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  • Landeta defers to coach on critique of punting

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Thursday, Nov. 25 2004

    In his most recent attempt to explain the Rams' mounting special-teams woes,
    coach Mike Martz pointed a finger squarely at punter Sean Landeta.

    The day after Sunday's 37-17 loss in Buffalo, Martz said: "Sean didn't punt
    well at all. And he hasn't for some time now, so that's a major issue." Landeta
    averaged 39.8 yards on four punts against the Bills. His net average per boot,
    though, was 2.8 yards.

    Jonathan "Freddy" Smith returned a line-drive, 39-yard punt 53 yards to the
    Rams' 5-yard line, setting up Buffalo's go-ahead touchdown in the third
    quarter. Landeta's next punt traveled 54 yards but also had less-than-ideal
    hang time, and Nate Clements took it 86 yards to the end zone.

    "Those always come back at you, those rockets that go down the middle of the
    field," Martz said.

    Asked on Thursday whether he felt Martz's criticism was fair, Landeta said:
    "He's the head coach, and whatever he feels is what the deal is. If he feels I
    need to punt better, then I need to punt better." Asked, then, whether he felt
    he needed to punt better, Landeta said, "I just gave you my answer."

    When punters are struggling, they normally recheck their fundamentals and
    mechanics. "If you think you're not hitting them well, you do all that, yeah,"
    Landeta said.

    The amount of blame that should be shouldered by Landeta, a 20-year NFL
    veteran, is debatable, considering the Rams haven't covered punts or kickoffs
    effectively all season. They stand 31st in the 32-team league in kickoff return
    coverage (24.6 yards) and 30th in punt return coverage (15.5).

    Landeta, 42, started the season with a rush. He was named the NFC special-teams
    player of the week after averaging 50.2 yards on five punts vs. Tampa Bay. At
    that point, six games into the season, his 44.8-yard average ranked him fifth
    in the NFL. His net average was 37.0 yards.

    Since then, Landeta's punts haven't traveled as far, and the average length of
    the returns has increased. In the last four games, his average is 41.1 yards,
    but his net - skewed badly in Buffalo - is 25.6.

    Overall, his 43.3-yard average is tied for ninth in the league. But his net
    norm, 32.5, is second to last.

    Talking turkey

    Martz put his troops through a 90-minute workout Thursday, then headed to his
    upstairs office at Rams Park for added preparation work for Monday night's game
    in Green Bay. His Thanksgiving dinner would have to wait.

    But that didn't mean he wasn't thinking about it. "Turkey, gravy and potatoes.
    I'm not real complicated," he said. Don't bother to pass the cranberries his
    way, though.

    "No, no, uh-uh, no," Martz said, virtually recoiling at the thought. "That's a
    subversive plot to undermine American culture, that's what that is."

    Pickett returns

    Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett was back on the field Thursday after missing
    Wednesday's practice because of a family illness. . . . Wide receiver Torry
    Holt (knee) and cornerback Travis Fisher (knee) saw limited action Thursday.
    "We're just going to let them try to recover a little bit, and then they'll get
    pretty involved in the next day or two," Martz said.

  • #2
    Re: Landeta defers to coach on critique of punting

    Originally posted by By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Thursday, Nov. 25 2004

    "Turkey, gravy and potatoes. I'm not real complicated," he said. Don't bother to pass the cranberries his way, though. "No, no, uh-uh, no," Martz said, virtually recoiling at the thought. "That's a subversive plot to undermine American culture, that's what that is."
    Well, well, well. Wonders will never cease. eM & eM said something profound which I can agree with. It must have been the 'shrooms.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Landeta defers to coach on critique of punting

      Landeta hasn't punted well, but that's not the only problem on special teams, the whole unit needs help.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Landeta defers to coach on critique of punting

        No doubt. Our ST need to crank it up in every phase of their performance, NOW!

        I wonder how GB Packers are looking into our ST for this MNF game. We must be ready.

        I like Landeta's response. I trust he'll make it effective on the field along w/everybody else.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Landeta defers to coach on critique of punting

          They stand 31st in the 32-team league in kickoff return
          coverage (24.6 yards) and 30th in punt return coverage (15.5).
          Hmm. Better than I thought. At least they're not dead last.

