Many observers are starting to write off Mike Martz for 2006 after he and John Shaw spoke on Monday. Not so fast Mike tells me. On Wednesday, Mike told me on the record that his goal is to return in 2006 and that his agent is talking with John Shaw about a resolution not a departure. Martz admits he has issues with Team President Jay Zygmunt but says those issues can be resolved. Martz goes on to say that those problems aren't unique to the Rams. They exist in other organizations as well. Maybe so, but it has become a real crisis at Rams Park and some serious concessions are going to have to be made for this to work out.
The guy who is caught in the middle is Joe Vitt. So far, he and the other coaches have done a nice job keeping the players focused. But, here's a dose of reality --- the Jacksonville Jaguars are a lot better football team than the Saints, especially defensively. The best thing Vitt did prior to the Saints game was hammer home the need to win the turnover battle. Since 1999, the Rams are almost unbeatable with a positive turnover margin at the Edward Jones Dome: they win almost 95 percent of the time.
If the Rams are going to have any success running the ball this week, I would expect it to come off tackle. The Jags have two big nasty space eaters at defensive tackle Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. Having rookie guard Claude Terrell healthy will be important. His play has helped the running game although he still has some work to do in pass protection. He suffered a sprained neck versus the Saints.
Very encouraging to see second round pick Ron Bartell contribute. He was challenged last week and he responded. He's still raw but given the problems in the secondary this year the Rams may have made a mistake not activating him sooner.
A win this week gets the Rams to .500 and then they'll get Marc Bulger, Issac Bruce and possibly Tory Holt back after the bye. 4-4 will give the Rams a legit shot to battle for the NFC West and a playoff berth. 3-5 may be too steep a hole given the schedule in the second half.