Martz - 'I would never resign from this job'

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

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 a tough dude, physically and mentally."

For now, Chandler remains on the roster.

"I got very upset with him during the game," Martz said. "He made some errors early that I was upset about, and I regret being that upset with him."

Chandler's sorry stint as the starter has enforced in Martz' mind how good Bulger is and how the last two losses might have been averted.

"It's all the difference in the world," Martz said. "I think he's one of the elite in the league, and I've been saying that for a long time. Now that he was out of the picture, I think everybody can appreciate how good he really is and how stymied we become in a lot of areas without him in there."

Despite their problems, the Rams remain in the playoff hunt. They're one game behind the also disappointing Seahawks (7-7) in the NFC West but own the tiebreaker.

"It's kind of neat, actually," Martz said. "I wouldn't say it was crazy. That's how you have to look at it; we've got to forge ahead."

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