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  • Chris Mortensen gets it....from ESPN.com

    Tuesday, October 12, 2004
    Criticizing is easy; winning isn't

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    By Chris Mortensen
    ESPN Insider

    Before I wax a lot about Mike Martz and a little about Marty Schottenheimer, let me concede something.

    One of the flaws in my game, so to speak, is that I give head coaches a lot of rope in analyzing their performance on the sidelines. There are reasons for that. My career goal was to be a coach my high school coaches were great influences on me. I ended up in journalism, and at one stretch I spent 10 years covering major league baseball only to switch to the NFL on a full-time basis 20 years ago. I immersed myself in the offices and film rooms of coaches who were willing to re-teach me the game of football. Even then, the constant evolution of the sport leaves me as a remedial observer.

    I have a great appreciation and respect for the amount of time coaches pour into their jobs. I understood perfectly what former Saints coach Jim Mora meant when he told the New Orleans media, "You think you know, but you don't know." It was blunt but true. The game is never as simple as we think. The quarterback isn't at fault for half his interceptions. The offensive line isn't guilty of about half the sacks you see. That cornerback you think blew coverage may have been doing exactly what he had been taught.

    So only reluctantly will you see me criticize coaches, and seldom will you see me attack a coach, although as Giants owner Wellington Mara reminds me, "The great thing about our profession is that every (coach) ultimately grades his own performance by his record." Yes, the bottom line is winning.

    That brings me to Martz and Schottenheimer, two coaches who have been slapped around in recent years. If I I trusted everything I heard on TV, heard on the radio and read in print, you would think Martz and Schottenheimer are two of the biggest buffoons in the history of football. This follows the same line more than a month ago when our media world was demonizing Giants coach Tom Coughlin.

    Martz and Schottenheimer are different in many respects. Schottenheimer is a great fundamentalist coach, and Martz is, well, he's just out there, on the edge so much so that former ***** coach Bill Walsh has said, "You can't emulate what Martz does."

    I know they should never be characterized as buffoons. These guys have won a lot of football games.


    * * *

    Has anyone noticed what Martz has done for the St. Louis Rams? True, his team is only 3-2, which makes him 46-22 during the regular season since he became the Rams' head coach in 2000. And, I'm sorry, but I have a difficult time not crediting him with 13 more wins and a Super Bowl championship in 1999, when the Rams won it all with Kurt Warner.


    The previous two seasons, Dick Vermeil's Rams went 5-11 and 4-12, and Vermeil nearly was run out of town. Vermeil was pressured, to put it mildly, to hire Martz as offensive coordinator. The result, as we know, was a 13-3 season, the Super Bowl, and an offense that almost doubled its point total (285 to 526) in a single season with Mad Mike calling the plays for "the Greatest Show on Turf."

    Yes, Mad Mike is a little unconventional. He throws it when we think he should run it. He asks for instant replays when the world can see the officials got it right. He uses timeouts like they were loose change. Interceptions? Don't worry about it. His postgame and Monday press conferences to explain all of it? Sometimes bizarre.

    Now, again, some of that is reality and some of that is perception. The point is, as if we can't make it enough, is that Martz is a little different than the rest.

    "Mike is different, but in this league, it isn't about the art of coaching, it's the art of winning," said Jay Zygmunt, the Rams' president of football operations. "Just like Coughlin is Coughlin, Mike is Mike. They win, and let me tell you, there are no easy games in this league."

    Even Martz told me Monday, "Everybody has a preconceived idea of how things should be done, and I guess I don't fit the mold. But I can't change. I'm not going to change."

    For Martz, there is more method to his madness than most of us are willing to acknowledge. Let's tie some recent events together to make the case.

    Sunday in Seattle, the Rams made a noble, furious comeback from a 27-10 deficit in a key NFC West game. The Seahawks' defense was backpedaling in the final minute as the Rams marched, trailing 27-24. Marc Bulger's 16-yard pass to Dane Looker put the Rams on the Seattle 18 with 18 seconds left. First down. The TV analysts reasonably wondered why Martz wasn't taking at least one more shot into the end zone as he sent kicker Jeff Wilkins out to tie the game with a field goal, forcing overtime.

