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  • Martz puts Rams on notice

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Mike Martz fielded all the questions Monday about what went wrong against New England. And there was a lot of ground to cover, because obviously, a lot went wrong in the Rams' 40- 22 loss to the Patriots.

    But then totally unsolicited, he offered some thoughts about accountability. More specifically, the accountability of Rams players.

    "This is my fifth year here," Martz told reporters, referring to his 4 1/2-season tenure as Rams head coach. "You guys have been with me long enough to know, I've never tried to mislead you. Sugarcoat it. If I've screwed something up, I'll tell you.

    "You try and take a bullet (for a player) whenever you can. But there comes a time when some of these guys have just got to play. Step up and make a play. Players make plays. That's just the way it is.

    "And that's not a cop-out, or brushing it off on these guys. But I'm upset. We've got some guys that we're counting on, that have got to step up. That's the way it is."

    Martz wouldn't name names. But it's clear he has put his team on notice. He is growing increasingly frustrated over execution - or lack thereof - on the playing field. The team continues to make too many mistakes, and too few plays, on game day.

    Martz made many of these points to his players and coaches Monday during a team meeting. Right now, Martz is searching for something to jolt his team out of its current skid - a skid that includes two straight losses, but also recurring problems on special teams, on defense, and in pass-blocking.

    The sense of urgency has never been greater because if the Rams don't display a dramatic reversal of fortunes this Sunday against Seattle, the season could be all but lost.

    The Seahawks are 5-3; the Rams 4-4. If the Rams win, they pull even with Seattle record-wise at 5-4, but actually take the NFC West lead because they hold the tiebreaker edge by virtue of a 2-0 sweep in head-to-head competition.

    But if the Rams lose to Seattle, they're two games back, and face the daunting task of playing four of their next five contests on the road.

    "We just didn't play well (against New England)," Martz said. "That's not a secret. We all saw that. We've played much better in the past and I'm confident that we'll do that again."

    But how? What's the way out?

    "We understand what our problems are, and what we need to address," Martz said. "And there may be some personnel changes."

    But eight games into the season, it's not like Martz and the Rams can reinvent the wheel. The 53-man roster is what it is, and there's not much left on the streets.

    So it looks like Chris Dishman will continue to start at left guard and Grant Williams will continue to start at right tackle. Scott Tercero's shoulder injury is such that he might be able to continue playing, but at the moment, it's difficult for the Rams to count on him in a starting role at either right tackle or left guard.

    There simply aren't many other options. The Rams could try Tom Nutten at left guard, but he hasn't played in an NFL regular-season game since November 2002. The Rams also could look at rookie Larry Turner at guard. Turner was an all-conference selection at center as a senior at Eastern Kentucky, but played guard all of his junior year and part of his sophomore season.

    Overall, the pass-blocking problems against New England went much beyond Williams and Dishman. There were breakdowns across the board.

    Martz said Marc Bulger's lost fumble on a sack late in the second quarter came under a maximum protection pass-blocking scheme. On a sack of Bulger at the start of the third quarter, Martz said, "We had six guys - seven guys - blocking and we get beat. ... So what are you going to do? That's not so much the issue - the scheme - at this point. It's just that when you've got a guy to block, you've got to block him."

    Martz said he made some adjustments against New England in an effort to overcome the pass-blocking problems. "We were in the shotgun and we threw a bunch of slants," Martz said. "But you've got to start getting some chunks (bigger plays) after a while."

    Defensively, the Rams are considering a couple of changes this week at linebacker, which has been one of the most unsettled units on the team this season. Already, the Rams have started three different middle linebackers, and two different strongside 'backers. There's a chance Robert Thomas or Brandon Chillar, or both, will be back in the lineup against the Seahawks. After sitting out two games with a sprained ankle, a healthy Thomas was reduced to a backup role against New England.

    But as with the offensive line, the team's defensive problems against New England went beyond one or two players. Well beyond. Simply stated, the Rams aren't getting off blocks. And if you're not shedding a blocker, you're not going to make a tackle.

    "You've got to get off blocks and get all 11 (defenders) on the ballcarrier," Martz said. "You cannot rely on one or two guys to make the play."

Related Topics


  • RamDez
    Martz reflects: Rams on the bubble may be in trouble
    by RamDez
    Martz reflects: Rams on the bubble may be in trouble
    By Jim Thomas

    Of the Post-Dispatch

    MACOMB, Ill. - Mike Martz looked downright sour after the game Thursday. He barely said anything to his team in the locker room. He answered only a handful of questions in his postgame news conference. And then he retired to the privacy of his locker room area at the Edward Jones Dome to stew over the Rams' 13-10 overtime loss to Chicago.

