Kit Menkin's Leasing News
www.leasingnews.org Monday, September 9, 2002
Accurate, fair and unbiased news for the equipment Leasing Industry
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Investment Unit Shakeup Comes Amid Probes, Ailing Stock
By Ben White
Washington Post Staff Writer
NEW YORK,-- Facing multiple investigations and a tumbling stock price, Citigroup Inc. replaced the head of its global corporate and investment bank, tapping chief operating officer Charles Prince to take over for Michael Carpenter, who will move to a lower- profile position.
The announcement follows a drop in Citigroup's stock price from a 12-month high of $52.20 to $30.28 as of Friday. It also comes as state, federal and industry investigators probe how the firm's brokerage and investment banking unit, Salomon Smith Barney Inc., operated during the late-1990s boom in technology and telecommunications stocks.
Citigroup, the nation's largest financial institution, has also been in talks with the Federal Trade Commission to settle a probe into alleged predatory lending practices. Investigators also have been looking into loans the bank made to Enron Corp.
In an interview today, Citigroup chief executive Sanford I. Weill acknowledged the toll the multiple probes have taken on his firm. "The investigations have had a very big impact on the morale of our 270,000 workers and on our shareholders and I think that it is incredibly important that we understand all the issues and become a leader in making changes," he said.
Prince, 52, said he envisioned making significant alterations to the way the investment bank operates. "The whole industry needs to change," he said. "Mike Carpenter has already made some very important changes and we are going to be leaders in making more." Carpenter will become head of Citigroup's global proprietary investment group, which manages about $100 billion in assets.
The investigations at Citigroup are on a number of fronts. Congress and the New York State attorney general's office have been looking into whether former Salomon Smith Barney telecom analyst Jack Grubman wrote overly positive reports on troubled firms to generate investment banking business for Salomon during the boom years, possibly misleading investors. Grubman was quietly pushed out of the firm last month, leaving with a severance package worth more than $30 million.
The House Financial Services Committee last month released documents showing that Salomon awarded hard-to-get initial public offering shares to Bernard Ebbers, helping the former WorldCom Inc. chief executive make $11 million in profit. Salomon officials have said the shares were awarded because Ebbers was a good brokerage client, not because of the millions in investment banking fees WorldCom paid the firm.
Citigroup's board approved the management shake-up today.
In addition to the probes, Citigroup is the target of multiple lawsuits. All the bad news led Prudential Securities analyst Michael Mayo last week to urge investors to dump Citigroup shares, leading to a major sell-off.
Nonetheless, Robert Rubin, the Clinton administration Treasury secretary who is now a Citigroup director, said the firm was well positioned.
"This business model and the way it has been executed . . . has been very successful," Rubin said, while acknowledging "individual, specific instance of activities that are not the way business should be done. . . . There are industry practices that are changing and should change," he said. Officials in the New York attorney general's office and the House Financial Services Committee could not be reached for comment tonight.
October 5, 2002 San Diego United Association of Equipment Leasing
Annual Conference and Exhibition "Top Gun"
Leasing News will present two workshops
9:45am "Top Gun Salespeople"
11:00am “Tom Gun “ Sales Managers
“Top Gun” Salesmen continually earn over $250,000 a year, according to
their W2. Get a clear picture of how they got started, what
propels them each step of the way to becoming a "partner" and
also earning the profits and net worth of the company. What makes
them different, how do they approach sales, none have appeared
in a conference workshop before.
I don't quite fit that profile. I started with Pacifica Capital 15 years
ago. My relationship with Bette Kerhoulas (founder and CEO ) prior to that was as an equipment vendor. Previously, I was a regional manager for a telephone equipment sales company. Bette handled all my leasing opportunities and serviced our company well.
As our business relationship grew Bette asked me if I would be interested in
investing in her company and becoming a Partner. At that time I was the top
producer in leases generated for my company which generated over 30mm in
sales, a high percentage of which went to leasing. I saw this as a great
opportunity and made the commitment. So my entrance into this industry as
an owner started immediately and without any real experience in equipment
My income has been determined through commissions, residuals and through
profit sharing. My commission split has always been 50% of the revenue I
produce and 45% of any income generated through residuals I directly book.
Profit sharing is the icing on the cake. Pacifica Capital has always been
profitable and I have certainly benefited from its performance.
Harold Noriega, also a partner of Pacifica Capital, and I combined have
consistently produced over 1mm in fee income alone for several years. Our
primary responsibilities are in sales generation and the management and
support of the sales team.
I hope this helps you with my personal profile and how I generate income.
Let me know if you have any questions. Also please forward me any outline
as to how this session will proceed. Thanks again.
a past edition of the Miami Herald sent in by a reader.
