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  • Rams' injuries have been too much to overcome

    By Jeff Gordon
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    Tuesday, Dec. 14 2004

    During stretches of Sunday’s loss at Carolina, the Rams played without their
    defensive catalysts.

    Defensive end Leonard Little, linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa and cornerback Travis
    Fisher moved in and out of the fray due to injuries and illness.

    Safety Aeneas Williams bowed out, too, due to his lingering “stinger” injury.
    Of course, quarterback Marc Bulger and running backs Marshall Faulk and Steven
    Jackson were also sidelined by injuries.

    And would-be offensive line stalwarts Dave Wohlabaugh (center) and Kyle Turley
    (right tackle) haven’t been around all season, after failing to recover from
    off-season surgery.

    You add it all up and the Rams just didn’t have enough . . . which has become
    the story of their season.

    Certainly some individuals could have played much better this season,
    particularly among the defensive line, linebackers and safeties. Rams fans will
    always find plenty of reasons to second-guess coach Mike Martz, too, given his
    eccentricities.

    But in the final assessment, the Rams’ key injuries have been just too much to
    overcome.

    To wit:

    -- The offensive line has been in flux since training camp, since injuries to
    veteran back-ups Chris Dishman and Grant Williams, plus young reserve Scott
    Tercero, compounded the loss of Turley and Wohlabaugh.

    Sometimes the unit has held up. But at Carolina, Martz viewed its performance
    as embarrassing, noting that young right tackle Blaine Saipaia was the best of
    the five starters.

    -- The offensive and defensive leaders of this team, Faulk and Aeneas Williams,
    are no longer Pro Bowl-caliber players. Faulk looked like his old self in brief
    stretches this season, but a nagging knee injury has sent him to the sidelines.

    Williams’ “stinger” has rendered him ineffective all season. Why does he
    continue attempting to play?

    These two future Hall of Fame inductees have been the heart and soul of the
    Rams in recent seasons.

    -- By losing Bulger and Jackson as well, the Rams suddenly lacked their usual
    offensive firepower.

    “This is such an odd deal because offensively we have always been OK, sometimes
    good, but never been bad like that, and that really upsets me, as you can all
    imagine,” Martz said at his Monday news conference. “Yet these are all things
    that we can fix. We’ll just move on from there.”

    Arlen Harris gave the team a game performance at Carolina, but the pitiable
    Chandler threw six interceptions as Martz refused to scale back his game plan.

    “I have to do a better job with Chris,” Martz said. “That’s clearly a weakness
    right there. There are some things about his game that I was unclear about,
    like where he was, and that’s much better defined for me now.

    “It’s much easier for me to call a game and not put him under bad situations. I
    could help him a lot more, and we need to help him up front. We have to do a
    better job of protecting him.”

    -- Injuries kept the defense in flux as well. Safety Adam Archuleta,
    cornerbacks Fisher and DeJuan Groce, defensive linemen Jimmy Kennedy and Tyoka
    Jackson and linebackers Robert Thomas and Tommy Polley have all missed time
    and/or played hurt this season.

    So Martz has a good excuse why the Rams are threatening to miss the playoffs
    one season after a 12-4 finish. But he doesn’t want his team finding excuses
    not to win.

    “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for you, you have to go get it done,” Martz said.
    “That’s what you’re here for. Find a way, and that has to be the motto, you
    just have to find a way to get it done. Fix what’s broke and move on. You have
    to have a short memory about this stuff, and not let yourself get beat down
    emotionally where you can’t pick yourself back up.

    “You have to keep fighting, and competing. That’s what we’re focusing on, and I
    don’t know any other way.”

    At least Martz is prepared to go down with a fight, which, unfortunately, is
    the best this depleted team can do.

  • #2
    Re: Rams' injuries have been too much to overcome

    Pretty decent article, I think. Other teams have injuries, but I sincerely doubt there has been another team in this league that has been raped of players through injury like we have and has been more successful. The Panthers are an interesting example, but like us, are sitting at 6-8.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rams' injuries have been too much to overcome

      This might all be palatable if we didn't get punked by a team that lost twice, count 'em twice, to the whiners. NO EXCUSE.

