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  • An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

    Bernie Miklasz
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    12/25/2004

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz



    Calling John Shaw ... paging Mr. John Shaw ... please call Rams Park, Mr. Shaw, there's an emergency ... paging team president John Shaw ...

    Only Shaw can save the Rams, just as he did a long time ago.

    To preserve the future, the Rams must learn from their past.

    Let us return to the early days of January, 1999.

    The Rams had just staggered through a dull, disastrous and depressing 4-12 season. The offense was stagnant, the defense was limp and head coach Dick Vermeil was disoriented.

    Shaw summoned Vermeil to Los Angeles for a meeting in the team's Century City offices. The goal: Lead the lost Rams out of the darkness and into the new century.

    Shaw gave Vermeil a list of things to do: Hire a new offensive coordinator, get a new quarterback, locate some playmakers and cut back on the marathon practices to improve locker-room morale.

    Nudged by Shaw, Vermeil hired Mike Martz to design a new offense. Tony Banks was fired, replaced at quarterback by free agent Trent Green. The Rams parted with a couple of token draft picks to pilfer future Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk from Indianapolis. And the ensuing results were of fairy-tale dimensions, too preposterous to predict. Shaw's intervention led to a 14-2 regular season, then a Super Bowl championship.

    And now, nearly six years later, Shaw must step in and do it again. It's the only chance the Rams have for peace and prosperity in the immediate future.

    If anything, Shaw has even more to do now. In early 1999, Shaw had to rehabilitate only one football man, Vermeil. But now Shaw has to find a way to put three personalities back together again.

    Shaw must mediate the front-office battle between president of football operations Jay Zygmunt, general manager Charley Armey and Martz, the head coach and would-be CEO.

    The Rams have a dysfunctional front office, contaminated by distrust and paranoia.

    The Zygmunt-Martz relationship, once so warm, has turned cold. Armey is out of the loop; his authority has been reduced to that of a glorified scout. The three wise men spend too much time worrying about what the others are saying, and doing, behind the scenes.

    No wonder the Rams are misfiring on draft picks and free-agent signings; the football brains of the organization are distracted by the increasingly contentious inter-office chess match to determine who will be left standing as king. When Zygmunt, Armey and Martz are working in harmony, dedicated to a common goal, they can construct a good football team. But this collision of egos is doing too much damage.

    Shaw is a persuasive negotiator, but can he unify his football leadership? I doubt it. The rupture may be too great. And if that's the case, Shaw has two basic choices:

    One: Clarify the power structure and put one in charge, leaving no space for ambiguity or interpretation.

    Two: Fire all three and start over.

    Option No. 2 isn't likely.

    Contractually, Martz already has most of the power in the football side of the organization. And Martz also has two years remaining on his contract, which means the Rams will owe him a guaranteed $7 million. Shaw is too vigilant in protecting ownership's money to cut Martz a $7 million check to go away.

    But even if Shaw lets the front-office feud go on, he must get Martz under control. Martz is a tormented coach. He wastes too much energy and emotion fretting over front-office politics, media control and inconsequential matters. Martz is distracted from doing his most important job, which is coaching the Rams on Sunday. There's just too much turmoil at Rams Park; in his most recent dust-up Martz got into a nasty argument with injured right tackle Kyle Turley during a meeting in the coach's office.

    Martz simply cannot function when he's trying to be the point man on so many areas. Martz is trying to keep his players from bailing on him. He's trying to be the GM. He's trying to outmaneuver Zygmunt and Armey. And Martz is trying to be the media-relations director, instituting a bizarre set of rules for media access to practice. Martz was apparently convinced that a media member was spying on his team and relaying the game-plan to opponents. I don't watch practice, so I don't care, except for this: shouldn't the coach be, well, coaching?

    Even on his best days, Martz's attention wanders. But lately, Martz's level of concentration has deteriorated to the point that he admittedly couldn't remember if he played No. 1 draft pick Steven Jackson at running back in last Sunday's game. Martz neglected to use Jackson, which was shocking on two fronts. First, Martz never attacked Arizona's poor rush defense. Second, Martz continues to stay with the declining Faulk, who has produced the meager total of 35 yards rushing in 30 carries in his past three starts. Martz even acknowledged that Faulk decides when Jackson should be used in a game. Strange. If Faulk has such control over Martz - and is guaranteed a starting job for as long as he wants it - then why did the Rams draft Jackson?