    Sound familiar?

    Last January, in a second-round playoff game, Martz was crucified for a similar strategy, when he played for a tie against the Carolina Panthers, who went on to win an overtime game and subsequently advanced to the Super Bowl as the NFC champion.

    Yet there was a foundation for what Martz had done in both instances. Two years earlier, in 2002, the Rams trailed by three when they staged a last-minute drive against the Redskins that took them to the Washington 5 with 11 seconds left. Martz went for the gusto instead of kicking a game-tying field goal. Kurt Warner got sacked, lost a fumble and the Rams lost in Martz's only losing season (7-9).

    "Our guys had fought their asses off to get back into the game, and I blew it," said Martz. "I lost that team when I did that. I promised myself that if I ever had another team that had the heart to come from behind in the last seconds that I would play for a tie and give them an opportunity to win the game in overtime."

    Agree or disagree, there is enough logic in his new philosophy. Sunday, he played for the tie, and the Rams stunned the Seahawks in overtime 33-27 to suddenly get our attention again.

    As for our preconceived image that Mad Mike's only goal in life is to erase the record books by throwing it every down, take another look at what he did Sunday.

    The Seahawks' offense had overwhelmed the Rams' defense, registering nine first downs in the first quarter alone. By halftime, the Seahawks led 24-7 with 17 first downs and 306 yards total offense. It was one-sided. What did Martz do? He settled the game down and played ball-control in the third quarter, keeping the football for 11:44 of the 15 minutes. And while the Rams managed just a field goal in the third quarter, Martz managed to change the flow of the game and throw the Seahawks' offense out of rhythm.

    The Rams went from jabbing their way back into the fight to delivering some haymakers for a late knockout. Sound unconventional to you? Now the Rams seemingly have our attention again, which they should, because as they rebuild their offensive line and try to get healthy on defense, they are proving capable of defending their division crown, which seemingly already had been handled to the Seahawks.

    In an ode to the late Rodney Dangerfield, talk about no respect? That's Martz.

    Even last year's 12-4 season went unappreciated, I thought. Martz accomplished that with Marc Bulger Marc Bulger! playing quarterback for 15 games in which Marshall Faulk either was not available or not 100 percent physically throughout most of the season. Now, I'm certainly not ready to induct Bulger into the Hall of Fame, or Martz for that matter. But do you realize that Bulger is 22-6 as a starter under Martz?


    * * *

    Like the Rams, the San Diego Chargers are 3-2, and if we can call Martz "Mad Mike," then can I label Schottenheimer as "Mad Marty"? After all, the Chargers have scored 140 points in five games only the Colts (159) have score more.

    In fact, Schottenheimer stunned Chargers' fans Sunday against a physical Jacksonville defense by allowing Drew Brees to open the game with six straight passes and go to the air on nine of the first 11 plays.

    Think about this: When the Chargers wrapped up Sunday with 34-21 win over the Jaguars, it was 10 more points than Peyton Manning could score and 20 more points than Steve McNair managed against the same Jacksonville defense.

    Schottenheimer, whose style of play has been described as "boring," had some fun with the media after Sunday's win on a day when he even lined up Pro Bowl running back Ladainian Tomlinson at quarterback for two plays.

    "We are in the entertainment business," he said. "Was that entertaining?"

    Monday, as Schottenheimer reminded me, "Winning is entertainment."

    Really, the Chargers' 3-2 record is one of the season's most intriguing stories for a franchise that has been ridiculed by many, including yours truly.

    The Chargers' starting lineup is the second youngest in football and, other than Tomlinson, is dotted with a lot of so-called "no names."

    Even Brees is playing like, well, Dan Fouts. OK, that's a stretch. But since top draft pick Phillip Rivers was promoted to No. 2 on the quarterback depth chart, Brees has completed 72 percent of his passes for five TDs with no interceptions and only one sack for a passer rating of 135.9 against the Tennessee Titans and Jaguars.

