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Bye-Bye, Vacation: Martz, Rams back to work

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  • Bye-Bye, Vacation: Martz, Rams back to work

    Bye-Bye, Vacation: Martz, Rams back to work
    By Jeff Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Monday, Nov. 01 2004

    As far as the Rams are concerned, the NFL bye week is the pause that refreshes.

    For basically the fifth season under coach Mike Martz, the Rams have gone
    through their entire bye week without a practice. Such a regimen - or
    non-regimen - was almost unheard of in the NFL when Martz first instituted it
    in 2000, his rookie season as Rams head coach.

    "It was hard to do initially, because people just don't do it," Martz said
    Monday, after the Rams' first practice since their loss Oct. 24 to Miami. "You
    don't know how the players will take it. You trust these guys, and you tell
    them why you're doing it."

    The only asterisk to the Martz bye week plan came in 2001, when 18 players
    engaged in seven-on-seven passing drills on Wednesday and Thursday of the bye
    week. Everybody else was off. Most of the participants were special teams or
    scout team players, and almost all were rookies or young players.

    In 2000, '02, and '03 - and now, '04 - the bye week routine has consisted of
    only two weightlifting and conditioning sessions sometime between Tuesday and
    Friday. Otherwise, the players are off.

    "When you look at camp, and the preseason, and the first half of the season,
    their bodies kind of need the break," Martz said. "And when they come out of a
    bye, they usually feel pretty good. ... When we first did it, I was a little
    nervous about it, but I just felt like it was the right thing to do. It seems
    to work pretty good."

    It's hard to argue with the results. The Rams are 4-0 coming out of bye weeks
    under Martz, and an emphatic 4-0 at that. The combined score of those games has
    been 156- 57.

    Granted, the Rams had some very good teams in 2000 and '03. But even in '02,
    when given a week off for the bye following a 2-5 start, the Rams returned with
    a 27-14 victory at Arizona.

    "Hopefully, we can make it 5-0 on Sunday," linebacker Trev Faulk said.

    Easier said than done, considering Sunday's opponent is New England- 6-1 this
    season and the reigning Super Bowl champ.

    In five seasons with Tampa Bay, defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson remembers
    practicing every year during the Buccaneers' bye week.

    "And after the week was over, it didn't feel like a bye week at all," Jackson
    recalled. "It just felt like you had the weekend off."

    Things are done differently in St. Louis, at least under Martz. Under
    predecessors Rich Brooks and Dick Vermeil, the Rams usually practiced on
    Wednesday and Thursday of the bye week. In 1997, Vermeil's first year with the
    Rams, the team practiced Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of its bye week.

    Martz changed the routine in 2000, after the team got off to a 5-0 start.

    "The way he handles our (bye week) schedule, I think he does it the right way,"
    Jackson said. "You come back fresh and re- energized. It gives everybody a
    chance to take a deep breath, refocus themselves."

    When asked if he liked the bye-week concept, veteran offensive guard Tom Nutten
    replied: "What's not to like? Especially when it's in Week 8, halfway through
    the season more or less. It's nice the way Coach Martz has it, where it really
    gives us a good break, mentally and physically.

    "You get your lifts in, and you're done. You almost feel like doing extra. More
    than you have to do."

    Once the bye week ends, the Rams get an extra practice in on Monday - a day
    almost never used for practice in today's NFL. Martz uses it to knock the rust
    off from the bye week. And on this Monday, the team went at it in full pads.

    Many players used the time off to go home, or visit their alma maters.
    Offensive guard Chris Dishman, for example, attended Saturday's
    Missouri-Nebraska football game in Lincoln, Neb. The former Cornhusker
    participated in the 10-year reunion of Nebraska's 1994 national championship
    team.

    "It was a fun time," Dishman said. "A lot of guys came back, about 95 to 100
    guys, from that time. It's amazing how much memory loss you have. You come back
    and you don't recognize people. Ten years is a long time. I'm glad we had name
    tags."

    Tight end Cameron Cleeland didn't go home. He went to Arizona to work on some
    real estate business, and then took his wife to Chicago.

    "I got to shop with my wife, if that's fun," Cleeland said. He added,
    sarcastically, "That's really exciting."

    Rookie defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove stayed in St. Louis and played Mr.
    Fix-it.

    "Painted on my garage and my walls," he said.

    Jackson stayed close to Rams Park, getting treatment on his hamstring injury,
    but also found the time to attend Game 3 of the World Series and see the movie
    "Ray," about singer Ray Charles.

    "If Jamie Foxx doesn't win an Oscar, it's a shame," Jackson said. "That's one
    of the best performances I've ever seen."

