from L.A. About a year ago I e-mailed and stated that coach Martz was a good offensive coordinator but a bad head coach. He proved it in the Super Bowl and has continued his poor leadership up to now. He has wasted two good years of talented players. Marshall Faulk is getting older and so is Isaac Bruce. Some people weren’t made to be head coaches and he proves it every week. I still say he will never beat the top coaches even if he has the better talent. . . . Maybe we just don’t have the patience you have in St. Louis, but you’re wasting some good talent out there. Time to make a change.”

    Jim Vazquez


    GORDO: The overall game management Sunday was suspect –- and that really eats you up on the road. We’ll find out, quickly, if the guys want to play for him. He turned up the heat on the players. Let’s see how they respond in Game 5. This could be the swing game for their season.


    * * *

    “How many times is Martz going to shrug off his stupidity and say, ‘that was a coaching mistake, we'll fix that’, or we know what went wrong, ‘we'll fix it . . . ’ FIX IT ALREADY MARTZ! I'm tired of hearing the excuses! With all the talent the Rams have had on this team since 1999, they should have at least three Super Bowl rings. I think...
    -10-05-2005, 04:52 AM
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