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  • Martz has fans waiting to see if Rams respond

    By Bryan Burwell
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Nov. 14 2004

    It sure has been some wild and wacky week right here in the River City, hasn't
    it? First our favorite gray-haired football eccentric goes all Norman Vincent
    Peale on us - not once, but TWICE this week - in a very public
    effort to make friends and influence football players.

    "We don't hold hands and get in a seance and sing Kumbaya. I'm not into
    that. ... 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."

    -Mike Martz


    So now that Mike Martz has thrown down another verbal gauntlet to a world full
    of doubters - and in the process minimizing the importance of really good, old
    fashioned campfire songs - here we are again in a very familiar place. The Rams
    are in another do-or-die situation as the Seattle Seahawks come to the Edward
    Jones Dome with supremacy of the NFC West at stake. And once again Martz has us
    all on the edge of our seats, intrigued with how his football team will respond
    to his urgent words.

    Will they take to heart his warnings that this 4-4 season is at a crossroads
    and treat this game as though it is a desperate playoff game? Will they be
    inspired by his angry words and use them as emotional fuel to turn what has
    been a half-season of mediocrity into a strong second-half run to the
    postseason?

    "This is a game of attitude, pure and simple. This is not about ability,
    it never has been, never will be. Everybody in this league has got ability to
    play. Everybody's talented. Everybody's fast, everybody's big, everybody's
    strong. If you think that's the difference, you're sorely mistaken. This is
    purely a game of attitude."

    Martz was a man on fire this week, from his Monday afternoon rant when he said
    he was tired of "taking bullets" for underachieving players, to his
    inspirational, but exceedingly short Wednesday press briefing when he continued
    to challenge the players, then made them go through a full-contact scrimmage.
    He was so fired up as he stormed out of the news conference that by the time he
    marched onto the practice field, he was stalking around the field from one
    group of players to another. Martz looked like an emotional volcano. He looked
    like a man itching for a fight. He looked like a guy who was almost begging to
    find just one half-stepping player.

    "I am not happy with how we are playing period, regardless of a division
    race or anything else. I think the way we have played in the last two games is
    embarrassing. Not so much, whether you win or lose the game, just the way we
    play the game, period. We are going to do everything we can to rectify
    that."

    So here's what we're all dying to see after this mad week at Rams Park. What
    sort of team is this 10th edition of the St. Louis Rams? Does anyone really
    know?

    After so many years on top of the NFL heap, are we watching a flawed team on
    the verge of falling off the championship map? Or is this another edition of so
    many other Martz-coached teams, a strong-finishing squad that does not know how
    to quit on its coach?

    I'm not really sure which team we're going to get, but I have my suspicions.
    Over the last three seasons, Mike Martz-coached teams have consistently
    finished the second half of the season stronger than the first half. Last year,
    after reaching midseason at 5-3, the Rams had a stunning 7-1 regular-season
    finish to finish 12-4.

    When the Rams started the 2002 season with five losses, we knew a major
    disaster was on the way. But Martz climbed in their faces then in much the same
    way he did this week, and the result was a shocking 7-4 finish. And if you
    combine the 9-2 finish (including playoffs) in 2001, Martz's Rams have finished
    the past three seasons with an impressive 23-7 record.

    So there you have it. The history is there. The challenge is there. The
    motivation is there. All that is left to discover is whether Mike Martz's Rams
    will respond. If they do respond, that will surely be the thing that will take
    Mad Mike to a warm and happy place.

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  • RamWraith
    With playoffs on line, Martz goes down with ship
    by RamWraith
    By Bryan Burwell
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Jan. 02 2005

    Well now, isn't this just how he likes it? There is this great, big, hostile
    world of detractors swirling all around him once again, yet we find Mike Martz
    standing in the midst of this not-so-quiet storm doing what he always does,
    raging against the onslaught.

    In similar situations, some embattled souls might meekly peek their heads out
    the portal for just a second to cautiously gauge the conditions. But there is
    just a bit of Captain Ahab in the besieged head coach as he leads his St. Louis
    Rams into the final day of the NFL regular season at high noon Sunday inside
    the Edward Jones Dome. There he stands, defiant and combative as ever, chest
    puffed out, ignoring the turbulence churning around him. As always, he is Ahab,
    feet firmly planted on the deck of the Pequod, his eyes riveted just slightly
    above the horizon. All he cares about is the blind passion of his life's
    mission.