    Martz seems to be operating on his own astral plane, unable to look down to see the real world and adjust to the new shape of the Rams. Martz no longer has a dynamic fleet of playmakers on offense, and he doesn't have the offensive line to make it all spark. But Martz won't square up to reality. He insists on running the same offense that wrecked defenses from 1999-2001.

    Even with Chris Chandler all but whimpering in the pocket the past two games, rattled beyond hope, Martz wouldn't downsize the offense and minimize the weakness at the quarterback position. And this is unusual, because in 2003 Martz did a superb job of squeezing 12 wins out of an offense that he scaled down, in large part, to accommodate QB Marc Bulger's relative inexperience. But last season Martz focused on football, and his coaching often was exceptional. This year, his mind is drifting in too many directions, and his game management is more baffling than ever.

    That's the most alarming aspect of Martz's performance. Through all of his eccentricities, Martz always could be counted on to brilliantly find ways to put points on the board. But that's no longer true. The 2004 Rams are sputtering, ranking only 22nd in points scored among the 32 teams. The mighty Martz offense has generated only two touchdowns in the past three games.

    Martz will be back in 2005, unless he decides to quit, which is unlikely. But Shaw must order Martz to concentrate on coaching and coaching only.

    Can Shaw save Martz from Martz and get the Rams back on track for 2005? I simply cannot believe Shaw will stand by, doing nothing, as Martz implodes.

    Calling John Shaw ...

  • #2
    Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

    man, talk about jumping on a bandwagon....................... I bloody hate Bernie the Dolt

    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

      This is a typical Bernie article. Its like he's walking out of kitchen with a sandwich saying - "Look what I came up with! You put the meat in between two slices of bread. I'm so clever. Nobody ever thought of this before!"

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

        This is what every losing team experiences....finger pointing.

        Unfortunately, it can snowball into a pretty bad scenario.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

          Shaw must mediate the front-office battle between president of football operations Jay Zygmunt, general manager Charley Armey and Martz, the head coach and would-be CEO.

          The Rams have a dysfunctional front office, contaminated by distrust and paranoia.

          The Zygmunt-Martz relationship, once so warm, has turned cold. Armey is out of the loop; his authority has been reduced to that of a glorified scout. The three wise men spend too much time worrying about what the others are saying, and doing, behind the scenes.

          No wonder the Rams are misfiring on draft picks and free-agent signings; the football brains of the organization are distracted by the increasingly contentious inter-office chess match to determine who will be left standing as king. When Zygmunt, Armey and Martz are working in harmony, dedicated to a common goal, they can construct a good football team. But this collision of egos is doing too much damage.

          OK. It is evident that Bernie "cribbed" Hadley's insights. If he gets paid on a per piece basis, I hope he shares it with Hadley.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

            OK. It is evident that Bernie "cribbed" Hadley's insights. If he gets paid on a per piece basis, I hope he shares it with Hadley.
            I got that impression as well from reading Bernie's "insightful" article...

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

              Well in the years I saw here in so cal, Shaw didn't do much at all. So I don't know if he much to do with 99 either, but if he did , then his calling is now!This team needs some major something and if he was behind 99 then get to work Shaw! :tongue:

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

                Originally posted by theodus69
                Well in the years I saw here in so cal, Shaw didn't do much at all. So I don't know if he much to do with 99 either, but if he did , then his calling is now!This team needs some major something and if he was behind 99 then get to work Shaw! :tongue:
                That is pretty much how I remember it. And the bit%^ used to prance on the field like that idiot owner from the 'aints.

                A new DC and a STC that can utilize our better players would be a great start :upset:
                Socrates: Surf to live! and Live to Surf!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: An intervention by Shaw is needed to refocus the Rams

                  Amen to that ! :ramlogo:

                  Comment

                  Related Topics

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                  • RamWraith
                    Shaw must end turmoil, dump Martz quickly
                    by RamWraith
                    By Bernie Miklasz
                    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                    Wednesday, Oct. 26 2005

                    For a newspaper columnist who also hosts a radio show, the intensifying
                    friction between Rams President John Shaw and exiled head coach Mike Martz is
                    valuable sports-talk gold.