          Comment

          Related Topics

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          • RamWraith
            Martz says Landeta needs to produce
            by RamWraith
            By Jim Thomas
            Of the Post-Dispatch
            Monday, Nov. 22 2004

            Sleepless in St. Louis.

            It has come to that for Rams coach Mike Martz as he grapples with how to keep
            his team afloat. And more precisely, how to get a handle on the ongoing
            nightmare that is Rams special teams.

            "I went back and looked at it really hard this morning," Martz said Monday
            afternoon. "Didn't sleep at all last night. This is the first night in my
            coaching career that I didn't sleep. A lot of things went through my head. But
            the more I thought about it, the more clear it became.

            "And as I was able to talk to more coaches this morning, it even became more
            clear. I do know what the approach is and the course that we'll take."

            Martz declined to provide specifics. But a couple of things were clear by late
            Monday afternoon. For one, veteran punter Sean Landeta is now officially on
            notice. That became clear during Martz's Monday news conference.

            Buffalo returned three Landeta punts for 148 yards Sunday - a Bills franchise
            record.

            The punt return yardage total also was the second-highest ever recorded against
            a Rams team - exceeded only by Washington's 155 yards in punt returns against
            the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 21, 1963. Martz made it a point Monday to mention
            that not all of those Buffalo return yards were caused by faulty coverage.

            "We just punted the ball very poorly," Martz said. "A 26- yard punt, you know,
            that's not good. That's going to come back at you no matter how you look at it.
            Sean didn't punt well at all. He hasn't for some time now. So that's a major
            issue."

            Landeta's 26-yard punt came in the first half Sunday. Actually, there was no
            return on the play, with Nate Clements fielding it on a fair catch. But Buffalo
            took over on its 49 and scored its second touchdown of the game three plays
            later.

            Of course, the major damage occurred in the third quarter, when a 39-yard
            Landeta punt was returned 53 yards by Jonathan Smith to the Rams' 5, setting up
            a Buffalo TD. Less than 3 minutes later, Clements returned a 54-yard punt 86
            yards for a TD. Martz said the hang time on the 54-yarder was not good enough.

            "No, it wasn't," Martz said. "And those always come back at you - those rockets
            that go down the middle of the field."

            During his news conference, Martz also indicated in general that some players
            were in the process of playing themselves out of jobs - at least jobs with the
            Rams beyond this season. And in the case of defensive back Tod McBride, the
            Rams didn't wait until next season.

            The Rams were...
            -11-23-2004, 04:38 AM
          • RamDez
            Kickoff coverage improves for Rams
            by RamDez
            Kickoff coverage improves for Rams
            By Bill Coats
            Of the Post-Dispatch
            Thursday, Dec. 02 2004

            If there was a positive to be gleaned from the Rams' 45-17 shellacking Monday
            night in Green Bay, it was a marked improvement in kick coverage. After a
            shake-up in personnel, the Rams yielded an average of 18 yards on four kickoffs
            - their best showing of the season.

            "Field position is a real important part of the game, and that's what special
            teams is all about," said linebacker Drew Wahlroos, who had two tackles on
            kickoffs. "It was good to be able to make some stops. But there's always room
            for improvement."

            Only twice in the previous 10 games had Rams opponents averaged fewer than 20
            yards per kickoff return: 19.2 by San Francisco on Oct. 3 and 18.8 by Seattle a
            week later. In the five games since then, the Rams had surrendered an average
            of 28.1 yards per kickoff.

            In addition, the Packers had zero yards on punt returns. That's because
            newcomer Kevin Stemke, though he averaged only 30 yards on two punts, had good
            hang time and both boots resulted in fair catches inside Green Bay's 20-yard
            line. "That's very important, and that's why he's here," coach Mike Martz said.

            The week before, the Rams were shredded by Buffalo's returns. The Bills took
            one punt 86 yards to the end zone and returned another 53 yards, setting up a
            touchdown in a 37-17 victory.

            "I really felt terrible personally about the Buffalo game and the way that we
            performed on special teams," said linebacker Trev Faulk, who also had two
            special-teams tackles vs. the Packers. "We definitely are the unit that brings
            the offense and defense together, so we've got to hold up our end of the
            bargain."