    You might want to know about Steven Jackson. You might beg for more dirt on
    Kyle Turley. You might want to know about running the ball more, and passing
    the ball less. You might be either overly embarrassed or deeply alarmed as the
    7-8 Rams stand here teetering on the edge of postseason elimination in this
    sudden-death showdown with the New York Jets.

    This is great theater for you. But you are not Mike Martz.

    "First of all, I'm not aware of all that - who's alarmed," he said earlier this
    week, his lip curling, his tone snarling. "Nor do I care, to be honest with
    you.

    "Next question."

    So he really is some kind of football Ahab, or at least that is how it seems
    sometimes. Doesn't it always appear as if he's on some monomaniacal mission?
    His friends say it is blind focus and hail it as his greatest strength. His
    enemies call it excessive compulsion, and swear it is his biggest weakness.

    So now by the grace of the football gods - not to mention the parity-challenged
    NFC - Martz has this flawed 7-8 team still in the hunt for a postseason berth,
    and he's not about to apologize for it. Does it matter that the Rams could
    sneak into the postseason as the unlikeliest division champ in NFL history if
    things fall into place by the end of the day?

    No, not at all, he'll tell you. "Have no fear of failing," he tells his crew.
    "Don't worry about how many games it takes to win it. .... You want to play at
    the highest level as well as you possibly play. And however that ends up, and
    how many games you win, well that's what it is. You can't do anything more than
    that."

    And ultimately, after all the...
    -01-02-2005, 05:03 AM
  • RamWraith
    Give the coach his due, he had the Rams ready
    by RamWraith
    By Bryan Burwell
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    11/15/2004


    Because he possesses an audacious and occasionally brazen coaching style that is equal parts hair raising and hair pulling, Mike Martz tends to be a rather polarizing fellow. There is no other head coach in the NFL whose every move is as scrutinized or criticized as much as Mad Mike. There's no other sideline boss in pro football who's so roundly imitated or so routinely denigrated as the Rams' head coach.

    Truly there have been a few too many Sundays when the hair pulling overwhelms the hair-raising nature of his football philosophies. But sometimes, the bashing needs to take a rest. Sometimes you just must give the man his due.

    This is one of those times. Criticize him next week. Save the hand wringing over his fast-and-furious approach to football for some other day, too. Just hold your tongue, put down your angry placards and stop with the irrational e-mails, because Sunday -all week, really - Mad Mike coached his rear end off.

    As he walked off the field at Edward Jones Dome after the Rams' inspiring (and inspired) 23-12 victory over the fraudulent Seattle Seahawks, our favorite gray-haired football eccentric was a man loving life. Mad Mike blew kisses to a few admiring fans, pumped his fist in the air and smiled broadly as he trotted gleefully through the end zone tunnel toward the locker room to the cheers of 66,044 witnesses to one of the most significant regular-season victories of his career.

    "I was just excited about getting these guys passionate again," Martz said. "If you don't coach passion every day, they start to slide."

    Well, Martz surely had done his job. He'd just coached a near-perfect game and a near-perfect week. No one mumbled about any failed strategies or any odd clock management. Heck, even when he threw two red flags to challenge a few officials' calls, the only booing that this delirious mob spit out was directed at the zebras.

    For the past six days, Martz had turned this week into a high-energy referendum on his ability to motivate a team that was on the verge of floundering into mediocrity. He had ranted and raged and challenged his players to step up and make plays and stop making excuses. It is always risky business when a coach goes public like this, because if the Rams had lost, it would have given Martz the appearance of nothing more than a desperate man.

    But the scoreboard glowed with good news. Rams 23, Seahawks 12, and he looked like a wise strategist. Martz kept talking about players making plays and that's precisely what they did as they once again exposed these phony-baloney pretenders from Seattle and reminded them who still has a firm grip on the supremacy of the NFC West.

    But if this was a game about players making plays as Martz kept telling us it would be, ultimately it was...
    -11-16-2004, 06:41 AM
  • RamDez
    Martz sees good karma in these Rams
    by RamDez
    By Bryan Burwell
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Jul. 23 2005

    In the waning weeks before the most important training camp of his professional
    coaching life, Mike Martz took an accidental trip down memory lane. At the
    start of a lengthy summer vacation, he and his wife, Julie, flew to San Diego
    on a house-hunting expedition, in search of the perfect vacation home. Yet
    after several frustrating days filled with too many houses with rotten views,
    shocking asking prices or both, their real-estate agent suggested they take a
    look at a "fixer-upper" that was about to go on the market.