    Schottenheimer has assembled a heck of a staff. Can't name them all, but it's funny that his offensive coordinator is Cam Cameron, whom Martz once succeeded on Norv Turner's staff with the Redskins. The line coach, Hudson Houck, is long acknowledged as one of the best in league history. Wade Phillips has solidified the defense. Steve Crosby has revved up the special teams.

    And just a reminder: Marty Schottenheimer has won 168 games in 17 season as a head coach in the NFL.

    You don't do that by being a buffoon

  • #2
    Re: Chris Mortensen gets it....from ESPN.com

    Nice job by Mort. And he's right. We fans can be tough on Martz, and the media is even worse, but in the end, he is the guy I want coaching this team right now.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Chris Mortensen gets it....from ESPN.com

      I agree that we should keep Martz but I don't agree that he shouldn't be criticized just because he has a good record. I don't agree with booing him at the stadium or running him out of town.

      However, his coaching has cost the Rams some wins, too. He isn't perfect and no one can be expected to be but there are some issues that, if "fixed" would make the Rams a very dominant team in my opinion. I don't think Martz would argue that although his "style" is successful, there isn't room for improvement.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Chris Mortensen gets it....from ESPN.com

        and you know what mokler, he always says there is room for improvement. Every press conference those words come out.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Chris Mortensen gets it....from ESPN.com

          I think it depends on the manner in which the criticism is made.


          For example, if Steven Spielberg makes a bad movie, I will criticize it. But I don't suggest that I could make a better one.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Chris Mortensen gets it....from ESPN.com

            Well, one thing I don't believe in any more are the words that Martz says in a press conference. He's as bad or worse than Shanahan at using the media for his own end. Which is fine and it took me a while to figure that out about Martz.

            And, as much as I'll never forgive Martz for ONE particular thing(a certain qb not retiring as a Ram), I really do like him as the coach of the Rams. I love his aggresiveness, innovativeness and loyalty to the players among other things, but I don't feel that motivation, discipline and playcalling have changed much, if at all, since he took over in 2000.

            We'll see if the devil may care attitude toward certain aspects of the game will work on a championship level at some point, I just think with a little nudge here or there, life would be so much easier for Martz as the head coach.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Chris Mortensen gets it....from ESPN.com

              Point me in the direction of a perfect coach or the perfect person. Why must everyone be criticized for their mistakes daily? Martz has done wonders for this team and continues to. He never gives less than 110% and expects the same from his players.

              It's too bad us fans and the media can't spend a little more time patting people on the back for the thankless jobs they do. Martz has kept at us a competitive level his entire tenure he has been in St. Louis and I expect that same from him each year. And here lies the problem. We fans have come to expect perfection. Martz preaches it, we believe it, and we expect it. Anything less than perfection tears us apart, thus leaving us to tear apart a coach.

              As much as I get frustrated with the guy, I must say he has been the best thing for the Rams since the days of Robinson. There is not this 3 year rebuilding window with Martz. Its put up, or get out. I like that.

              I am proud he is our coach! If he left today he could write his head coaching job to whatever town he wanted...and you can put that in your pipe and smoke it.


              Originally posted by moklerman
              I agree that we should keep Martz but I don't agree that he shouldn't be criticized just because he has a good record. I don't agree with booing him at the stadium or running him out of town.

              However, his coaching has cost the Rams some wins, too. He isn't perfect and no one can be expected to be but there are some issues that, if "fixed" would make the Rams a very dominant team in my opinion. I don't think Martz would argue that although his "style" is successful, there isn't room for improvement.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Chris Mortensen gets it....from ESPN.com

                Great article from the only person worth a damn on ESPN. It certainly makes me rethink some of my criticism of Martz.
                Clannie Nominee for ClanRam's Thickest Poster

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Chris Mortensen gets it....from ESPN.com

                  I have no problem with criticism as long as it is done with respect towards the person you are giving it to. I will keep criticizing Martz because as fans that is what we do. I just hope I have the class to do it in a respectful manner.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Chris Mortensen gets it....from ESPN.com

                    Good point SM and I agree. Good constructive criticism is heathly for everybody, whether perfect or not ;-)



                    Originally posted by sprtsmac
                    I have no problem with criticism as long as it is done with respect towards the person you are giving it to. I will keep criticizing Martz because as fans that is what we do. I just hope I have the class to do it in a respectful manner.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Chris Mortensen gets it....from ESPN.com

                      I was going to add to this argument but you know what. Everyone has said what needs to be said

                      Good article and some good responces.