    "Down deep inside, you can play marbles, and my blood's going to get going," Martz said Saturday. "I mean, you just compete."

    For most of the first three quarters Thursday, the Rams did just that. It wasn't always pretty. But the Rams were winning 10-3, and when the Bears took over at their 12 late in the third quarter, St. Louis had a 248 to 161 edge in yards gained.

    "I felt like we were in control," Martz said. "They had a couple big runs where we just overran things. Otherwise, I think we shut them down really good. And I know that first group in there on offense - I think they're ready to roll."

    In a game that Chicago seemed to treat a lot more like a regular-season contest - with lots of blitzing on defense and some trick plays on offense - the Rams still appeared to be headed for victory.

    But then it unraveled over the rest of regulation and the 17 seconds of overtime, when the Rams were mainly using players who either won't make the team or will be down on the depth chart.

    "I knew what was going on out there, and it's hard to bite the bullet sometimes," Martz said. "But I just don't like to lose. ... But I also know that it's my responsibility as a head coach to make sure that we have an opportunity to evaluate all these (young) guys in these types of situations."

    So Martz and new defensive coordinator Larry Marmie kept things basic - and watched.

    "We've got to know about these guys," Martz said. "You can't trick things up. You've got to kind of keep it simple and just let 'em play and see what they do."

    By early Saturday evening, after film review and with nearly two days to digest the game, the big picture was back in focus for Martz. And he felt much better about what transpired Thursday night.

    "All in all, I was very pleased, particularly in the first half with both groups (offense and defense)," Martz said. "I'm happy with this football team. I'm happy with the first (units) that I know we're going to play with."

    On the offensive line, he singled out the play of right guard Adam Timmerman and right tackle Scott Tercero for praise.

    "Scotty Tercero has really come to the forefront," Martz said. "He has really, really done well in the last few weeks. I hate to admit this:
    -08-15-2004, 01:11 AM
  • 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

    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

    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
  • fearlessone
    Martz gets tough with Rams-John Clayton
    by fearlessone
    Sunday, November 14, 2004

    By John Clayton

    ST. LOUIS -- Mike Martz has been praised and criticized for being the Mad Scientist of offense. Since last week's loss to the New England, Martz was just mad.

    Mad coaches live on the edge. Players usually respond big or fall flat. The Rams responded big Sunday. Martz cracked the whip earlier in the week and the Rams responded like a champion horse down the final furlong. Five days after Martz turned his Wednesday practice into a live scrimmage, the Rams hit the turf looking to hit somebody.

    Mike Martz and the Rams got the best of Mike Holmgren's Seahawks for the second time this season.
    Marc Bulger fired 13 straight passes coming off the opening kickoff, completing eight for 119 yards. Defenders chased down Seahawks offensive players relentlessly. Before the game was 18 minutes old, the Rams had a 17-0 lead on the way to what turned out to be a convincing 23-12 victory. The win gives the Rams all the tiebreaker edges in the now-even NFC West.

    "We had to go back to basics and identify things that we are not doing well, tidy them up and get them cleaned up on Wednesday," Martz said. "The players appreciated it. They responded very well."

    Appreciate might not be the right word here. For the usually jovial Martz, the days leading up to the victory over the Seahawks was much like an episode of Fear Factor. For seven days, there was no more Mr. Nice Guy.

    It appeared the players' coach had turned anti-player after back-to-back losses. His quotes to the St. Louis press were classics. One quote: "We don't hold hands and get in a sťance and sing Kumbaya." Then there was this one straight from Jim Fassel's quotebook: "You're on the train or you're not. Get out, period. I know where I'm going, you're either with me or you're not."

    This was coaching. The masterful strategist calls it an "attitude adjustment." He called out the team publicly. Privately, he called out a handful of players for not doing their jobs. He threatened putting players on the bench. He put tape together to show sloppy or non-existent effort. The embarrassing loss to Miami in particular caught everyone's attention.

    "He showed us videotape of the Miami game where guys quit running," safety Adam Archuleta said. "Those are things we had gotten away from. You can't give up on a play. You need 11 hats getting to the football. Playing hard and playing aggressive is the key to a lot of things. If you have that down, schemes take care of themselves. It's more attitude than anything."

    Wednesday's practice was wild. It started after Martz cut a 15-minute press conference 10 minutes short with quick, terse answers. He stormed to the practice...
    -11-15-2004, 06:39 AM
  • RamWraith
    Martz says Rams worked against fake
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    The Rams worked Friday on defending a fake field goal by New England. They even covered the possibility of the kicker taking a quick snap and tossing a pass toward a wide receiver on the sideline.