    "He starts to describe where it was," Martz said. "And I looked at him and
    said, 'I think I know this place.' "

    The old house actually sat just behind the church where Mike and Julie Martz
    were married nearly three decades earlier. So as they approached their old
    stomping grounds, Mike and Julie both started grinning like giddy school kids,
    because it was the first time they'd returned to the church since their wedding
    day. And if that wasn't already enough of an emotional rush, the arousing
    stimuli was about to go off the charts.

    "We'd been seeing all these houses with outlandish price tags and so-called
    'ocean views,' " Martz said as he retold the story last week at Rams Park.
    "Well they were only 'ocean views' if you bent your neck around six different
    ways, the leaves fell off all the trees and the wind was blowing really hard so
    that the one tree bent way back . . . and then if you squinted
    reeeealllly hard . . ."

    By now, they were inside the old house, and as they opened the sliding glass
    doors, they couldn't believe the view from this otherwise unimpressive old home
    that sat snugly on the edge of this hillside. It was an unexpected, breathless
    panorama of both city and sea.

    "It was unbelievable, just breathtaking," Martz said. "And to top it all off,
    it's right behind the church where we got married? How's that for luck?"

    If you are into such ethereal things as luck, omens and karma, then don't you
    wonder if the successful but highly controversial Martz, entering his sixth
    season running the Rams, can keep this karmic joyride floating dizzily into his
    most significant training camp and season in his tenure as head coach?

    His defenders see no reason to think the good times won't continue to roll.
    They like to remind you that he led the Rams to the postseason for the fourth
    time in five seasons last season. They'll tell you he has the fourth-best
    winning percentage of any active head coach in the regular season.

    Yet they also will tell you they know his critics are lurking, swiping...
    -07-24-2005, 02:30 AM
  • RamWraith
    Martz shifts from mad to furious
    by RamWraith
    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    11/10/2004
    Mike Martz was ticked off Sunday evening after his team lost to the New England Patriots.

    He was still upset Monday afternoon when he broke down the game for reporters.

    And he was absolutely furious this afternoon before taking his team back onto the practice field.

    We’ve never seen Mike carry on like this at a news conference before. He became more and more agitated during his brief exchange with reporters.

    “I’m not happy with how we’re playing, period, regardless of a division race or anything else,” he said. “I think the way we played the last two games was embarrassing. Not so much whether we win or lose the game, just the way we played the game, period. We’re going to do everything we can to rectify that.”

    Can he go back to tape of the earlier Seattle victory and become energized by that?

    “I don’t need to look at tape to get energized. Not me. I don’t have to look at a tape to go to a happy place, to get energized. That’s just not who I am, sorry.”

    How did he assess the offensive line play after breaking down the tape?

    “We made our corrections,” he said. “That was unusual. That is the exception to the rule with that group. I’ve been very pleased with that group overall most of the year. That was not one of our better performances, but I wouldn’t single them out.

    “As a football team, we haven’t played well, period. We haven’t coached well, obviously, otherwise we’d play better. We can do something about all those things.”


    Geez, Mike, you haven’t been like this since becoming head coach. How did it come to this?

    “What difference does it make?

    “I know what the problem is. I do know how to resolve it. I’m going to see if we can get it done.”

    Will change come by doing things differently in practice; by saying different things to the team?

    “I would expect us to come out and compete better. That’s what I would expect, as a football team. We have a core of guys that you can hang your hat on. You can get up in the middle of the night and go out and practice them and they will give you all they got.

    “Now 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 bit in a couple of key areas. This is about attitude, pure and simple.

    “It’s not about ability. It never has been, never will be. Everybody in this league has the ability to play. Everybody is talented, everybody is fast, everybody is big, everybody is strong. If you think that’s the difference, you’re sorely mistaken. This is purely a game of attitude.”

    Have any of the veteran players spoken up to the younger players?

    “We don’t hold hands, get in a stance and sing Kumbaya My...
    -11-11-2004, 06:47 AM
  • 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, 06:41 AM
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