    Offensive tackle Grant Williams spent some quality time - Halloween style -
    with his three daughters.

    "A couple costume parties that you have to do," he said.

    So was the 6-foot-7 Williams in costume?

    "Yeah," he said. "We're not going to talk about that."

  • #2
    Re: Bye-Bye, Vacation: Martz, Rams back to work

    Originally posted by RamWraith
    Bye-Bye, Vacation: Martz, Rams back to work
    By Jeff Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Monday, Nov. 01 2004

    For basically the fifth season under coach Mike Martz, the Rams have gone
    through their entire bye week without a practice. Such a regimen - or
    non-regimen - was almost unheard of in the NFL when Martz first instituted it
    in 2000, his rookie season as Rams head coach.
    I think the measuring stick is misleading. Just because the immediate game after the bye week has been a success, does not mean that there were elements of the game not needing addressed. Repeatedly sMartz has acknowledged the lack of preparation being a contributing factor in the team's failures at the most inopportune time.

    Although I can see easing speed and contact drills during this time, I don't see why the mental aspects shouldn't be addressed during the free time. Belichik refers to "situational training" where groups of people are forced to walk through dress rehearsals of possible game time situations. Whether it was STs in the past or the D in the present things need worked on. The Rams are not that good that they can ignore using their time more productively.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Bye-Bye, Vacation: Martz, Rams back to work

      I think every starter should have the week off and every guy who is not a starter and plays on special teams should be doing 2-aday's until they get it right.

      I was really frustrated to see the jets rip Miami, given the rams performance vs. Miami.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Bye-Bye, Vacation: Martz, Rams back to work

        This defense needs a lot of work, work that should've been done in the bye week. It's nice to let your players rest up, but I still think they should've had practices on Thursday-Saturday.

        Comment

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        • RamWraith
          Rams preparing for Patriots visit
          by RamWraith
          By R.B. Fallstrom
          AP Sports Writer
          Monday, Nov. 01 2004

          The St. Louis Rams would have liked being the team to end the New England
          Patriots NFL record 21-game winning streak, considering their last trip to the
          Super Bowl was a loss to New England after the 2001 season.

          Instead, the Steelers beat them to the punch. The Patriots (6-1) play at St.
          Louis (4-3) on Sunday.

          "Of course you would have liked to have gotten a crack at it," tight end Cam
          Cleeland said Monday. "But they're still Super Bowl champions, so they're going
          to be just as good as they were before that loss.

          "I guarantee you they're going to be hyped and want to come in and prove
          they are the best."

          Watching the Patriots lose 34-20 to Pittsburgh was among the bye week
          activities for most Rams players, including coach Mike Martz. He watched the
          game again on tape before the team returned to practice in full pads on Monday.

          "They lost that game the way they'd been winning games," Martz said. "They
          gave the ball up early."

          But to Martz, it doesn't make any difference that the Patriots are no longer
          unbeaten. To him, it's always been about the Rams' performance.

          "We're struggling to stay on top of the division any way we can," Martz said
          "Obviously the history we have with them is kind of special, but we're just so
          concerned right now about getting better."

          The Rams have plenty to prove. In the last game before their midseason
          break, they became the first team to lose to the lowly Dolphins.

          "We don't like the way we left that thing before the bye," defensive tackle
          Tyoka Jackson said. "We've got an extra day of practice just to focus on who we
          are and what we did, and try to eliminate the mistakes and play like the Rams."

          Under Martz, they're more likely to be themselves after some time off. He's
          4-0 after the bye, perhaps because he's willing to treat the week as a break.

          Players showed up three times for lifting and running but otherwise had time
          to heal from aches and pains. Cornerback Travis Fisher, shaky in his first game
          back from a broken forearm sustained in the preseason, will have more time to
          reacclimate himself with the defense.

          Offensive guard Chris Dishman is closer to health from a knee injury; tackle
          Grant Williams has gotten over a stringer; defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy could
          play for the first time since breaking a foot early in training camp, and
          Jackson expects to be back at close to full strength after missing two games
          with a pulled left hamstring.

          "We're by and large healthy,"...
          -11-02-2004, 05:18 AM
        • RamWraith
          Rams Look to Continue Post-Bye Success
          by RamWraith
          By Nick Wagoner
          Staff Writer

          It might feel like forever since the Rams last played, but in reality, it has been just a little more than a week since they lost to Miami.

          Heading into the bye week it would have been easy to stew about the loss that dropped St. Louis to 4-3, but it was more important to look ahead than back. Like any disappointing loss, the Dolphins game was hard to swallow, but there was no time to rest for the Rams’ coaching staff with the task at hand this weekend.