Investors, insurers battle over bills
CMC bankruptcy case becomes a liquidation
BY PATRICK DANNER
Some creditors in one of the largest bankruptcy cases ever filed in South Florida claim they are the victims of a massive Ponzi scheme.
With claims of more than $400 million, though, creditors in the case aren't unsophisticated investors or retirees who gambled their life savings. Rather, they're insurance and surety companies.
They all bet on Commercial Money Center (CMC), a company founded in 1997 in Las Vegas to originate commercial equipment leases and consumer auto leases. The leases went to companies or individuals with poor credit who were willing to pay high interest rates, according Bradley S. Shraiberg, the company's Boca Raton lawyer.
The company generated hundreds of millions of dollars by pooling the leases and selling the income stream to investors, typically banks and other financial institutions. To lure those investors, CMC purchased insurance policies or surety bonds so that in the event lessees didn't make payments, the investors would still be paid.
For reasons that are in dispute, CMC's business has unraveled. The company, which once employed more than 100 people, now says it has only four or five working out of a suite in a Tampa office building. Whether the company is still in business is questioned by some.
CMC filed for reorganization on May 30 in U.S Bankruptcy Court in Fort Lauderdale. But with no prospects for CMC emerging from bankruptcy, Judge Raymond Ray on Thursday converted the case to a liquidation.
The investors and insurance companies, meanwhile, are battling over who should be on the hook for the unpaid leases.
The insurers allege that many of the leases were bogus -- set up with shell companies or with individuals whose signatures were forged.
''This case is a massive fraud, a Ponzi scheme of epic proportions,'' said Miami bankruptcy lawyer Howard Berlin, who represents Illinois Union, an insurer that issued bonds that total upward of a $100 million. Other insurers and the amount of the bonds they issued are: Royal Indemnity, $106 million; Safeco, $100 million; RLI Insurance, $54 million; and American Motorists, $44 million.
Some of the investors counter that the insurance companies are just trying to wiggle out of paying claims to the investors.
''From our point of view, the sureties are using the excuse that some of the underlying leases are fraudulent in order to avoid their clear contractual obligation to pay up if the leases go into default, which they have,'' said Louis Mrachek, a West Palm Beach lawyer who represents Cleveland-based Guardian Capital LLC, an investor that claims it's owed $75 million.
Altogether, about 15 financial institutions invested in the CMC lease portfolios. Other large investors include Atlanta-based NetBank, which calls itself the world's largest Internet bank and says it's owed $84 million, and General Electric Capital Corp. Just how much GE Capital is owed couldn't be determined.
CMC denies charges that it was a sham company set up to defraud.
''It's absolutely not true,'' Shraiberg said after Thursday's bankruptcy hearing. ``It's Commercial Money Center's contention that it has performed pursuant to the sales and servicing agreement with each surety and each investor.''
In court, Shraiberg said CMC operated successfully until August 2000 when a South Florida company defaulted on a $30 million lease.
That had a downward ''spiraling effect,'' he said. The company couldn't be located for comment.
CMC absorbed a monthly shortfall of $1.4 million through its cash resources until January of this year. Unable to continue paying the deficit out of its own coffers, CMC filed claims with its insurance companies, Shraiberg added. However, they have refused to pay, he added, even though over $25 million in premiums have been paid to the insurers.
CMC has filed lawsuits against each of the five insurers.
RLI Insurance, which issued surety bonds totaling $54 million, counters that through its own investigation it discovered many of the leases were fraudulent or fictitious. CMC leased everything from medical equipment to dairy cows, according to one person.
RLI sued CMC in federal court in Southern California, where CMC had operations. The investor banks were later added to the suit in an attempt to have the bonds declared void, which would get the insurer off the hook.
In court Thursday, Russell S. Bogue III, the Atlanta lawyer representing RLI, claimed CMC filed bankruptcy in Fort Lauderdale to avoid the rulings of the federal court in California. Shraiberg said CMC filed in South Florida because to be close to the party that had defaulted on the $30 million lease.
Robert A. Angueira, assistant U.S. Trustee, urged the bankruptcy judge to send the case back to California. ``They're using the system . . . to avoid what is going on in California.''
Angueira didn't think too highly of CMC, saying its principals ''appear to be thieves'' who ``probably have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars in a scam.''
Ray, the bankruptcy judge, has set a hearing for July 8 to determine where CMC's liquidation should be overseen.
Tuesday, September 10th, 2002
2513 South Stemmons Freeway
(NW Corner of 121 Bypass & 1-35 by Vista Ridge Mall)
Take Part in Planning Local Activities for 2003
Your Input Counts!