    "We'd practiced that," coach Mike Martz said Monday. "Walked through it, talked about it, ran it."

    And sure enough, the play unfolded Sunday early in the third quarter at the Edward Jones Dome. "The exact same thing," Martz noted. But rather than being ready for it, the flummoxed Rams were caught flat-footed.

    As they milled about the line of scrimmage, long snapper Lonie Paxton zipped the ball to kicker Adam Vinatieri, whose toss to a wide-open Troy Brown on the left side resulted in a 4-yard touchdown.

    Instead of a field goal making it 22-14, the Patriots' lead ballooned to 26-14. A 40-22 loss dropped the Rams (4-4) into second place in the NFC West, with pacesetting Seattle (5-3) coming to town Sunday.

    While viewing the game tape, Martz discerned the fatal flaw on the fake kick: Cornerbacks Jerametrius Butler and Dwight Anderson were scurrying to switch sides so that Anderson's sore shoulder would be protected in the rush scheme. No one was within 10 yards of Brown when the ball floated into his arms.

    "Not too much to say about that," defensive end Leonard Little said. "It's another mistake we made."

    The most egregious error on that play was the failure to call a timeout, Martz said, even though the players on the field noticed that something was up. "They recognized it, but they were caught in the middle changing over. It was a comedy of errors," Martz said. "You can't blame it on the two corners. We should have enough experience here that ... you need to see it and just burn a timeout. It's just inexcusable, really. I'm really kind of at a loss for words on that one."

    Upon further review

    As he promised to do, Martz phoned Mike Pereira, the NFL's supervisor of officials, on Monday morning. Martz probably brought up several areas of concern, but it's a good bet that a non-call on Pats linebacker Mike Vrabel, who clobbered sliding Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, was at the top of his agenda.

    That was particularly galling for the Rams because Little later received a dubious 15-yard, roughing-the-passer penalty for hitting New England quarterback Tom Brady just after the ball had been released. Martz wouldn't disclose the details of his chat with Pereira, but he said he was satisfied with the talk.

    Problems vs. running game

    Only four teams in the NFL are yielding more rushing yards per game than the Rams, which throws their next three games into the "Yikes!" category.

    Seahawks running back Shaun...
    -11-09-2004, 05:24 AM
  • RamWraith
    Martz to Rams: All is forgiven
    by RamWraith

    Knight Ridder Newspapers

    ST. LOUIS, Mo. - (KRT) - St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz just wants his team to have some fun.

    Martz feels like the Rams have been too uptight during their current slump, which has included four losses in their last five games.

    "It is legal to have fun and play professional football," said Martz as the Rams (5-6) prepared to play their archrivals, the San Francisco ***** (1-10), at noon today at Edward Jones Dome. "You can do that. That's what we have tried to stress with our guys. They are concerned about making mistakes, and they've played tight.

    "You can't do that. You can't play tight. I want to get them away from that."

    Martz said he's adopted a policy of amnesty toward any player who makes a mistake as long as they are hustling at the time. That includes wide receiver Isaac Bruce, who fumbled twice resulting directly in two touchdowns for the Green Bay Packers in their 45-17 win over the Rams on Monday night.

    "When you have good people and people with good character and you know where their heart is, all sins are always forgiven," Martz said. "That's why I'd never say anything to Isaac about the fumbles. I know Isaac. Nobody hurts more than Isaac does when that happened.

    "Nobody works harder or is more committed. Those things you just move on from."

    Despite their recent troubles, the Rams remain in the thick of the NFC West race, one game behind the division-leading Seattle Seahawks in the win column.

    "Every week is an opportunity," Rams defensive end Bryce Fisher said. "The one thing about the National Football League is you have 16 times to prove yourself. We really want to get back out there on Sunday and show we can play better than we have."

    The ***** own the worst record in the NFL. They've lost six straight games. But they'd like nothing better than putting a big dent in the Rams' playoff hopes.

    "You always want to be beat the Rams," ***** tight end Eric Johnson said. "We wouldn't mind taking them out of the playoffs. It should be a good battle. We're looking to get our first win in a long time."

    The Rams' defense has been shredded for 556 rushing yards over their last three games.

    Overall, the Rams rank 28th in overall defense and 31st in rushing defense.

    Martz blamed his team's defensive troubles on the transition from a Cover-2 defense to a defense that relies on multiple schemes and more pressure under new defensive coordinator Larry Marmie.

    Martz said he tried to institute the change gradually because he didn't want confuse his players, but that decision backfired as players have been slow to embrace the change in philosophy after three seasons under former...
    -12-05-2004, 06:26 AM