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  • Penalties for hitting QB give line fits

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    12/06/2004

    The Rams trailed Super Bowl champion New England by two points just before halftime Nov. 7 when defensive end Leonard Little was called for roughing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The 15-yard penalty extended a possession that resulted in a field goal, and the Pats cruised to a 40-22 victory.

    The call infuriated Rams coach Mike Martz as well as Little, who felt that the hit was unavoidable and legal. "I didn't hit him up high, I hit him in the chest area," Little said. "If it was helmet to helmet, then I could see them making a call. But hitting him in the chest and the stomach area ... I mean, what can I say?"

    Their ire was fueled further because an earlier hit by linebacker Mike Vrabel on Rams quarterback Marc Bulger wasn't flagged. Martz phoned Mike Pereira, the NFL's supervisor of officials, the next day to air his discontent.

    On Sunday it was more of the same when the Rams drew another dubious roughing-the-passer penalty. Tackle Jimmy Kennedy dropped San Francisco quarterback Tim Rattay just after he released an incomplete pass on third-and-7 at the *****' 7-yard line.

    Asked Monday if he were baffled at the way the roughing rule is being interpreted, Martz said: "Baffled wouldn't be the term I would choose. There were six of them that were the same hit (on Bulger) in Buffalo ... same hit, same thing, and it doesn't get called. But we get that every week with these quarterbacks.

    "I'm angry about it and frustrated. I don't understand it. I've complained about it. I don't know what to tell you."

    Saipaia will start

    Martz announced Monday that Chris Chandler would start on Sunday at Carolina while Bulger's bruised right shoulder mends. Martz also said that right tackle Grant Williams, who gave up the sack on which Bulger was injured, had lost his starting job.

    Blaine Saipaia entered Sunday's game late in the third quarter after another Williams mistake nearly resulted in a sack of Chandler. Saipaia will be in the lineup vs. the Panthers, Martz said.

    "There's a lot of things I like about Blaine," Martz said. "He has great feet, he's very strong, he has a terrific punch in pass protection. He's very athletic, can be off-balance and recover and make the block. He's a good run blocker. I think he has all the tools to develop into a really good player"

    Williams has been playing with several nagging injuries that "really diminished his strength and his ability to take on some things," Martz said. "You can see it when you watch him set. He tries to compensate. ... He began to struggle out there, and we needed to get him out of the game."

    Saipaia, 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds, made his first NFL start Nov. 21 in Buffalo because Williams was banged up. Saipaia said he thought he played "all right. I know I could've done a lot better."

    Martz gave him higher marks, though. "For an offensive lineman's first start in the National Football League, that was pretty significant. He did a pretty good job," Martz said. "He's going to make some mistakes, but physically, I think that he probably gives us a better opportunity right now. We need that guy that can take a bull-rusher on and stop him. He can anchor down pretty well. He's got that strength and that pop that you're looking for."

    Saipaia will face a big challenge, lining up against Julius Peppers, one of the league's top defensive ends. Peppers has nine sacks, which is tied for eighth in the NFL.

    No room for McDonald

    The Rams are last in the league in punt-return yardage, but don't blame the guy with the ball in his hands, Martz advised, even though Shaun McDonald is averaging just 4.3 yards a return.

    "It's not Mac," Martz said. "You stand back there and watch those guys coming down unblocked ... I'd start squawking like a chicken if I was him. I mean, nobody's blocking anybody on our punt return. Mac just hasn't had any room to breathe back there. ...

    "Let's give him a chance to get going, for crying out loud. We just don't do that."

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  • RamWraith
    Play of O-line embarrasses Martz
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Monday, Dec. 13 2004

    Although he yielded an early sack to Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers,
    Blaine Saipaia wasn't the problem Sunday. Far from it, according to Rams coach
    Mike Martz.

    "I think Blaine probably played as well, if not the best, of all the offensive
    linemen," Martz said Monday.

    It was a surprising statement considering the Rams have a five-time Pro Bowler
    at left tackle in Orlando Pace, and a two-time Pro Bowler at right guard in
    Adam Timmerman. Not to mention a consistent performer at center in Andy
    McCollum.

    And it also speaks volumes about Martz's dissatisfaction with the play of the
    offensive line in Sunday's 20-7 loss to the Panthers.

    "I would say that we have some very serious problems (on the line)," Martz
    said. "I think (Saipaia) played better than the rest of them. You can draw your
    own conclusions about the rest of it. I don't know what to tell you. I'm
    embarrassed about it to be honest with you."

