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  • They come from all over to bury Martz

    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 bad coaching decisions every week.

    "It is pathetic to watch Martz excel as an assistant, but come up so glaringly short as a head coach. If this keeps up, I am afraid the team will quit on him. It must be demoralizing for a player who has devoted his whole life (possibly sacrificing long-term physical health in the process) to football, only to watch his efforts derailed weekly by abysmal coaching. Parenthetically, why is the St. Louis media so soft on Martz? Is there some sort of 'Blue Wall of Silence' surrounding the criticism of home team coaches, or an 11th Commandment 'Thou shall not be too critical of the home team coach?'

    "Martz's colossal incompetence has already been exposed on the world stage two years ago in New Orleans; why doesn't the Rams' brass at minimum, pull him into an office, and give him a good dressing down? Again, I emphasize, I am not your usual shrill, fickle fan. The Rams may only have the talent to win seven games this year. If that is the case, I would rather cheer for a 7-9 quality team with a coherent, weekly game plan (i.e. Skins/Lions) than a 7-9 team that continuously is shackled by inept coaching. This guy makes Jerry Glanville look like George Halas."

    -- Marc Curry


    GORDO: Ouch! That Glanville/Halas shot is one of the best blows ever landed by a "Letters to Gordo" participant. The media has certainly questioned Martz over and over again this week, so we're not THAT soft.

    The media hasn't written off Mad Mike entirely because he still has the opportunity to pull off a great coaching accomplishment this season. But it the Rams do go 7-9, then, yes, it could get a little ugly in this corner of cyberspace and everywhere else.


    (Editor's Note: Curry's letter proves a fundamental truth about those who write "Letters to Gordo" or letters to the editor. The ones who characterize themselves as "not your usual shrill, fickle fan" usually are either the most shrill, the most fickle, or both. "Blue Wall of Silence"? "11th Commandment"? Come on.)


    * * *

    "Without a single doubt THE worst coach in the NFL."

    -- John Isselhardt


    GORDO: His won-loss record says otherwise. Yes, the Rams have talent. But the Rams have also turned over that roster a couple of times and are using their share of kids, wounded warriors and guys pulled off the street. It's tough to win in the NFL – which is why so many big-name coaches have losing records this season.


    * * *

    "This team is not good. They make too many mental mistakes and the defense is horrible. As soon as Bulger scored with 28 seconds left, I looked at my wife and said that is too much time and the Saints kicker is dead-on. This team would be smart to lose at least 10 and look forward to the draft. Needs: Defensive back, defensive back, defensive back -- I would spend my first three rounds on defensive backs. I would trade down for multiple picks."

    -- Terry Hovis, Jacksonville, Fla.


    GORDO: It's a little early to start looking forward to the next NFL Draft. Give it a few more weeks.


    * * *

    "Do I have an opinion about this pinhead? YEAH !! Have someone else call the plays, he stinks and always has. He loses his cool when things go wrong, and worst of all, he loves the DEEP PASS. I was under the impression that you need 10 yards to get a first down, or have the rules changed. Mad Dog will pass deep time and time again, when it's third and two, or third and three, when the odds for getting that first down are much, much better with a short pass or run. Stupid is what stupid does."

    -- Loren Ellis


    GORDO: Martz has mostly worked the short to intermediate routes this year, which explains the high completion percentage. You have to take shots downfield from time to time to stretch the defense and create seams and holes to throw into. He hasn't been bomb-happy at all.


    * * *

    "It is unbelievable to me how arrogant Mike Martz is. He says if we want a running attack, get another coach. I agree. Get another coach.

    "He runs a one-dimensional offense in a league where a running attack is critical to making the passing attack work. A running attack is vital to winning. Why else did he draft a running back No. 1, a running back who led the NFL in rushing in the preseason, a running back who has averaged over five yards a carry. A running attack uses up the clock. It keeps the other team's offense off the field. It gives your team's defense rest, and the Rams defense certainly could stand more rest and less playing time. It takes the pressure off the passer.

    "His philosophy nearly ruined Kurt Warner and it will also put Marc Bulger in the quarterback graveyard. Martz and his arrogance have got to go. It has cost the Rams a Super Bowl victory. It cost the Rams a victory over Carolina last year and has already cost the Rams two victories this year. Steve Jackson should be starting and Marshall Faulk should be his relief and Martz should be looking for another job."

    -- David Carpenter, Stockton, Calif.


    GORDO: Let's not bury Faulk just yet. He looked like his old self in Week 1. Even last week, he made some tough runs in vital short yardage and red zone situations. Give him enough touches and some run blocking and he will still move the sticks

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  • 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
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    12/01/2004
    The mood in Rams Nation continues to worsen as the season progresses -– or, in the case of the Rams, regresses.

    Naturally, fans want to fire coach Mike Martz, defensive coordinator Larry Marmie and about half the team. Here is a sampler of what folks have been writing to the “Letters to Gordo” bureau:


    * * *

    “I have another take on this disaster. Cutting Sean Landeta was political and had the reverse effect. The Rams quit, plain and simple! The Martz Era is over. We lost to Miami, Dave Wannstedt is gone. We lost to New Orleans, Jim Haslett is going. Need I say more?

    -- Ed Chandler, Las Vegas


    GORDO: No, those were horrible losses. There is no shame in losing at Green Bay, but there IS shame in packing it in -– which Martz admits the defense did as that game deteriorated. There is still time to salvage the season, but how do you spark players once they are in this frame of mind?


    * * *

    “It does not get much worse than this as a Rams fan. One can say whatever one wants about what things were like before 1999, but after seeing what Mike Martz has done to what could have been a wonderful dynasty is dreadful! The Packers game Monday night was the worst display of heartless football I have ever witnessed. Martz, he looked so clueless and showed no fire and the team followed suit.

    "As much as I hate to say this, I firmly believe that the Cardinals with Dennis Green have a much brighter future at this point than the Rams do. I am not sure what can be done to fix this mess! It is a very sad time but at least we can remember the happy times of 1999 and 2001 . . . until the Super Bowl, when Martz's destruction of this franchise began.”

    -- Craig Girch, Terryville, Conn.


    GORDO: Let’s not get too eager to jump on that Dennis Green bandwagon. What he has done with his quarterbacks is truly bizarre. The Gridbirds could have jumped into the playoff race had Green not made the peculiar decision to try Shaun King.


    * * *

    “Once again, we hear Martz say ‘We know what the issues are.’ He's been saying that all year but he can't fix it. I don't blame the players -- I blame Martz simply because it has been the same issues no matter who is out there. So unless the Rams stage a miracle finish and go 4-1 down the stretch, I would hope we've seen the last of Mike Martz as head coach. I think the team takes its cue from its head coach. Martz has a one-track mind: pass on nearly every down and the heck with establishing the run, defense, fundamentals like blocking and tackling and special teams. As a result, the Rams are a one-dimensional team with a great passing attack and little else.

    “I am not surprised that over the years the Rams play on the field has gradually...
    -12-02-2004, 05:25 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
    Readers tell Martz: Fix it!
    by RamWraith
    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...
    -09-22-2004, 05:07 AM
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