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  • Fewer rants, more raves from Rams Nation

    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    10/13/2004

    Rams Nation was feeling much, much better this week after that dramatic comeback victory at Seattle. Imagine the electronic mail "Letters to Gordo" would have received had the game continued going downhill for the Rams!

    Anyway, here is what folks were writing about coach Mike Martz and his team after Sunday's thrilling win over the Seahawks:


    * * *

    "I was watching the Rams game Sunday at the place where I frequently visit. The game wasn't going very well for the Rams at the time; they were down 24-7 in the second quarter. A guy I was talking with and his wife mentioned to me how the New York Giants and Kurt Warner won another game, then proceeded to blast Martz, saying he was the reason why Kurt was not in a Rams uniform. That kind of irked me, so I said that while I was glad for Warner, I also am a Marc Bulger fan because he still is part of this Rams team and we would like even more for him to do well. As for coach Martz, he's made his share of mistakes but that I still liked the way he ran his offense and I wish him the best in trying to turn the season into a successful one -- even though it's my opinion that our defense is not very good.

    "I pointed out even good coaches such as Jon Gruden are only as good as their personnel, with the salary cap and all. That didn't sit well with either one and that was the end of the conversation. It's a shame that they weren't around when Bulger led an incredible comeback to beat the No. 1-rated defense in the league. Probably, they would have the same enthusiasm as if their hero Warner had done so. It's amazing to me how people can be this way. . . . It's a good thing Warner was not a Cardinal because a good many people would probably turn their backs on the baseball playoffs and would be inclined not to support them."

    -- Patrick Galczynski


    GORDO: Well-stated. It's OK to pine for Warner – the man worked miracles at quarterback here – but at some point fans have to move on and enjoy the next regime.

    If sports aren't fun to watch, then what's the use of being a fan?


    * * *

    "Just got back from the Rams game! Wow! All those Super Bowl-squawking Seahawks fans were just in a state of confused shock leaving the stadium! A lot of stunned and quiet people! How could they lose after whipping the Rams all over the field? That was a major choke. I could feel the nervousness in the stands as the Rams rang up those TDs! The Rams were on the ropes, but showed some real heart coming back!

    "The Rams defense wasn't just a leaky bucket, it was a bottomless bucket! They got gouged. Rich Coady got toasted multiple times. He had an easy knockdown if he had just turned his head around on that one long TD. Got to give the Rams credit for the three-and-outs late in the game. Those were big. Otherwise, they got their heads handed to them most of the game.

    "Kudos to Trev Faulk (he should be knighted), and the Rams special teams! Shock, they actually played better than someone else's special teams! Seattle has one of the most sturdy special teams around, and the Rams actually looked better. That was a pleasant surprise. That missed field goal for Seattle hurt big!

    "Steven Jackson! I want more Steven Jackson! I love this guy! He just seemed to find plenty more holes than Marshall Faulk, or made his own. I saw several plays where he was wide open down the field, too, but Bulger missed him. Martz called a nice game really. He did an excellent job using Jackson more in the second half. Nobody should doubt Martz's aggressive play-calling now! Frankly, I'm quite content with Mad Mike's offense; it was the other areas (special teams and defense) that just killed me. Keep calling those deep plays, and give me more Jackson!"

    -- Dave Rostowsky


    GORDO: Yeah, this was a flashback to '99 all right. The speed of Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald allowed the aerial attack to open up. Jackson's powerful running provides an element this team badly missed. The throws to the tight end added more diversity.

    Suddenly, rival defensive coordinators have much more to worry about while game-planning against this team.

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  • 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, 06:07 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, 06:48 AM
  • 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, 06:27 AM
  • Nick
    Letters to Gordo: They're mad about Mike - PD
    by Nick
    Letters to Gordo: They're mad about Mike
    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    Monday, Sep. 12 2005

    The Rams moved up and down the field on the *****. They stuffed the San
    Francisco running game, for the most part. They controlled the time of
    possession.

    And yet they lost 28-25 in Week 1 of the 2005 NFL season.

    Rams Nation was definitely not pleased with coach Mike Martz, as you can tell
    from the following sampler of electronic mail to the “Letters to Gordo” bin:


    * * *

    “Losing to the Niners was pathetic. While a healthy Tim Rattay and an
    underrated defense may make those guys tougher than previously thought, losing
    to them is still unacceptable. How many games did the Rams lose last year where
    they gave up a TD on special teams that made the difference between winning and
    losing?

    “Contrary to what we saw in the preseason vs. San Diego, I thought the overall
    play of the defense was OK. Excellent against the run. If Rex Tucker and the
    special teams ever get it together, these guys could be real good.
    Unfortunately, the special teams for the Rams haven't had it together since
    1999-2000.”

    Andy Winford


    GORDO: I’m still not convinced that Rattay and Co. will win many games this
    season. Had they not gotten a boost from those egregious special teams blunders
    by the Rams, the ***** likely lose Sunday’s game going away.


    * * *

    “Well I, for one, am really excited about the improvement in the Rams special
    teams play. Last year, Amey would have returned the punt 76 yards.”

    John Robison, San Antonio, Texas


    GORDO: Thank-you! Good night! Drive safely!


    * * *

    “Headline: Martz Gets His (Backside) Kicked by Rookie Coach with Less Talent.
    Why? His offense beat our defense, his defense beat our offense, his special
    teams kicked the (stuffing) out of our special teams.

    "The ***** won two games last year. I wasn't sure before but he needs to go.
    His team got outplayed in every aspect of the game by a bad team. Say it. It
    needs to be said.”

    Tom Reilly


    GORDO: I agree with the headline, but not the premise. The Rams lost in
    maddening fashion, for sure, but it’s a bit early to fire him. Dennis Green,
    Herman Edwards, Mike Tice, Mike Holmgren, Mike Sherman and a bunch of other
    coaches had rough Week 1s as well.

    Let’s see if the Rams can pull out a tough road victory somewhere down the road
    to offset this debacle.


    * * *

    “The Rams were absolutely pathetic against the *****, who are by all accounts,
    the...
    -09-12-2005, 05:50 PM
  • 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, 03:00 PM
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