Martz gets defensive about calls on offense

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The St. Louis coach took on his critics at Monday's news conference.

By R.B. Fallstrom ~ The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Win or lose, Mike Martz is doing it his way.

The St. Louis Rams' coach was defiant Monday, in the face of persistent questions about his heavy reliance on the pass, that his air-first philosophy will work. He defended his 54-15 pass-run ratio in a 28-25 overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints, like it or lump it.

"Look, you can find another coach then," Martz said. "We're going to play fast and furious, that's what we do, and we're going to run it because we want to run it, not because somebody feels like we've got to be balanced.

"That's just the way it is: get used to it."

Martz pointed out that the Rams' go-ahead touchdown, a 19-yard scramble by Marc Bulger with 28 seconds to go in regulation, came while the team was in pass mode. The nine-play drive that began with 1:48 remaining was all pass. And the Rams were successful at the start of the game while calling 11 pass plays and one run, scoring one touchdown and driving deep into New Orleans territory before Bulger fumbled on a scramble.

So don't talk to him about balance.

"You want to sit in that meeting room with me and look at tape with me all year long, then we'll discuss it," Martz said.

The passing game isn't what got the Rams beat. The culprit was a soft defense perhaps still adjusting to new coordinator Larry Marmie, and to injuries at cornerback and linebacker.

The Rams allowed points on five consecutive possessions at one stage of the game, and put up little resistance on both the drive that forced overtime and the Saints' winning march. Twenty-four seconds were two more than the Saints needed to tie it after getting possession at their own 42 following a botched squib kick, and the Saints needed only six plays to move 54 yards to set up John Carney's game-winning 31-yard field goal in overtime.

St. Louis has been particularly vulnerable against the run, allowing big games to aging Emmitt Smith, Michael Vick and now unsung Aaron Stecker, who had a career-best 106 yards in a fill-in role for the injured Deuce McAllister.

The end result is that just like last season, the Rams are 1-2. But also like last season, when they finished 12-4 and won the NFC West, they're counting on recovering from the sub-par start.

"No one in this locker room is going to give up," Bulger said. "It will be tough, but we just have to get it going."

Martz is just as confident, even though the Rams' next two games are on the road at San Francisco and Seattle.

"I do believe we're going to be fine," Martz said. "It's just not going to happen overnight, obviously, but we're going to end up being a pretty good team."

Other problem areas have been penalties, especially on special teams, and turnovers. The Rams had 12 penalties for 85 yards against the Saints, including five false starts and four on special teams. Orlando Pace had two of the false starts.

"That's absolutely unacceptable," Martz said. "The discipline-type of things have got to be eliminated."

And, after leading the NFL with 46 takeaways last year, after three games this year they're the only team in the league that has not created a single turnover. Every other team has at least two.

"It's frustrating because it is part of our identity and that is something that we took a lot of pride in last year," strong safety Adam Archuleta said. "I don't know exactly why, or why not, it's happening but we need to figure it out."

On offense, the bright spots have been Bulger and Bruce, who leads the NFL in catches (25) and yards (348). In the backfield, Martz thus far has been unwilling to fully integrate first-round pick Steven Jackson, who had only two carries for 15 yards against the Saints as Marshall Faulk's backup.

"We want to spell Marshall and we didn't do that as much as we would have liked to, looking back in hindsight," Martz said. "We absolutely want to get him more involved, no question."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: