Mad Martz, Part I

"There are a lot of things going on, and they are certainly fixable. We felt like early in the year we may struggle in certain areas until guys come along a little bit. I think we got better this week than we were the week before. We just need to clean some things up, some miscues that we've had, correct them and move on." --- Rams coach Mike Martz

Q: Considering the long rivalry between these two teams, is the luster of this game missing somewhat because of where both teams are in the standings?

Martz: Well, we've only played three games. I don't think the standings have anything to do with it at this point. At the end of the year maybe if the teams are playing poorly, that might have something to do with it. I think there is a lot of season left and anything can happen obviously. Both teams are getting better and we've had some struggles early. But no, that doesn't diminish anything between the rivalry between the Niners and the Rams, and also the fact that it is a divisional game.

Q: Why do the Rams seem to be struggling?

Martz: There are a lot of things going on, and they are certainly fixable. We felt like early in the year we may struggle in certain areas until guys come along a little bit. I think we got better this week than we were the week before. We just need to clean some things up, some miscues that we've had, correct them and move on.

Q: You started 0-3 in 2002. What did it take to revamp?

Martz: "I think that was an entirely different situation. There was probably a little bit of a hangover from the loss in the Super Bowl. There were a lot of factors involved injury-wise with the quarterback and defensively. There were a lot of things that were a little bit different from right now. We got a much younger football team that is kind of learning how to play. So, there is not a whole lot of correlation between the two other than we got some guys back and the leadership of that team finally took a stand and we got going. Obviously, Marc Bulger coming to the forefront there and actually was really undefeated in all of his starts. So, he was a major factor for getting that thing turned around as well.

Q: Were you taken by surprise the last time you played in San Francisco because you had not seen Tim Rattay play before?

Martz: Not really. Obviously, and we say this all of the time, anybody that is in a backup role, the quarterback, receiver, DB, whatever, they are there because you believe in them and they are good players. So, we didn't take that for granted certainly. We just did not play well. We got behind early, they staggered us a little bit and we just couldn't rebound from the opening kickoff. We were able to come back after that game and play pretty well, but no, it had nothing to do with not believing that he was going to be a good player that could play well.

Q: Defensively, how much do you miss Grant Wistrom and Lovie Smith?

Martz: Obviously, Grant is a terrific player and it took some time for him to establish himself at that position. We're going through that process right now. I think the correlation between Lovie and Larry is pretty significant, in terms of being alike. I think that there is a little bit of a different take on our defense. But, we're in transition and we've got some corners out and some linebackers down. I feel very confident that our defense will play well. There is no question about it.

Q: You get some criticism about your run-pass ratio. Do your critics have a good argument?

Martz: I don't know. That would be up for you to decide, I guess. I don't know what to tell you about that. Obviously, if I believed that, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing.

Q: Are you surprised by criticism?

Martz: Well, I think every game is different. We've tried to take a pragmatic approach to it. Sometimes, if you get on a roll throwing the ball, you don't get off it just because you want to be balanced. That was a very explosive offense that we were playing last week and we knew that they could move the ball and have potential to make big plays. We just felt like we had to go in that direction for a lot of reasons. But, I think whatever works. If you are running the ball exceptionally well and you can hang in there with it and mix it in there, that is fine. What I didn't want to do was go into that football cha-cha, one-two-three kick. The first and second and tens, and the third and eights, we just couldn't get into any rhythm running the ball at times. I wanted to come out in that game and really take advantage of some things and push the ball downfield, which we did and tried to get them on the their heels. That changes every week. It's kind of what I believe in. You want to take control of the game and put pressure on the defense as much as you can. Sometimes it is throwing the ball and sometimes it is formation and running the ball. Whatever works is based on the structure and personnel matchups. You spend a lot of time in here trying to figure those things out. But, this is a different town. If we'd won that game, I'm sure nothing would be said. That is just the way it is. It's life and you just have to deal with it.

Q: Do you make that decision going into a game or during the game based on the flow of the game?

Martz: A little bit of both. We were doing so well throwing the football. We wanted to move those chains and get a score. If you can't get a score, at least get the ball in great field position for your defense. That was the best way of doing that in my opinion. Sometimes, that changes and sometimes you stay with it. You get hot and you're throwing the ball and you're protecting the quarterback, you would like to stay with it. It puts a lot of pressure on that defense.


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