                      Long live Mad Mike

                      __________________________________________________________
                      Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Chris Mortensen gets it....from ESPN.com

                        Mort talks a lot of sense

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Chris Mortensen gets it....from ESPN.com

                          Sound familiar?

                          Last January, in a second-round playoff game, Martz was crucified for a similar strategy, when he played for a tie against the Carolina Panthers, who went on to win an overtime game and subsequently advanced to the Super Bowl as the NFC champion.

                          Yet there was a foundation for what Martz had done in both instances. Two years earlier, in 2002, the Rams trailed by three when they staged a last-minute drive against the Redskins that took them to the Washington 5 with 11 seconds left. Martz went for the gusto instead of kicking a game-tying field goal. Kurt Warner got sacked, lost a fumble and the Rams lost in Martz's only losing season
                          pardon my ignorance here but what in the hell does one game have to do with the other? the game against the skins Martz made the correct decision. This is a ridiculous comparison due to the fact that had Warner not fumbled the rams still could have kicked a FG. He makes it sound like it was all or nothing on that play. enter the playoff game vs carolina and there was time to win the damned game. I agree that Martz has done some fabulous things for this team however good deeds don't replace logic. trying to sweep away the carolina game because of his regular season record is crazy. I don't know about anyone else but i am frightened about any close games we may have in the playoffs.like most, I am happy to have Martz as our coach however; i worry about him out there all alone during the post season.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Chris Mortensen gets it....from ESPN.com

                            Hey RamTime, you live by the sword and you die by the sword an often used expression but in this case, very well placed LOL.

                            __________________________________________________________
                            Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Chris Mortensen gets it....from ESPN.com

                              I agreed with the kick against the Hawks, even told a buddy that when the game was on. But the situation in playoff game last year was completely different. Too much time was still available.

                              Martz is a great OC. He is a successful HC. But he reminds me of that eccentric millionaire. Obviously smart enough to do his job, but just does some quirky things that make you say "Huh???"
                              This space for rent...

                              Comment

                              Related Topics

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                              • RamWraith
                                Martz does things his own way--ESPN Insider
                                by RamWraith
                                By Jeff Reynolds
                                Pro Football Weekly

                                ST. LOUIS It's June 1, and the temperature, climbing above 85 degrees on a cloudless day at a tucked-away corporate park west of St. Louis, creates the slightest haze outside the oversized windows at Rams Park.

                                The blinds, tilted upward in his second-floor corner office, rob Rams head coach Mike Martz of a view of an empty practice field and a justifiably quiet blacktop parking lot.

                                Even in a navy and gray floral printed polo shirt embroidered with the logo of a past golf tournament, Martz portrays perfectly the image of a studious football coach. Angling toward the front edge of his mahogany U-shaped desk, Martz shifts an iced Diet Pepsi to the right to uncover a bound, double-sided printout. The standard white, 8-by-11-inch paper stands about two inches thick, lying flat in Martz's outstretched hand.

                                "Third-down plays we had ready and never called," Martz says, a sense of dissatisfaction in his voice. "We don't have a playbook. We have a book with the system in it as described with some of the base offense. If you put everything together on that top rack , that is about half of what we do. It's never-ending."



                                Mike Martz has a 51-29 regular-season record as the Rams head coach.This is Mike Martz, the subject of justifiably passionate debate among football fans who can't agree whether he's brilliant, smarmy, stubborn, ignorant or some combination of those traits. The man often portrayed as a prima-donna dictator displays only pictures of his dogs, Rocky and Buddy, and his family. There is no Super Bowl ring, no glamorous display of career achievements. Nothing that says Martz is the extroverted narcissist many assume him to be.