                    A quick review: Shaw blocked the ailing Martz from phoning assistant coach
                    Steve Fairchild during Sunday's game with New Orleans. Monday afternoon, Martz
                    withdrew from coaching for the rest of the season to help expedite his recovery
                    from a bacterial infection of a heart valve. Martz vowed to return in 2006, but
                    Shaw would not guarantee Martz's job security.

                    Tuesday morning, in a remarkably candid interview on my KSLG (1380 AM) talk
                    show, Martz criticized Rams management on a number of fronts. He said his Rams
                    bosses had broken numerous promises to him, including an agreement to allow
                    Martz to set up a pro personnel department. Martz said he wasn't sure if he
                    could continue to work with his nemesis - Jay Zygmunt, the president of
                    football operations. Martz said he was angry over his intercepted call to
                    Fairchild. Martz said he'd been reassured by Rams owner Georgia Frontiere that
                    he'd be her last coach, and that he could stay in the job for as long as he
                    wanted.

                    Later Tuesday, Shaw counterpunched in an interview with Post-Dispatch football
                    writer Jim Thomas. Shaw made it clear that he wouldn't budge if Martz tried to
                    dictate terms of future employment, including "who's remaining in the front
                    office. Who stays with the organization or doesn't stay with the organization."

                    Translation: Shaw isn't about to dump Zygmunt to appease Martz.

                    And concerning a contract extension for Martz, Shaw said, "In my mind, we need
                    to address the issue as to whether we would even offer an extension to a head
                    coach who hasn't coached here this year."

                    Wow. The Rams will hold Martz's illness against him?

                    Again, this is great material for columns and talk shows. But our selfish
                    interests aside, the attacks and counterattacks are making both sides look bad.

                    Martz is finished as the Rams' head coach. So let's end the pretense.

                    What Martz wants, Shaw won't give. And Shaw is the boss. Shaw has fired coaches
                    before, and he probably will fire coaches again. Period. End of discussion. End
                    of an era.

                    The franchise's image and reputation already are tarnished by this soap opera.
                    And the public feuding will only worsen the damage.

                    If Shaw fires Martz now, surely there will be some nasty publicity. But Martz
                    has been showing plenty of fighting spirit lately, so it's not as if he's
                    hooked up to tubes in a hospital bed. It's not as if Shaw...
                    -10-28-2005, 06:01 AM
                  • RamDez
                    Shaw tries to control fire at Rams Park
                    by RamDez
                    Shaw tries to control fire at Rams Park
                    By Bernie Miklasz
                    St. Louis Post-Dispatch
                    Saturday, Sep. 17 2005

                    This week Rams coach Mike Martz was asked about coping with the extreme heat
                    his team will encounter in Arizona while playing the Cardinals in the sauna
                    known as Sun Devil Stadium.

                    Game-time temperatures might reach 100 degrees, but that's a summer breeze to
                    Martz when compared to the heat surrounding his team in St. Louis. If the Rams
                    lose to the Cardinals, Martz will return to an inferno. After the stumble in
                    the opener at San Francisco, the Rams already are locked into early-season
                    crisis mode.

                    The defeat in San Francisco prompted hysterical, hateful reactions on St. Louis
                    talk-radio shows and Internet boards. And if there's a subsequent loss to the
                    Cardinals, Bill Bidwill and Kurt Warner, we may see angry, torch-carrying mobs
                    of fans form under Martz's office window at Rams Park.

                    OK, probably not ... but an 0-2 start will cause Martz's approval rating to
                    plummet again.

                    The controversial Martz can deal with external pressure, which is normal for
                    him or any other NFL head coach. But Martz has been far more rattled by foes
                    inside the building. The enemies within usually cause more hurt, more damage,
                    with their betrayal. It's always more demoralizing when the people who are paid
                    to work with you instead work against you, and that's what has happened to
                    Martz. With so much turmoil around him, it's a wonder Martz can concentrate on
                    coaching.

                    The tension at Rams Park finally bubbled over, leading to an intervention by
                    team president John Shaw, who threatens to fire any team executive attempting
                    to undercut Martz.

                    "I've talked to everyone in our front office, and they've been warned," Shaw
                    said. "They'd better do everything they can to help our coach win. And if they
                    don't support our coach, then they're not going to be here. It's a simple
                    message. And they'd better get it, or they'll be gone."