Time: 11:30 am to 1:30 pm
Cost: Non-Hosted Luncheon
It’s Not Too Late---Call:
It appears the Thursday September 5th Bankruptcy Chapter 7 hearing was a free-for-all as the ex-employees with over $193,000 in labor dispute awards, who are now creditors, also appeared with allegations of perjury, fraud, and conversion. Leasing News had been reporting about the “Advance Rental” checks not be returning ( the reason MSM Capital made the bulletin board) and there is an issue over one million dollars in kept deposit checks, which may be liabilities on the balance sheet, but spend by the corporation. There was a charge that the computer
the former president was using at MSM Capital are now being used
at his new company.
May 23,2002 Bulletin Board Posting
( some advance rental checks went back over a year not being refunded )
MSM Capital Stores
Professor Marc Lampe's business ethics course always
begins at the same point.
Lampe, who teaches at the University of San Diego's business school, tells his students that the back door of an armored truck has just flown open, dumping money into the street in front of them.
The truck driver continues down the street, oblivious to this. Bystanders are picking up cash out of the street. There is not a police officer in sight.
"What would you do?" Lampe asks. "What should you do?"
He says he is surprised that a majority of students will invariably report they would take the cash.
"It goes beyond that," Lampe says. "Some of them find ways of justifying why they should be able to keep the money."
There is no indictment of the business community in this. Businesspeople act just like third-grade teachers, government patent office clerks, X-ray technicians or anyone else. This is simply the way our society is.
Lampe, a lawyer with a master's degree in business administration, thinks most Americans have skillfully found ways of making themselves comfortable with wide ethical latitudes.
"There are rationalizations we use to feel comfortable with our ethical choices," he says. "Not only do we have devices that allow us to take the money from the armored truck, but we have ways of making ourselves feel good about it, too."
Maybe we feel that a bank has ripped us off and we deserve that money. Maybe we feel that since we don't know whose money it is, it doesn't matter that we take it. Maybe our imaginations run wild with reasons to keep it.
Lampe actually teaches rationalizations to his students. He thinks he can make a bigger impact by addressing core ethics and the values behind them than in tackling more sophisticated ethical dilemmas or quandaries.
"I want to keep it basic because I want people to see what they do in their own lives," he says.
Here are some common rationalizations that come from the Josephson Institute of Ethics in Los Angeles. Each of us probably can find our behavior somewhere within them. Try them on yourself:
I'm just fighting fire with fire. This is based on the false assumption that deceit, lying and breaking promises are justified if others are doing the same thing.
It doesn't hurt anyone. This is used to excuse misconduct, treating ethics as one factor in decision-making, rather than ground rules.
Everyone's doing it. This is the "safety in numbers" rationale. Cultural or organizational behaviors become ethical norms just because they are norms.
I've got it coming. Those who feel overworked or underpaid use this to justify taking favors or gratuities as fair compensation.
There are other rationalizations out there, but this small sampling demonstrates how easy it can be to subvert ethical behavior in business.
"My hope is that if I teach this, some day a student will see this behavior and understand it," Lampe says. "I hope it will ring a bell with them and maybe cause them to act ethically."
Day in and day out, few of us really think about our behavior from an ethical standpoint. But maybe we need to use a little closer scrutiny from time to time.
Recent events surrounding Enron, WorldCom and a dozen other major corporations have illuminated the behavior of executives at the higher ends of business.
If every worker acted the way those executives have, we would see chaos in our business world. Rules would soon mean nothing and no one could be trusted. Ultimately, our economic system would collapse.
That's why Lampe's work is so important. He is calling our attention to how we think and act.
New York Times
By GERALDINE FABRIKANT and DAVID CAY JOHNSTON
n the wake of documents that detail the long list of living expenses General Electric paid for John F. Welch Jr., its former chief, some corporate governance experts are asking why G.E. did not more fully disclose the information and who should pay the taxes on all these benefits.
The benefits were detailed in divorce papers that Mr. Welch's estranged wife, Jane Beasley Welch, filed in Superior Court in Bridgeport, Conn., on Thursday. They include a list of corporate perks including lifetime use of a palatial Manhattan apartment complete with wine, flowers, cook, housekeeper and other amenities, as well as access to General Electric's Boeing 737 jets, helicopters and a car and driver for Mr. Welch and his wife. Also included were tickets for the couple at a number of top sporting events and the opera.
What has bothered some experts is how little G.E.
has said about the breadth of the benefits.
"I don't think the amount of disclosure really explained to the investment community the magnitude of what was being given to the retired C.E.O.," said Jay W. Lorsch, a professor at the Harvard Business School and an expert in corporate governance.