      Comment

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      • Nick
        Rams' victory looked more like a non-loss
        by Nick
        Rams' victory looked more like a non-loss
        BY JEFF GORDON
        Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
        Sunday, Dec. 05 2004

        Rams coach Mike Martz tried to ooze confidence and enthusiasm after the Rams’
        16-6 victory over the San Francisco ***** on Sunday afternoon.

        “I’m just excited about where this team is going,” Martz gushed. “What it does
        is get you excited about the rest of the season.”

        Well, we’re glad one person is excited about the 6-6 Rams heading into the
        final month of the season. This reporter cannot join that club.

        The Rams should have destroyed the horrendous ***** inside The Ed. Instead,
        they lost quarterback Marc Bulger to a sprained shoulder and had to scuffle for
        their modest 10-point victory.

        Their pass blocking was lousy, as Bulger can attest, and the offense needed a
        couple of 52-yard Jeff Wilkins field goals to beat a shorthanded, overmatched
        defense.

        Bulger suffered his shoulder separation when Bryant Young sacked him late in
        the first quarter. (The fact that hapless Rams tackle Grant Williams fell onto
        the pile, too, probably didn’t help.)

        Martz said Bulger’s injury is similar to one he suffered against Miami, only
        somewhat worse.

        “He’ll be back,” Mad Mike assured us. “Whether it’s this week or not, I don’t
        know. But he should be back relatively soon.”

        Well, Bulger better jet back soon -– because back-up Chris Chandler nearly
        suffered a four-turnover game filling in for him. He threw an interception,
        lost a fumble and nearly had two other passes picked off.

        “I thought he was outstanding,” Martz said of the 900-year-old Chandler. “To go
        in there and have the awareness of where everybody is and make the plays . . .”

        Yeah, well, Chandler threw one terrific touchdown pass to Torry Holt -– but
        only after Holt came back to snatch a badly under-thrown bomb moments before.
        Otherwise, Chandler wasn’t as dazzling as he was during the preseason.

        Let’s face it, the Rams needed to thrash the *****. They needed to punctuate
        their inevitable victory with an exclamation point.

        The Rams have been teetering for a month and a half. They had lost four of
        their previous five games before facing the 1-10 *****.

        The list of struggling Rams seemed to grow by the week: Grant Williams, Damione
        Lewis, Sean Landeta, Tommy Polley, Adam Archuleta, Robert Thomas, Ryan Pickett,
        Tom Nutten . . . players were buckling left and right.

        Some of these key individuals had folded completely, making you wonder if they
        had already scoped out new careers.

        In addition, team leaders Marshall Faulk (battered knee) and Aeneas Williams
        (neck/shoulder...
        -12-06-2004, 01:10 AM
      • RamWraith
        Martz expected to be back next season
        by RamWraith
        By Jeff Gordon
        Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
        Monday, Dec. 20 2004

        We expect Rams coach Mike Martz to be back next season.

        Team executives John Shaw and Jay Zygmunt are rational men who don’t rush to
        judgements. Martz’s career won-loss record is still better than most head
        coaches, despite this 6-8 downturn, and he has a ton of dough left on his
        contract.

        As we noted last week, the rash of Rams casualties provides Mad Mike cover for
        this season. The decimation of the offensive line, the demise of team leaders
        Marshall Faulk and Aeneas Williams, the loss of quarterback Marc Bulger and the
        nagging injuries plaguing the front seven were too much to overcome.

        However . . .

        In order to retool this team, the franchise must also retool its football
        operation. As colleague Bernie Miklasz explained with great clarity, General
        Manager Martz left Coach Martz with too little to work with this season.

        Look no further than the decision to dump Kurt Warner and replace him with
        Chris Chandler.

        Rams insiders insist that Warner had to go, due to his eroded relationship with
        his teammates and head coach. A divorce was best for everybody. But if the team
        was happier without Kurt, it sure hasn’t shown it during this season.

        Injuries go a long way toward explaining what happened this season, but these
        Rams haven’t played with much passion – to use one of Mad Mike’s favorite
        phrases. That 31-7 loss at Arizona will stand among the franchise’s most
        embarrassing performances since coming to St. Louis.

