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  • Martz gets tough with Rams-John Clayton

    Sunday, November 14, 2004


    By John Clayton
    ESPN.com

    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 séance 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 field and treated the players worse than the writers. Hitting was live. "I've never been in a practice like that," halfback Marshall Faulk said. Linemen could hit as if they were in a game. Backs could be tackled.


    To make matters worse, Martz stormed around the practice field with his whistle and nasty attitude. He chided the defense if they gave up 2 yards by saying "2 yards is too much." He called out players who didn't hustle.


    "We had a nine-on-seven drill that was live and I had a whistle," Martz said. "If the offense started to run against our defense, I would yell, 'First do-o-o-o-w-n, Seattle,'" Martz said, trying to sound like retired ref Red Cashion. "We had fun."


    The point was made. Hustle or get out. So the Rams hustled. Perhaps there was no batter example than Aeneas Williams' hustle in the fourth quarter. Seahawks halfback Shaun Alexander broke a 35-yard run down the left side of the field. He maneuvered around Rams defenders, but Williams, who had been in man coverage, chased him down and stripped the ball from his hands at the Rams' 14.


    Remember, this is a Rams defense that had only two interceptions and five forced fumbles in eight games. Williams, the Rams' oldest position player at 36, saved a potential touchdown. This was the same Williams who lost his starting free safety job this week because of a stinger problem that had affected his play.


    "There he is coming up with a big play, yanking the ball out and we get the ball," Martz said. "That was probably the turning point and the most critical point in the game for him to make that play. I'm very proud of this team and how they responded. The most important thing at this point is next week, and we need to continue with this type of effort."


    Which means more physical Wednesdays.


    "We needed to get aggressive," Williams said. "That's the definition of football. Football is hitting. Coach Martz has attempted a number of things to motivate this team. We knew what was needed. We had lost a couple of games, and we were being embarrassed."


    For years, Martz was criticized for being too soft on his players. During bye weeks, he gives players the entire week off. During the first four years, they won each game after the bye week. But last week after the bye, they lost by 18 to the Patriots. No more Mr. Nice Guy.


    “ We needed to get aggressive. That's the definition of football. Football is hitting. Coach Martz has attempted a number of things to motivate this team. We knew what was needed. We had lost a couple of games, and we were being embarrassed. ”
    — Aeneas Williams, Rams safety


    To his critics, Martz is basically saying, "Screw it." He's criticized for not running the ball enough, so he came out in his biggest game of the year Sunday and threw the ball 13 straight times. His defense wasn't going to lose focus in the red zone. Six times, the Seahawks penetrated the Rams' 30. They ended up with four field goals, two turnovers and only 12 points.


    "We knew we had to get it in gear," Archuleta said. "We don't like to do the things we did in practice, but evidently it works. We were more physical. As players, you don't like it, but as players, you control that by playing well and we hadn't done that. Our pursuit was outstanding today."


    So was the Rams' resilience. The offense survived plenty of adversity. In the first quarter, wide receiver Torry Holt was leveled by Seahawks safety Terreal Bierria. He suffered a concussion that was so bad he started talking about credits needed to graduate in college. Martz shut him down for the rest of the game.


    In the second half, the Rams lost two offensive linemen -- guard Chris Dishman to a minor knee injury and left tackle Orlando Pace to an ejection for bumping into side judge Don Carlson. Grant Williams moved from right tackle to left tackle. Tom Nutten, who came out of retirement to be a backup, played left guard. Blaine Saipaia finished the game at right tackle.


    The Rams settled into more of a running game in the second half and ended up with 202 yards rushing on 31 carries, a very un-Martz-like performance. "Those things happen with the running game when you come out passing," Martz said.


    So the harder practices will continue.


    "I think that this team needed that," Martz said. "We had gotten into practice habits that were more geared to the veterans. In 2001, we were in shorts and sweatshirts for most of the time in practice. They knew how to play and they had been playing together for a long time. It was just a coaching error on my part. We have to get back to basics with a lot of these guys, like taking blocks and shedding them. Wednesdays are violent practices and that is the way it has to be for a while."


    The Rams now have back-to-back cold weather games in Buffalo and Green Bay. There is no truth to the rumor that Martz will have the Rams practice in cold meat lockers like Rocky to prepare them for these fights.

    By John Clayton

    At least he did his job last week! As much as he drives me crazy, he makes my day with all the success he has given the team with all the highs and lows. To me winning the SB should be the goal, but you have to qualify for the playoffs so at least we are getting a chance to acheive said goal with some regularity ....

    Bulger and MArshall were awesome and Mr. A. Williams too. I hope the sMArtz man can keep this team going as most of the NFC is weak except for the Eagles and ATL.

    Maybe we could get to the playoffs and win one game ....

    I have to admit that reading a lot of posts during preseason and seeing the schedule I didn't think we would be in contention but you never know with a little luck we could ... make it to the playoffs :king:

    At this point that is all I am hoping for!

    For x-mas I want are new DC & ST coaches and some quality picks.

    That's all!

    FLO :redface:
    Socrates: Surf to live! and Live to Surf!

  • #2
    Re: Martz gets tough with Rams-John Clayton

    Well, good for Martz. Clayton, Jaws, and Mort seem to be the most level headed talking head at ESPN.

    Comment

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    • 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
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      or Sunday's NFC West showdown with Seattle. At the moment, Martz just wants the
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      "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
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      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
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      So Wednesday's work might fall under the category of desperate measures in
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      violent brand of football. He wants them to block better. Tackle better.
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      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
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      "This is a game of attitude, pure and simple," Martz said. "It's not about
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      -11-11-2004, 05:46 AM
    • RamWraith
      Martz puts Rams on notice
      by RamWraith
      By Jim Thomas
      Of the Post-Dispatch
      11/08/2004
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      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.

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      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.

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      -11-09-2004, 05:25 AM
    • RamWraith
      Martz has fans waiting to see if Rams respond
      by RamWraith
      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
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      "We don't hold hands and get in a seance and sing Kumbaya. I'm not into
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      -Mike Martz


      So now that Mike Martz has thrown down another verbal gauntlet to a world full
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      all on the edge of our seats, intrigued with how his football team will respond
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      Will they take to heart his warnings that this 4-4 season is at a crossroads
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      "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
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      strong. If you think that's the difference, you're sorely mistaken. This is
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      Martz was a man on fire this week, from his Monday afternoon rant when he said
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      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
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      find just one half-stepping player.

      "I am not happy with how we are playing period, regardless of a division
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      -11-13-2004, 07:04 PM
    • RamWraith
      Martz says Rams worked against fake
      by RamWraith
      By Bill Coats
      Of the Post-Dispatch
      11/08/2004
      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.

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      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
    • Nick
      Rams go full contact during practice
      by Nick
      Martz, Rams tackle their problems
      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....
      -11-10-2004, 11:28 PM
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