Martz remains positive despite breakdowns against Chargers

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- To the casual fan, the St. Louis Rams' blowout preseason loss to the San Diego Chargers looked a lot like last season, with a spotty defense giving up big plays and big points.

But Rams coach Mike Martz saw plenty to like in Sunday's 36-21 defeat.

"By and large, there are a lot of positives," he said Monday.

San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson scored on a 55-yard run on his only carry. Backup Michael Turner also had a 55-yard run, and the Chargers (1-1) gained 215 yards rushing overall.

Immediately after the game, Martz said the Rams lacked discipline. But after reviewing game film, Martz saw what he called a good effort with a few fixable flaws.

"There are six real bad plays on defense," he said. "There are some other very positive plays."

Martz said some of the defensive problems came as the Rams (1-1) tried some schemes that won't make it to the regular season.

"Some of the stuff we're doing front-wise, we don't like it -- we're going to get away from it," he said.

The Rams went 8-8 last season but made the playoffs as a wild card team despite a rush defense that ranked near the bottom of the NFL. That glaring weakness became evident in the second round of the playoffs when Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons gained a whopping 327 yards in a 47-17 win.

One defensive change will involve moving hard-hitting Adam Archuleta back to strong safety. The fifth-year player spent most of his career there before a back injury forced his move to free safety last season.

"I think he kind of really wants to be back in the action," Martz said.

Offensively, Martz said the Rams finally hit their stride in the second quarter, when Marc Bulger threw touchdown passes of 13 and 41 yards to Kevin Curtis and Torry Holt. Curtis, a third-year receiver, caught another touchdown pass, a 78-yarder from rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick, late in the fourth quarter.

"I think he's on a par with our other two," Martz said, comparing Curtis to Holt and Isaac Bruce. "I think he's a guy on that level."

First-round draft pick Alex Barron, an offensive tackle with just a week of practice after a lengthy holdout, struggled, missing several assignments, Martz said.

Barron has shown focus and physical skills, Martz said, but simply has a lot to learn about the Rams' complicated scheme.

"He's just lost," Martz said. "I'm pleased with him. He's just going to be a project for a while."

The Rams came out of the game with few injuries. Tight end Roland Williams strained a knee on the opening kickoff but continued to play. Results of an MRI were not yet available but Martz said the injury did not appear serious. He expected Williams to return in a week or two.

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