                    Shaw wasn't finished.

                    "I have personally delivered that message to each and every one of them," he
                    said. "They'd better make the commitment to support Mike 100 percent, because
                    that's our mission. That's what our owners do. We're fully behind Mike. And I'm
                    not going to accept anything less from any of them."

                    And with Shaw in his corner, Martz has some heavyweight reinforcement in the
                    skirmish with those who ganged up on him.

                    The flashpoint occurred when Rams director of football administration Samir
                    Suleiman called a Post-Dispatch columnist to leave a threatening message in
                    response to a column that called for Rams executives to back the Rams coach
                    instead...
                    -09-18-2005, 07:35 AM
                  • RamWraith
                    Just say it now, Shaw: Martz is out
                    by RamWraith
                    By Bryan Burwell
                    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                    Thursday, Dec. 01 2005

                    As we close in on the final episodes of this zany, 16-week Rams Park soap
                    opera, who didn't think the best stuff was behind us?

                    Well, actually, none of us.

                    No matter how far Mike Martz removed himself from the scene, or how obvious it
                    was that John Shaw already has put into motion the blueprints for a radical
                    regime change, you knew it couldn't be that easy. Life at Rams Park
                    does this to you. It leaves you with a nervous twitch and lump in your throat,
                    like you're watching some cliff-hanging whodunit. So even with Martz
                    vacationing in San Diego, his office cleaned out of all his belongings and
                    management leaking out names of his replacements all over the place, we all
                    knew there had to be at least one more plot twist that would pack the shock
                    value of "Who Shot J.R.?"

                    It makes you appreciate the audacity of Martz's agent, Bob LaMonte, who in an
                    amazing coincidence said that his client was ready to return to work one day
                    after Steve Mariucci was fired in Detroit, and just after the Rams OK'd a pay
                    raise for Joe Vitt to finish out the season as Martz's interim replacement.

                    The truth is better than fiction. The truth is LaMonte wants the Rams to
                    accelerate their firing process so that he can get his client in the front of
                    the line for all the coaching vacancies that will be opening over the next few
                    weeks. He also wants to get the word out that Martz is healthy and ready to
                    take on the rigors of being an NFL head coach again. What better way to do it
                    than to stir up a little buzz on the pro football gossip mill?

                    But back on the home front, Rams president John Shaw was not terribly tickled
                    by LaMonte's power move. Even while Shaw was telling us that the only thing the
                    organization is concerned with is Martz's health, we all know that someone in
                    the Rams organization has been sprinkling names of potential replacements for
                    Martz's job all over the media.

                    So nothing ever changes around here. This is how it goes with the turbulent
                    relationship between Rams officials and Martz. Both sides take pot shots at the
                    other, and in the end they all look bad and suspicious.

                    But this embarrassing little tit-for-tat tap dance could be over quickly if
                    Shaw would quit dancing around the obvious and just say what we all know is
                    true.

                    Martz isn't coming back.

                    On my radio show earlier this week, Shaw repeatedly avoided direct answers to
                    questions about Martz's job status, trying to leave some phony welcome mat
                    spread out in front of Rams Park. "The answer is we don't know now, and I will
                    give you some of the...
                    -12-02-2005, 06:43 AM
                  • RamWraith
                    Martz makes sharp moves, fakes out Shaw
                    by RamWraith
                    By Bernie Miklasz
                    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                    Monday, Oct. 24 2005

                    Monday at Rams Park, Mike Martz came to say goodbye. And he did so with grace,
                    class and a touch of self-deprecating humor.

                    Martz did the right thing. He's supposed to be on medical leave, but Martz has
                    called assistant coaches, phoned in plays and dropped in on the players (at
                    least once) for a visit. Martz is making healthy progress in his recovery from
                    a bacterial infection of a heart valve, but realized he risked a medical
                    setback by continuing to dabble in coaching.

                    This mature self-awareness - to put his health first, once and for all - will
                    undoubtedly please Mike's devoted wife, Julie.

                    Moreover, Martz was sensitive to the potential discomfort of crowding interim
                    head coach Joe Vitt and offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild. Martz is proud
                    of the job they've done in his absence and doesn't want to make them feel as
                    though he's peering over their clipboards.