                                He is asked about defensive coordinator Larry Marmie, who has been ridiculed frequently since replacing Lovie Smith, who went on to become the head coach of the Bears.

                                "Criticism, most often, is without understanding," Martz says in a persuasive tone, sounding like an attorney during closing arguments.

                                He's not back on his heels, but there is evidence in his irritatingly relaxed posture that Martz has been here before.

                                Many things make Martz an easy target. For one, his offense sits with some traditionalists the 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust generation as well as poetry does with a butcher. He also refuses to bother with self-defense, leading second-guessers to keep guessing. Take Super Bowl XXXVI for example, a loss that one confidant says still "haunts him" as has been widely speculated.

                                Smith, who worked with Martz at Arizona State, was on the St. Louis coaching staff from 2001-03 and called that game "the toughest loss I've ever been a part of."

                                The Rams lost to the Patriots 20-17 on a last-second field goal, and following the game, the Rams'...
                                -06-30-2005, 01:01 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, 05:41 AM
                              • ramsbruce
                                Mike Martz' fall from grace
                                by ramsbruce
                                Mike Martz' fall from grace
                                By Jim Thomas
                                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                                01/01/2006


                                He steered the Rams to the Super Bowl. But politics and personality conflicts obscured his genius, and now head coach Mike Martz appears on the way out.

                                With his silver hair, glasses and polite manners, the Rams' new offensive coordinator looked almost bookish - more scholar than football coach. When he accepted the job after two years as an assistant coach in Washington, Mike Martz didn't look or act much different than he did in 1995 and 1996, when he was a Rams assistant under Rich Brooks: quiet, low-key and unassuming.

                                Back then, he was in charge of wide receivers. But in January 1999, Martz was put in charge of the entire Rams offense under head coach Dick Vermeil. By the time training camp started that summer, the offense looked a lot different than it did when Martz accepted the job.

                                "It's like winning the lotto," Martz said at the time. "I came to the Rams, and we signed Trent Green, and we have a healthy Isaac Bruce, and then we draft Torry Holt. All of that, and then it's, 'Oh yeah, here's Marshall Faulk at running back.'

                                "Dick has made a lot of outstanding personnel decisions, and he should get the credit for that. At this point, my job is, 'Don't screw them up.' "

                                He didn't, of course. Even back in July 1999, Martz gave a hint of what would come.

                                "We're going to be aggressive," Martz said. "You have to let these guys play and not be afraid to take chances. You can't go out there and be afraid to lose. You have to play to win. And our talent level on offense is good enough to win with."

                                Those seemed like bold words at the time. The Rams, after all, were 22-42 during their first four seasons in St. Louis. Dating back to their days in Southern California, they had endured nine consecutive losing seasons.

                                For all his talents, Faulk was part of an Indianapolis team that went 3-13 in 1998. Bruce had not won more than seven games in any season as a Ram. Holt was a rookie. Green had only 14 starts on his NFL resume.

                                And when Green went down with a season-ending knee injury in late August, it looked hopeless. The obscure Kurt Warner took over at quarterback, and the early results were encouraging.

                                After the Rams scored 35 points and gained 442 yards to defeat reigning NFC champion Atlanta, Martz was awarded a game ball.

                                "I've never had as much fun in my whole life," Martz said afterward. "I probably will never have a group like this again. I'm under a star right now. ... Who knows how long this will go?"

                                On one level, those were bold words, considering the Rams were a mere 2-0 at the time. But they proved to be prophetic. By the end of the 1999 regular season, the Rams were playoff-bound,...
                                -12-31-2005, 07:32 PM
                              • RamDez
                                Martz passes on critics
                                by RamDez
                                Martz passes on critics

                                By MIKE SANDO
                                October 9, 2004



                                All Mike Martz has done is win 66 percent of his games, the same amount as the only current NFL coach whose bust resides in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

                                Unlike Joe Gibbs, a three-time Super Bowl winner, Martz has yet to win the big game since becoming the St. Louis Rams' coach in 2000.

                                But that's not why Martz attracts more criticism than any consistently successful coach in memory.

