Martz has Rams in spin cycle


October 13, 2002|By Ken Murray

St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz pulled a nifty reverse last week that would make even All-Pro running back Marshall Faulk envious if he weren't so wrapped up in the team's losing streak.

In the aftermath of a 37-13 shellacking at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers, Martz questioned the Rams' effort and, in effect, heart. "I can honestly say the effort wasn't there," he said during his postmortem.

By Monday, the Rams' 0-5 record notwithstanding, Martz saw a different world on his game tape.

"I don't question the effort," he said. "Any time you get that many points scored on you, you're standing on the sideline and you're trying to figure out what in the world [is wrong]. But after looking at the tape, I don't question their effort. I thought on both sides of the ball they played hard. ... We're not playing well, but we're playing hard."

If the Rams were playing hard, how did their defense get trampled for 565 offensive yards by the 49ers, most in the league this season? If they were playing hard, how did the 49ers score on six of their first seven possessions?

And if they were playing hard, how could cornerback Aeneas Williams make the following observation? "I can't tell you too many times where we actually hit somebody with hard blows or something like that," said Williams, who was inactive and on the sideline because of turf toe.

The Rams did generate an 81-yard touchdown drive in the game's final five minutes, but there was no excusing a defensive effort in which missed tackles and blown coverages were prominent.

Things could get worse before they get better. The Rams, who haven't faced a top-10 offense yet this season, get the Oakland Raiders' No. 1 offense today. They also have quarterback Marc Bulger, who has never taken a snap in the NFL when it counted, replacing Jamie Martin, who replaced Kurt Warner.

Martz's about-face? Spin-doctoring at its finest. But it's almost certainly too late to save this ship. Maybe that's why Faulk walked out in the middle of an HBO interview with Bob Costas last week.

Trouble in River City

Tension is high in Tennessee, too. After the 1-4 Titans were dismantled by the Washington Redskins, owner Bud Adams issued some vague but ominous comments about coach Jeff Fisher.

"I'm very disappointed," Adams told a reporter from The Tennessean. "I came in here thinking we were going to get a win and we didn't look very good. Right now, I'm not very happy with what we're putting on the field, and it looks to me like we're getting out-coached."

Asked if he wanted to make immediate changes to the coaching staff, he backed off only slightly.

"Oh, no. Not like that, not right now," he said. "We're just not the team we thought we were going to be in training camp. We don't look very good and I don't like it at all."

Along with Fisher, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, a Baltimore native, is taking the most heat for the Titans' No. 27 defense.

Moss' contract

Wide receiver Randy Moss' eight-year, $75 million contract includes a clause that allows the Minnesota Vikings to recover part of his $18 million signing bonus if he is suspended for conduct detrimental to the team or for substance abuse reasons. And he has a diminishing margin for error.

Moss has been charged with five misdemeanors from a Sept. 24 traffic incident in Minneapolis, including a petty misdemeanor drug possession. He could be suspended by the NFL, in accordance with the league's personal conduct policy, if he is convicted on the drug charge. He could also be suspended for four games if he tests positive in a future drug test.

The language is not part of the standard NFL player contract, but many teams include a similar clause in nearly every contract that includes a signing bonus.

Bear meat

The Chicago Bears' secondary has been shredded for 921 passing yards and 10 touchdowns in three straight losses to Green Bay's Brett Favre, Buffalo's Drew Bledsoe and New Orleans' Aaron Brooks. The combined numbers are 66-for-98, or 67.3 percent.

The Bears get a bye today, then jump back in the fire against Detroit's Joey Harrington, Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper, Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb and New England's Tom Brady.

Sacked by the crowd

After Cleveland quarterback Tim Couch launched a profanity-laced diatribe at Browns fans for booing him - and cheering his injury - in the 26-21 loss to the Ravens, he received more than 5,000 e-mails, cards and letters from fans who supported him last week.

He was caught by surprise by the booing, but says he learned a lesson.

"I was pretty shaken up, to be honest," Couch said. "I'm a professional. I've got to block stuff like that out. I'll be better next time in that situation. They were getting to me. I can't lie about that."


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