        As for Chandler, the poor guy never had a chance. Even the most casual Rams fan
        knew he would become a liability if pressed into duty.

        Whenever the Rams faced Chandler the past few years, folks around here were
        thrilled with the match-up. He played one dreadful game after another against
        the Rams, folding whenever the going got tough.

        We pointed this out when Chandler was signed. We pointed it out when Bulger got
        hurt, forcing Chandler into the starting assignment.

        Martz became indignant when your cyber-correspondent warned of impending
        calamity. He insisted Chandler would be fine.

        He was wrong, terribly wrong, and Chandler’s miserable play probably cost the
        Rams another trip to postseason play.

        “It goes back to the inability to function at one position,” Martz told
        reporters after Sunday’s game. “You hold the whole team hostage.”

        That the Rams had to pull career back-up Jamie Martin off street, scrape off
        his 13 months of rust and hurl him into combat . . . well, that’s just
        unthinkable.

        (That Martz threw Chandler under the bus Sunday...
        -12-20-2004, 04:33 PM
      • RamWraith
        Rams defenders respond after Martz tirade
        by RamWraith
        By Jim Thomas
        Of the Post-Dispatch
        Sunday, Dec. 12 2004

        CHARLOTTE, N.C. - After watching his Rams fall behind 14-0 in the first
        quarter, coach Mike Martz got in some, uh, face time with some young defenders
        on the sidelines.

        "They had that shocked look in their eyes a little bit," Martz said. "I got in
        their face pretty good. A couple of them ended up coming out of it and making
        some plays for us.

        "They just have to know how to respond. You just can't lay down and take it,
        where you get shocked and in awe. You just have to make a play, or else you
        need to find another profession."

        Martz feels there have been too many occasions this season when the Rams,
        particularly the younger players, get down in the dumps when bad things happen.
        That usually leads to more bad things.

        After he challenged them to show some toughness in the first half, the Rams
        limited the Panthers to two field goals the rest of the way.

        Muffed call on muffed punt?

        As if Chris Chandler's six interceptions weren't bad enough, the Rams committed
        a seventh turnover on Shaun McDonald's muffed punt with 6 minutes 23 seconds to
        go in the third quarter.

        Carolina recovered on the Rams 21 but was unable to score in part because of
        three penalties. Rams coaches, including Martz and special teams coach Mike
        Stock, were incensed that there was no penalty called against the Panthers for
        fair-catch interference on the muff.

        Punt returners are supposed to have a "halo" of 2 yards on fair catches -
        meaning defenders can't be in that area. It appeared that a couple of Panthers
        were inside the halo, possibly distracting McDonald as he tried to catch the
        ball.

        "I just felt for certain that it was going to be called," Martz said. "And (the
        referee) said he wasn't in position. That's his job to be in position to see
        that. That's his job. So that's a hard one to swallow."

        But Martz was quick to point out that the non-call didn't cost the Rams the
        game.

        Injury update

        Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, arguably the Rams' best defensive player this
        season, continued to play through a shoulder injury he has had since Game 1 of
        the season. Tinoisamoa left the game twice after aggravating the injury, but
        returned on both occasions after brief sideline stays.

        "It's all right now," Tinoisamoa said. "It came out again."

        Tinoisamoa said he will go back to wearing a harness to protect the shoulder.

        The outlook isn't as good for safety Aeneas Williams, who aggravated a shoulder
        injury on the...
        -12-13-2004, 06:39 AM
      • RamWraith
        Martz Q&A--Bryce Fisher OUT!
        by RamWraith
        Compiled by Jeff Gordon
        Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
        Advertisement

        So what's up with the Rams? The team was busy Wednesday at Rams Park.

        After practice, coach Mike Martz reported that defensive end Bryce Fisher and guard Tom Nutten would miss the Arizona game with injuries. "Other than that," he said, "we're pretty healthy. (Safety) Zack Bronson turned an ankle and I think it is a pretty significant ankle (injury.)"

        Martz also ran through the team's various personnel moves in the last couple of days. Here are some highlights of the news conference:


        On trading running back Lamar Gordon to the Dolphins:


        "Lamar is a terrific value. I believe he is a terrific back. This is a situation for him to go down there and be the starter. We do have these backs that played very well. It was just an opportunity, value-wise, that we couldn't pass up.