    Martz expressed general concern about the pass protection for quarterback Chris
    Chandler. But he was particularly upset with some of the run blocking,
    particularly at the end of a sequence in which Arlen Harris carried the ball
    nine consecutive times.

    "The last two runs, we just don't block anybody," Martz said. "The third-down
    run, that thing might go in the end zone if we block who we're supposed to
    block."

    On the play in question, the Rams faced a third and 4 from the Carolina 27
    early in the fourth quarter. Harris gained 2 yards running off left tackle.

    "And on the fourth-down run, we don't block 'out,'" Martz said. "We all block
    'down.' Those are all issues I can't explain to you."

    On fourth and 2, Harris was dropped for a 1-yard loss by Panthers linebacker
    Mark Fields. Carolina took over on its 28 with 13 minutes 28 seconds to play,
    and the Rams never crossed midfield again.

    On the play, the Panthers lined up two defenders on the edge, one of whom was
    Fields. But the Rams blocked down - or towards the inside away from the edge,
    giving Fields a free shot at Harris.

    "Those things should never happen," Martz said. "There's a lot involved in that
    that needs to be straightened out."

    Martz said he and his coaching staff will consider lineup changes on the
    offensive line. But at this point of the season, there aren't many options. The
    Rams have only four reserve offensive linemen on the roster, and two of those
    four are injured.

    Guard Chris Dishman has been sidelined for the...
    -12-14-2004, 04:34 AM
  • Nick
    Manumaleuna impresses Martz
    by Nick
    Manumaleuna impresses Martz
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/17/2004

    MACOMB, Ill. - When Mike Martz said that tight end Brandon Manumaleuna has "been consistently excellent throughout practice and our preseason game; he's not had any lapses," the Rams head coach apparently had a lapse of his own.

    On the 11th play of the Rams' first series vs. Chicago on Thursday, blitzing Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer charged by Manumaleuna and sacked quarterback Marc Bulger. The 9-yard loss stalled the drive at the Chicago 15-yard line, and Jeff Wilkins booted a 33-yard field goal. The Bears won 13-10 in overtime at the Edward Jones Dome.

    So, Manumaleuna hasn't been perfect since camp opened July 27 at Western Illinois University. But he's been good enough that Martz probably can be forgiven for his episode of selective memory.

    "Brandon's come light years," Martz said. "He's done just a great job. He finally, at this point, I think, is ready to take off."

    The Rams certainly hope so, considering that in the offseason, they put up $8.3 million over five years to prevent him from going to Carolina as a restricted free agent. Manumaleuna, 24, said he appreciated the Panthers' interest. "It was good to know that you were wanted somewhere," he said.

    But he was glad that the Rams kept him. "I was comfortable with everybody here, I like everybody on the team, and the organization's fine," he said. "I looked at it as, I couldn't lose either way."

    After making only nine catches in his first two years since the Rams selected him in the fourth round of the 2001 draft, Manumaleuna came up with 29 catches for 238 yards last season, his first as the team's No. 1 tight end. He expects even more this year.

    "I would like to have better numbers after this year, so I do have some bigger goals. We'll see what happens," he said. The first step in that direction was the shedding of 13 pounds in the offseason, dropping him to 275 on his 6-foot-2 frame.

    "He felt that I'd be a better receiver, and he also wanted to get me more involved with the offense," Manumaleuna said. "So, he asked me if I'd come in a lot lighter. I did that, and ... everything's going well."

    Bulger's arm is fine

    Quarterback Marc Bulger reported that his right (throwing) arm was "a little sorer than it was" Monday, after he suffered what was termed a mild bruise. Bulger was bumped by tackle Greg Randall, who had been pushed back by defensive end Leonard Little.

    Bulger, who felt a jolt of pain to his upper arm, said he was scared "for about two seconds. But you know pretty quick if you're hurt or not, and I realized I wasn't."
    -08-18-2004, 01:26 AM
  • RamWraith
    Game film shows refs missed call on fumble
    by RamWraith
    Play was called a lateral, but really was a forward pass
    BY STEVE KORTE
    News-Democrat

    ST. LOUIS - After reviewing game film, St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz said that a play ruled as a lateral should have been an incomplete pass in the fourth quarter of the team's 31-27 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

    "It's not a lateral," Martz said. "There is no question about it. It's a forward pass. It's close. It's a lot closer than what it looked on the replay. His foot is on the white line, and the ball is being released behind his foot. The ball lands right on the white line. It's not a lateral."