          As has been his custom, coach Mike Martz gave the players the week off and kept the staff working during the off time. The players were required to do some weight lifting and conditioning at least three times, but otherwise, they had the rest of the week as off time.

          Martz said the plan has been effective in years past, so he wanted to stick by it.

          “All of our byes have kind of fallen around the seventh, eighth, ninth week and when you look at camp and the preseason and the first half of the season, their bodies kind of need a break,” Martz said. “We have gone into bye with some pretty good records, undefeated at times, but still they need that body a chance to catch up. It seems to work pretty good.”

          It has indeed, worked well for the Rams, who are 4-0 under Martz in games after a bye week. Last year, St. Louis came off the bye week with a convincing 36-0 win against Atlanta on Monday Night Football. St. Louis is going to need some more of that magic this weekend.

          The Rams get a visit from defending world champion New England on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. The game certainly lost a little luster because of the Patriots’ loss to Pittsburgh yesterday, but it still carries a lot of weight for both teams for many reasons.

          Primarily, the Rams want to get back on track after the loss to the Dolphins. Heading into Miami, that track appeared to be the fast one, headed straight for another NFC West Division championship. A prime opportunity to expand their lead was missed when the Rams had trouble stopping Miami from making big plays and making any big plays of their own. St. Louis remains undefeated in the division and is still the leader in the clubhouse.

          Martz said winning the division is at the top of the priority list.

          “For us right now, where we are, we are struggling to stay on top of the division any way we can,” Martz said. “That’s the most important thing. Obviously, the Patriots and the history we have with them is kind of special. We are just trying to get in and we are going the right direction, so we are going to try to stay on top of it.”

          Now, St. Louis faces its tallest order yet in the form of the Patriots. The last time these two teams met, the stakes were much larger in Super Bowl XXXVI. The Patriots won their first of two world titles in the past three years on kicker Adam Vinatieri’s...
          -11-03-2004, 05:19 AM
        • RamWraith
          Rams Hold Another Physical Workout
          by RamWraith
          R.B. FALLSTROM

          Associated Press


          ST. LOUIS - It worked for the St. Louis Rams last week, so Wednesday was another good day for full-contact scrimmaging.

          The Rams responded to coach Mike Martz's decision to get physical last week with a 23-12 victory Sunday over Seattle for first place in the NFC West, but no one's satisfied. So twice a week for the rest of the season, counting game day, there'll be some heavy hitting.

          Players weren't complaining last week, and they're still not.

          "This is your job, you have to keep it up," wide receiver Isaac Bruce said. "You can't be on a roller coaster where one week you're up and the next week you're down.

          "If there's no consistency there, it just doesn't help the cause."

          Linebacker Trev Faulk said practicing physical helps him play that way.

          "If that's the formula, if that's what works, that's what we have to continue to do," Faulk said. "The most important thing is on Sunday that we have more points."

          To Martz, scrimmaging is a way of emphasizing fundamentals with a team that had slipped in recent weeks. Before beating Seattle, St. Louis had lost consecutive games to previously winless Miami and beat-up New England and the coach detected a loss of passion.

          "Sometimes what you see is what you coach, so we had to go back to basics," Martz said. "We've got to block and tackle better, we just do.

          "We're not where we need to be, but we're making progress and that's all you can do."

          Although Martz twice called out players last week, saying it was up to them which way the season turned, he said the scrimmages are not a form of punishment. On Wednesday, most of the contact involved the scout team offense and the first-team defense.

          "You get mad and start taking that stuff out on them, you'll lose your team," Martz said. "Then you need to get out of coaching and get an attitude readjustment.

          "It was never about that, it was about getting back to basics and getting your feet on the ground and getting physical again and enjoying that part of the game."

          Players never took it that way. Defensive tackle Tyoka Jackson noted that after the Rams lost 31-14 to the Dolphins, Martz gave the team the entire bye week off.

          Jackson said it was a matter of trust and loyalty.

          "His one concern is the players, and are we ready to play on Sunday?" Jackson said. "When you've got a guy like that you don't question his motives. He felt we had let ourselves down, most importantly, and let our coaching staff down, and you've got to take a hard look when he says something like that."

          There's another reason for keeping that edge: There are few dominant teams in...
          -11-17-2004, 06:35 PM
        • RamWraith
          Martz, Rams tackle their problems
          by RamWraith
          By Jim Thomas
          Of the Post-Dispatch
          Wednesday, Nov. 10 2004

          If he was Mad Mike on Monday, he became Really Mad Mike on Wednesday.