        "He is excited about this opportunity. He feels great. The reason we gave him the ball 22 times in the course of that (Raiders) game in two quarters, we needed to know if he was ready for go for us this year. Obviously, other people were watching, too. I thought he was terrific in that game. We'll miss him. I think he is a terrific talent. It always makes you nervous when you have a talent like that move on."


        On his confidence in Steven Jackson as the No. 2 running back and Arlen Harris as the No. 3:

        " . . . Arlen (Harris) has such a significant role on our special teams, Steven has done a terrific job. We feel Steven, at this point, is ready to play. We feel very good also about Arlen Harris and the camp that Marshall (Faulk) has had. We feel he is ready to go.

        " . . . You don't know, in the crystal ball, what could happen. You could go through all those guys.


        On Jackson's progress:


        "His work ethic, his commitment, his maturity really kind of surprised me. . . . He conducts himself with a great deal more maturity than you would expect a rookie to have. He seems to thrive on the pressure. He wants to be in the game all the time, he wants the ball all the time. Yet he has a certain dignity, a quiet confidence about him."


        On Faulk's status:


        "If there was any doubt at all about Marshall's health, or how far along Steven was, or even that Arlen can play, all three of those things are statements about each one of those guys."


        On safety Jason Sehorn's failure to pass his physical because of his lingering foot injury:

        "After the second surgery, it just hasn't healed as well as we had hoped, where he might consider coming back. It just wasn't a situation where he felt comfortable, nor did the doctors."


        On the addition of offensive linemen Darnell
        ...
        -09-08-2004, 07:32 PM
      • RamWraith
        Martz raves about offense
        by RamWraith
        Compiled by Jeff Gordon
        Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
        09/13/2004

        Mike Martz talks with Rams QB Marc Bulger on Sunday.
        (AP)

        Rams coach Mike Martz can't stop raving about his team's offensive line play in Sunday's 17-10 victory over Arizona.

        "The offensive line, as a group, was just outstanding," Martz told reporters Monday afternoon. "I have to single out Andy McCollum as having the best game he's had since he's been here. He was dominating.

        "I told our staff today that I felt like this was probably our best performance as an offensive line since I've been here. Any time you rush for those kind of yards (176 yards; 5.9 yards per carry) and don't give up any sacks, that's pretty exceptional. When you look at the tape, they are sustaining blocks. The things they were able to do were, I was very pleased. I was very pleased how physical they were.

        "They haven't missed a beat, like they did in camp. They are just a tough group. We've had all kinds of different combinations in there throughout the training camp, but (the coaches) kept everybody focused. (Chris) Dishman comes in, loses 20 pounds, right now he's played through the preseason, gotten himself into shape, played very well. Grant Williams on the right side was doing a terrific job."

        Technically, teams do not have to issue information about injuries until Wednesday. So when Martz was asked about the injuries to two of his five linebackers -- Pisa Tinoisamoa (dislocated shoulder) and Trev Faulk (hamstring) -- he said, "I kind of know what that injury situation is and we'll be fine."

        Other highlight's of Martz's press conference:


        On his team's offensive miscues:

        "In the first three possessions, offensively, we turn it over, which is always a concern. If we hadn't done that, we were in position to really take charge of that game early."


        On the red-zone inefficiency:

        "There were a couple of situations in the red zone where basically I screwed up the verbiage in it and we had to call a timeout. I would take that third-down-and-two (Cam Cleeland tight end around run) play back. I felt like the structure defense they do in the goal line it would be good. I guessed there a little bit and they came off the edge. We didn't get the ball in the end zone. That's a coaching error. I can do a better job of that."


        On Marc Bulger's interception:

        "After looking at the interception, I know what he did. He was fine where he was throwing it. We had a receiver turning up instead of turning out on that thing; he brought the defender, at the last second when (Bulger) was throwing the ball, right into the throwing lane. He tried to pull off the ball and the ball took off on him. . . .

        "I thought...
        -09-15-2004, 04:59 AM
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