    The controversial call came with 10:41 left in the game, and the Rams leading 31-24.

    As he was falling back, Rams quarterback Marc Bulger threw a short swing pass to running back Steven Jackson.

    The pass was off the mark, and landed in front of Jackson, who immediately turned and started to walk back to the huddle for the next play.

    Titans linebacker Peter Sirmon picked up the loose ball and started to run. Jackson recovered in time to tackle Sirmon at the St. Louis 29.

    The Rams immediately challenged the call, but it was upheld on instant replay because there wasn't conclusive evidence to overturn it.

    "I wasn't shocked," Bulger said. "I've been in the NFL now long enough not to be shocked by anything. Nine times out of 10, they'll just call it incomplete and give the reason of doubt to the offense. It's tough to overturn a play like that when there's not conclusive evidence."

    Martz reacted to referee Tom White's replay ruling by going ballistic. His face was bright red as he shouted at the officials.

    As upset as he was, Martz said he waited until Monday morning to look at tape of the play.

    "I was anxious to see it on tape when I came in this morning," Martz said. "You think about it all night, especially if we had lost that one."

    Martz said Rams defensive line coach Bill Kollar, known for his bellowing voice, was the one who alerted Jackson to the fact that the whistle signaling the end of the play hadn't blown.

    "I think we had all turned around," Martz said. "Bill Kollar was standing on the sideline, and he was going nuts. He's hollering, 'Get on the ball, get the ball.' That's when they all turned to get the ball.

    "I'm not sure the defensive players that were on the field would have thought about it if Bill hadn't been yelling. Bill got their attention."

    Martz quickly backed off his comment, saying that Kollar didn't start yelling until Sirmon was going after the ball.

    Battered, but not broken

    The Rams have sent tape of Titans strong safety Tank Williams hitting Bulger in the throat with his forearm in the...
    -09-28-2005, 04:10 PM
  • RamWraith
    Martz puts Rams on notice
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    11/08/2004
    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...
    -11-09-2004, 06:25 AM
  • AvengerRam_old
    Martz: "I'm not quitting."
    by AvengerRam_old
    Martz: I'm not quitting


    R.B. FALLSTROM

    Associated Press



    ST. LOUIS - As bleak as the situation looks, there's no giving up for St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz.

    Martz, whose fifth season with the team has been a semi-disaster, on Monday had a strong rebuttal to an ESPN report that he might consider quitting. The Rams were among the preseason Super Bowl favorites after going 12-4 last year but are 6-8 heading into the final two games.

    "I would never resign from this job," Martz said. "I love this job and I would never leave these guys. We've got a real solid crew of young players and it's going to eventually be a terrific team, and I'm not going to ever walk away from something like that."

    Martz has two years left on a contract that pays him $3.5 million annually, and he noted that he's financially secure.

    "I coach because I want to coach, and I love being here," Martz said. "That hasn't changed. We're going to forge on and get this thing back up and running the way it should be.

    "I'm one of those guys where that glass is always half-full and not empty. Sometimes it's hard to look at it like that but no, no, this guy's not going anywhere. No way, Jose."

    Martz is 51-32, counting the playoffs, since leading the Rams to their first Super Bowl championship as Dick Vermeil's offensive coordinator in 1999 and led the Rams to a 14-2 record and his own Super Bowl in 2002. This year has unraveled due to big problems early on with shaky defense and special teams, and lately with what used to be a high-powered offense.

    But this is where he wants to stay. Martz noted that earlier in the season he shot down speculation he'd be interested in the Dolphins vacancy.

    "This is where I want to retire," Martz said. "I have no interest in ever coaching for any other NFL team. We love living here, we love the organization."

    Martz hopes the return of quarterback Marc Bulger after missing two weeks with a bruised right shoulder can reinvigorate an offense that produced one touchdown while he was out. Bulger threw again on Monday with minimal problems.

    "He's ready to go," Martz said. "He's got very little effect on the followthrough, which is really the biggest concern."

    Backup Chris Chandler, 39, has been a major disappointment and might get released. He threw six interceptions last week in a loss at Carolina, then got yanked after going 1-for-6 for 1 yard and producing zero first downs in the first quarter of Sunday's 31-7 loss at Arizona.

    Jamie Martin, signed on Dec. 7 after being out of the NFL for more than a year, is the likely backup this week after playing the last three quarters on Sunday.

    "I believe in him," Martz said. "He's...
    -12-20-2004, 04:48 PM
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