            Still, the Rams lag badly in league special-teams statistics. Defensively, they
            rank 31st in kickoff coverage (24.1 yards) and are tied for 31st in punt
            coverage (15.5). Offensively, they're No. 31 in both kickoff returns (18.6
            yards) and punt returns (4.0).

            Faulk, Bruce get a break from practice

            Martz has eliminated - for now, anyway - the midweek live tackling sessions he
            instituted last month in an effort to add a physical edge to his team's
            attitude. On Thursday, in fact, the Rams practiced without full pads after an
            off-day for the first time in four weeks.

            "I think they're focused," Martz said. "I don't see the physical aspect of it
            being an issue right now. Now, we're kind of getting back to the regular-season
            routine."

            Martz kept running back Marshall Faulk and wide receiver Isaac Bruce on the
            sideline. Faulk has a bruised knee, and Martz wants Bruce, an 11-year veteran...
            -12-04-2004, 02:03 AM
          • RamWraith
            Horne is long gone, and Rams still feel it
            by RamWraith
            By Jim Thomas
            Of the Post-Dispatch
            Tuesday, Sep. 21 2004

            Who would have thought Tony Horne would be so hard to replace?

            From 1998 through 2000, Horne returned five kickoffs for touchdowns for the
            Rams - four in the regular season, and one in the playoffs. With Horne leading
            the way, the Rams led the league in kickoff returns and average drive start
            (following kickoffs) in 1999.

            He was considered one of the NFL's most feared return men when he signed with
            Kansas City as a restricted free agent after the 2000 season. But beset by a
            toe problem, he never played another game in the NFL, getting cut by the Chiefs
            on Sept. 3, 2001.

            Nonetheless, when Horne departed, so did the Rams' kickoff return game. They
            haven't scored on a kickoff return since Horne left. In fact, they haven't
            really come close. Only once since 2000 has the team had a kickoff return go
            for more than 42 yards, with coach Mike Martz going through a succession of
            return men:

            In 2001, Trung Canidate was the primary kickoff returner, but Yo
            Murphy, Dre Bly and Aveion Cason also had at least four returns apiece.

            In '02, it was Terrence Wilkins, but Canidate, Troy Edwards and
            Lamar Gordon also got in the picture, particularly when Wilkins was benched for
            the final three games of the season.

            Last season, Arlen Harris averaged 23.0 yards on 51 returns, but
            Mike Furrey (seven returns), Joffrey Reynolds (six) - remember him? - and even
            DeJuan Groce (one) also got into the act.

            So what does Martz look for in a kickoff returner?

            "Get us in good field position," Martz said. "The ideal guy would be a guy like
            Tony Horne, that's a threat to take it the distance at any time. That's what
            you'd like to have. But we don't have that right now."

            Not even close. Two games into the season, the Rams have one of the worst
            kickoff return games in the NFL. They have advanced the ball no farther than
            the 23-yard line on any return this season - and that's the only time they've
            advanced the ball past the 20 on a kick that actually was returned. (Sunday
            against Atlanta, they started on the 40 - per league rule - when Jay Feely's
            fourth-quarter kickoff rolled out of bounds.)

            Harris handled the Rams' first kickoff return of the season, against Arizona,
            but has since given way to rookie Steven Jackson.

            "Steven is fearless," Martz said. "He absolutely is, and he's a guy that will
            fly up in there and hit a seam and go with it. But the more involved he becomes
            in the offense, the less chance we'll use him as a kickoff returner."

            Jackson didn't return any kickoffs...
            -09-22-2004, 06:06 AM
          • RamDez
            Rams veteran punter still gets his kicks
            by RamDez


            Associated Press

            ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Rams punter Bryan Barker wouldn't mind giving the foul weather a swift kick.

            The 16-year veteran, who signed last week with the Rams, has done little punting as the team practiced indoors Monday and Tuesday at Rams Park. So far, he has not been able to compete much with rookie Reggie Hodges for the job since he was brought in Thursday.

            "I watched him (Hodges) play on Friday night. We've had rain since, and we're indoors here, and it's not really a place to kick inside here," said Barker, 41.

            "Hopefully, the competition will heat up. I wouldn't have come here unless I thought I had a chance to compete for the job."