                    Martz added that he felt guilty at first for bailing on his staff and players.
                    But now he's satisfied to conclude that the Rams are in good hands.

                    "This is Joe Vitt's team now," Martz said.

                    Later Martz joked, "They're going to be fine without me and it makes me mad."

                    At times Monday, Martz sounded like a coach who showed up to announce his
                    permanent resignation.

                    Actually, I believe we've seen the last of Martz as the head coach of the Rams
                    - and not just for the final weeks of 2005, either. He's done, he knows it, and
                    he's just not ready to declare it.

                    Before we cover Martz entirely in get-well-soon flowers, we have to acknowledge
                    that he made a smooth move Monday. Martz was cheerful throughout his news
                    conference, but make no mistake about it, his smiling teeth were sharp.

                    Martz didn't exactly back team president John Shaw into a corner, but he
                    finessed his boss into playing some "Cover 2" defense.

                    It was Martz's best play-calling moment of the season.

                    Martz announced his intentions to return as head coach in 2006.

                    Which means the Rams will have to fire Martz if they want him out.

                    Your move, Mr. Shaw.

                    Accordingly, reporters put Shaw through an aggressive line of questioning:
                    Would Martz, if healthy, be the head coach in 2006?

                    No matter how pleasant the spin, Shaw wouldn't come out and state definitively
                    that Martz would be the Rams' head coach in 2006. Shaw hedged.

                    So here we have it: the chipper and optimistic Martz, vowing to make a
                    comeback, and his boss declining to offer that coach 100 percent assurances.

                    The wishy-washy support followed Sunday's...
                    -10-25-2005, 06:01 AM
                  • RamWraith
                    Petty bickering need not be in the future at Rams Park
                    by RamWraith
                    BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
                    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

                    ST. LOUIS - Rams president John Shaw is busy interviewing head- coaching candidates, and we presume that potential coaches are interviewing Shaw as well. Any coach considering a job with the Rams probably has as many questions for Shaw as he has for the coach.

                    The Rams' reputation took a bruising during the open feud between deposed head coach Mike Martz and front-office executives, and there is damage to repair.

                    How are the Rams being portrayed? Len Pasquarelli on ESPN.com wrote: "This has been a dysfunctional franchise, one fraught with infighting and influence-peddling and internecine bickering, and with considerable palace intrigue. There is a sense that everyone has his own agenda, that the various departments rarely work in concert, and that things are frayed at the seams."

                    That theme is being sounded by other NFL pundits. Rams Park sounds like a scary place to work, and that could chase off attractive coaching candidates.

                    Obviously, the Rams have been dysfunctional for a while; I've written about the situation many times. But I also believe it's important to understand why the Rams failed to function smoothly, and what can be done to correct it.

                    It isn't a hopeless situation. More than anything, the conniving and the chaos resulted from the ugly deterioration of the once-strong bond between Martz and director of football operations Jay Zygmunt.

                    In revising the executive branch following Dick Vermeil's retirement, Shaw set up a checks-and-balances system with his key employees: Martz, Zygmunt and general manager Charley Armey.

                    Martz was granted considerable authority over personnel matters, but he could be vetoed by Shaw, or, by extension, Zygmunt. When Martz and Zygmunt got along, there was no real disharmony. Armey felt left out in the Martz-Zygmunt alliance, but Armey retained a valuable presence in scouting. The Rams made personnel mistakes, but the errors had nothing to do with front-office feuding.

                    The real dysfunction set in once the Martz-Zygmunt friendship began dissolving following the Rams' upset loss to New England in the Super Bowl. And Shaw by his own admission wasn't a very good referee in the Martz-Zygmunt sparring. He let it go too far, and the relationship couldn't be saved.

                    While the internal problems were serious in the final two or three seasons of the Martz regime, we should recognize the root cause. If Martz and Zygmunt had stayed on good terms, then none of us would be writing about the mess in the Rams' front office.

                    These days it's fashionable to criticize the Shaw-Zygmunt axis. I've done some of that myself. But it's funny to go back and read what was being said about Shaw and Zygmunt and their system before the coach and execs soured on each other.

                    In 2002, Ira Miller of the San...
                    -01-08-2006, 05:46 AM
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