          The 2004 season has reached the critical-mass stage, and Mike Martz is doing
          everything he can to salvage it. Never mind the standings, the division race,
          or Sunday's NFC West showdown with Seattle. At the moment, Martz just wants the
          Rams to start playing better. A lot better.

          "I think the way we played in the last two games is embarrassing," Martz said
          Wednesday. "Not so much whether you win or lose the game - just the way we
          played the game. Period. We're going to do everything we can to rectify that."

          Including full-contact scrimmage work in practice.

          During the nine-on-seven run period, the first-team offense worked against the
          scout team defense. Then, the first-team defense worked against the scout team
          offense.

          With live tackling in both sessions. Yes, the Rams engaged in some live contact
          in training camp this summer, but those drills were performed almost totally by
          backups. Wednesday's work involved starters - basically everyone but running
          back Marshall Faulk on offense, and safety Aeneas Williams on defense.

          Scrimmaging in the regular season is unheard of in today's NFL. And it was a
          first for the "St. Louis" Rams. Not even in the Dick Vermeil days of three-hour
          practices did the Rams go full-contact.

          Longtime team officials said the Rams hadn't engaged in live practice
          scrimmaging in practice since the 1980s, during John Robinson's tenure as head
          coach.

          So Wednesday's work might fall under the category of desperate measures in
          desperate times. Martz wants the Rams to be more physical, and play a more
          violent brand of football. He wants them to block better. Tackle better.
          Compete better. Live tackling work in practices was a cattle prod to get that
          point across.

          "We've got a core of guys that you can hang your hat on," Martz said. "You can
          get out in the middle of the night, go out and practice them, and you're going
          to get all they've got.

          "What we're trying to do is get the rest of the guys up to that level. We were
          there for a while, and we've fallen off a little bit in a couple of key areas."

          So Wednesday's scrimmaging, coupled with Martz's message to the team Monday
          about accountability, are aimed at an attitude adjustment.

          "This is a game of attitude, pure and simple," Martz said. "It's not about
          ability. Never has been, never will be. Everybody in this league's got ability
          to play. Everybody's talented. Everybody's fast. Everybody's...
          -11-11-2004, 05:46 AM
        • Guest's Avatar
          Martz keeps team working
          by Guest
          Martz keeps team working
          The Associated Press

          ST. LOUIS (AP) - Even with an extra day to prepare for their next game, the St. Louis Rams won't be relaxing at home on Thanksgiving.

          Extra practice time also will be devoted to horrid special teams, the end result of a frustrating, up-and-down season and 5-5 record for coach Mike Martz, even if the Rams don't play until Monday at Green Bay.

          "If this wasn't a Monday night game, obviously we'd practice," Martz said Wednesday. "If we had a veteran team that was playing really well ..."

          But Martz doesn't. The Rams have 17 players with two or fewer years experience, players he's counting on to come through on special teams. He's still trying to get them used to the realities of life in the NFL.

          "What's irritating is their role primarily is special teams and it's almost as if they feel they shouldn't have to do that," Martz said. "But they'll learn because they'll either do it or they won't be here." Martz is reluctant to use too many starters on special teams for fear of wearing them out for regular duty.

          "You get all these other guys that should be doing a better job that don't, and you can't put them in there because they're going to beat you because they've demonstrated it," Martz said. "That's what I'm angry about."

          Players didn't seem to mind practicing on Thanksgiving. They also worked out on the holiday last year, although that was on a regular work week.

          "This is our job, this is the time of year we practice and play during the holidays," tight end Cam Cleeland said. "You've got to do it."

          Plus, Martz also is worried players might not retain everything that was installed in practice on Wednesday.

          "We practiced Thanksgiving last year and we were rolling, and we've practiced in years past, too," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "It's an extra day to prepare and to give us a whole day off, you forget everything you put in and come back a little rusty on Friday.

          "So I think it's a good idea to keep things going."

          Special teams rank 30th in the NFL in punt returns and 31st in kickoffs, kickoff returns and punt coverage. Sean Landeta is 31st out of 33 rated punters in the NFL.

          This week, there'll be an additional special teams walkthrough.

          "You can't really do special teams full go because that's a little dangerous," punt returner Sean McDonald said. "We've just got to know what we're doing more and be confident in what we're doing."

          Definitely, there will be changes in the lineup. Middle linebacker Robert Thomas, a first-round pick in 2002, will be restored to his job after five games, and Grant Williams will start at right tackle after missing...
          -11-26-2004, 05:35 AM
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