            Barker has been working since 1990 when he broke in with Kansas City. After four years with the Chiefs, Barker spent one year with Philadelphia and punted for Jacksonville for six years. Barker then spent three seasons with Washington before joining Green Bay last year. In all, he has appeared in 227 games. Barker has made 1,082 punts in his career with an average of 42.1 per kick.

            All those travels have left Barker with a veteran's mentality. He knows punters are changed as often as oil in a car. It comes with the territory.

            "I wouldn't say (you need a) thick skin; you just need to be very levelheaded," Barker said. "You deal with the good and the bad and don't get too excited with the good and don't get too down with the bad. It's one kick at a time, the old cliche."

            Staying in shape, Barker said he expected to get a call from a team sometime in August. He was watching his son run in a track meet in New Orleans when the Rams called.

            "I've been doing it a long time," Barker said. "You always have to be ready."

            That's why the Rams signed him.

            Hodges, a sixth-round draft choice from Ball State, began training camp as the only Rams punter on the roster. However, he did not put a stranglehold on the job.

            In the Rams' first night practice, Hodges did not perform to expectations.

            That performance convinced Rams coach Mike Martz to bring in another punter to provide Hodges with competition. The move also gave Martz some veteran insurance.

            "After watching Reggie and his inconsistencies, we have to protect ourselves," Martz said. "In terms of a punter, I'm a front-runner all the way, I can promise you that."

            In the preseason opener last Friday, a 17-13 victory over visiting Chicago, Hodges punted six times for a 39.8 average. He placed three punts inside the 20. He had a long kick of 49 yards.

            "The thing with Reggie Hodges is consistency," Martz said. "He has the talent to be an outstanding punter. The one thing he has to do is do it when the pressure is on, so we have tried to...
            -08-16-2005, 03:57 PM
          • RamWraith
            Rookie punter has a long day
            by RamWraith
            Associated Press

            ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Rams rookie punter Reggie Hodges had a day he would just as soon forget about.

            But it doesn't work that way in the NFL. The sixth-round draft choice averaged just 33 yards on five punts in Sunday's 37-31 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and his net average was a poor 28 yards.

            "This is a bottom-line production business," special teams coach Bob Ligashesky said. "He's good enough to do it, but none of us can afford to learn on the job. We're counting on him to come through."

            Seattle scored 20 points - two touchdowns and two field goals - after four of Hodges' punts. Coach Mike Martz wasn't ready to make a decision on Hodges' future yet.

            "I will review that," Martz said. "It's hard to talk about that at this point right after that game. Obviously, he did not kick that well, but we will have to review the tape and see."

            What did Hodges think about his day?

            "I don't think," Hodges said. "I can't make any excuses. I didn't hit the ball well, plain and simple."

            Hodges' first punt, a 42-yarder, was his best of the day. His second effort went 33 yards and Seattle took over at the St. Louis 44, scoring three plays later to take a 14-7 lead.

            Hodges said there's little he can do after a poor punt but keep working on his technique. Like a closer in baseball who gets rocked, he moves on.

            "I just forget it. I get the next punt in my mind and the last one out," Hodges said. "That's all I can do. Once it leaves my foot, that's all I can do."

            Early in the third quarter, Hodges punted from the St. Louis 22 and his 37-yard effort was returned 24 yards by Jimmy Williams to the Rams 35. The St. Louis defense limited the Seahawks to a 44-yard field goal by Josh Brown, putting Seattle up 27-21.

            Hodges' final punt was a 22-yarder that put the ball at midfield, leading to another field goal that put the Seahawks ahead 37-24.

            The punting made the job more difficult for a defense that gave up 433 yards.

            "It's definitely about field position at the end of the day," middle linebacker Chris Claiborne said.

            The crowd of 65,707 booed loudly after each of Hodges' punts. Hodges admitted he heard the disapproval of the fans.

            "You definitely hear them when you're running off the field," Hodges said. "But I'm not worried about the crowd. You just have to forget about it and go out there and hit the next ball."

            Hodges was the Rams' only punter at the start of training camp. After a poor outing in a night scrimmage, St. Louis signed veteran Brian Barker, but he punted only a few times before being released.

            Overall, Hodges is averaging 39.4 yards on 17 punts. Frequently, Ligashesky...
            -10-10-2005, 06:48 AM
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