                                The problem, as critics see it, involves Martz's penchant for passing more than any team in the league.

                                Just think how many Super Bowls the Rams might have won had Martz fed the ball to his running backs a little more, critics say.

                                "I don't know why it's such an issue," Martz said this week as the Rams prepared to visit the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. "It's not going to change now."

                                That kind of unrepentant attitude, paired with a 2-2 record this season, has only invited more griping.

                                The Rams actually attempted 11 more runs than passes during their 24-14 victory over San Francisco on Sunday. It was the second time in two seasons Martz called more runs than passes in a game.

                                Marshall Faulk finished with 121 yards rushing as the Rams moved to 26-0 when Faulk reaches triple digits on the ground.

                                "I've always been pragmatic," Martz said. "You've got to move the ball any way you can and get points on the board.

                                "The whole notion about balance is fine as long as you're winning."

                                Martz has won more than most. His four-plus years leading the Rams have produced two NFC West titles and a Super Bowl berth.

                                Starting with 2000, his season records are 10-6, 14-2, 7-9 and 12-4.

                                "I do feel good about the job that I'm doing," Martz said. "I'm encouraged that we're going to get better and that's how I see my job.

                                "You take a group of guys and you help them become maybe something that they didn't know or weren't sure they could be, whether it's a particular player or the whole team, and where that takes you, it takes you.

                                "That's the thrill in coaching for me, and in that respect I feel like I've been successful."

                                Martz, 53, still has time to win that Super Bowl. "I've got a lot of coaching left in this little body," he said, "so we'll see what happens."
                                -10-10-2004, 01:09 AM
                              • RamWraith
                                Martz put his credibility on the line with latest ploy
                                by RamWraith
                                BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
                                Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
                                Friday, Nov. 12 2004

                                Mike Martz, playing the role of Bear Bryant?

                                The casting, to say the least, is unusual. But with Martz, we should never be
                                surprised. The NFL's most fascinating and quirky head coach was at it again
                                this week at Rams Park.

                                Leave it to Martz to conduct a psychology experiment in the middle of a season.
                                This player-friendly coach cracked down on his players, publicly calling them
                                out for their lackluster play. Then he put the boys through a tough,
                                full-contract practice, which went against his previous coaching standards.

                                It's good to see Martz morph into "Mad Mike" in a different way. We'll see if
                                the motivational ploy works on Sunday against the visiting Seattle Seahawks.

                                A few observations:

                                * The Rams' primary problem is a decline in overall talent. The offensive
                                line, neglected in the draft, is mediocre. The defense has only one player,
                                pass-rusher Leonard Little, consistently capable of altering a game with
                                big-play moments. Poor drafts are the root cause of the erosion in personnel.
                                The Rams have missed on too many premium picks. Period.


                                * If Martz wants a tougher and more physical team, fine. But you're supposed
                                to cultivate that attitude in training camp. It's difficult to transform a
                                team's personality over a few days. The culture must be gradually changed over
                                a period of time.


                                * Martz has, to an extent, put his credibility on the line as never before. By
                                going off on his players, he's gambling that they'll respond in a positive way.
                                But suppose the psychological tactic fails, and the same old Rams show up on
                                Sunday? He could lose the respect of his players. And then he could lose the
                                team.


                                As Others See Us


                                Bob Oates, Los Angeles Times, says that Martz should forget about the running
                                game, be himself, and air it out:

                                "Through three years and two Super Bowls, Coach Mike Martz has shown that he's
                                the best passing coach football has yet seen, but, now, he wants to integrate
                                running plays with pass plays and can't find the right recipe. In their big
                                years, the Rams didn't need a running game. And now, every week, they're
                                proving that they still don't understand the problem. Thus, Martz has been
                                operating a schizoid offense. Running the ball when defenses expect a run, he
                                bulks up with tight ends and blocking backs. Then, passing the ball when
                                defenses expect him to pass, he takes out the beef and inserts more speed.

                                "The result is that, at the start of most of their offensive series, the Rams
                                -- instead of passing...
                                -11-13-2004, 05:42 AM
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