"The other question here is how many of these retirement expenses, such as the apartment in New York, are legitimate expenses that G.E. should even be willing to pay," Professor Lorsch said. "Jack Welch got paid for doing a great job. Why should he get paid twice?"
Nell Minow, editor of The Corporate Library, a corporate watchdog group, believes investors might have been more alert to how indulgent the corporate culture was at G.E. if they had looked more carefully at the company's compensation committee, which, she feels, did not have the independence it needed to say no to Mr. Welch.
Public filings state that two members of the committee, Sam Nunn and Roger Penske, "had business dealings with G.E.," Ms. Minow noted. "And another member, Andrew Sigler, when he was chief executive of Champion International, was widely criticized by shareholders for not relating his pay to the company's performance."
In a statement on Friday, the compensation committee said that a publicly filed 1996 employment agreement to keep Mr. Welch until 2000 agreed to give him lifetime access to "planes, cars, offices, apartments and financial planning services." And the committee said that G.E. had received great value from the arrangement.
In a statement also on Friday, Mr. Welch said the plan had "worked to the benefit of all constituencies."
But Graef Crystal, a compensation expert, asked whether the committee should be revisiting existing arrangements from time to time to see if they make sense in light of the current business environment. "Even if they made sense in 1996, the question is whether they do now."
According to G.E.'s 2001 proxy statement, Mr. Welch put few benefits to personal use. He had only $171,772 in compensation beyond his salary and bonus. The single item that is detailed is $143,479 for financial counseling. That leaves only $28,293 to cover all other spending for personal reasons.
Securities and Exchange Commission rulings require that companies report any personal benefits if they are over $50,000 in total or over 10 percent of any top executive's salary and bonus, whichever figure is lower. In Mr. Welch's case, his 2001 salary and bonus were $16.2 million, so he had to declare any benefits over $50,000.
Thus General Electric is taking the position that any use of the corporate apartment and other perks beyond the $171,772 he spent during the eight months before he retired from General Electric in September 2001, was for corporate purposes. While Mr. Welch must pay taxes on that amount, General Electric can write off that money, if it can show that they are ordinary and necessary expenses of doing business.
Mr. Crystal, the compensation expert, said he found it hard to believe that all those benefits were purely for corporate use. Mr. Welch has four homes — in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Florida. "How did he get to those far-flung places?" Mr. Crystal wondered. "By Amtrak?"
Mr. Sheffer said that people do not understand how G.E. operated. "Mr. Welch, for example, was required to use G.E. transportation at all times for security reasons," he said.
Mr. Crystal said there was no reason for that protection. "If he needs it, why not take a prop plane?" he said. "And now that he is retired, who is going to go after him anyway?"
The planes are also financially advantageous to Mr. Welch.
Mr. Sheffer said that under federal tax rules, personal trips by Mr. Welch using corporate transportation are not required to be disclosed to shareholders. For income tax purposes, when he uses the corporate jet for personal reasons he must pay income taxes not on the cost of the flight, but on the rough equivalent of coach fare, Mr. Sheffer said.
He said that the rules for proxy disclosure and the rules for what Mr. Welch must report as income were not identical, so all of the income Mr. Welch received in the form of personal services might not be reported in the proxy but would be on his W-2 wage statement.
Tax lawyers interviewed yesterday said that many of the items that Mrs. Welch says the company paid for are clearly personal in nature and are compensation to Mr. Welch on which he should pay taxes.
When Mr. Welch files his divorce papers, they are likely to show his income last year. And they will likely include documentation on how much of the benefits he received from G.E. were for his personal use, and therefore how much he must be taxed.
According to the court papers, the subsidies include a car and driver for Welch and his wife, and the communications and computer equipment at the Manhattan apartment and at their homes in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Florida. General Electric even pays for security personnel when the Welches travel abroad.
Welch states that General Electric was paying for a box at the Metropolitan Opera, a box at Red Sox games, a box at Yankee games, four country club fees, security services in all four homes, limousine services while traveling, discounts on charter flights and on diamonds and settings.
Even if he takes the position that his personal use of those benefits was minimal, some experts yesterday wondered just whether such a rich deal would stand up in court.
Nevertheless, tax defense lawyers yesterday said there was almost no prospect of a criminal tax charge against G.E. or Mr. Welch unless evidence appeared that there had been a deliberate attempt to conceal the spending from I.R.S. auditors.
However, these same tax lawyers said that an audit would likely result in the company or the Welches owing taxes and interest, and that if the couple were held to be responsible, they could owe substantial penalties for under- reporting their income and filing inaccurate tax returns.
Kathryn Keneally, a tax defense lawyer in New York, said that even if G.E. improperly reported the payments to Mr. Welch, "there are a thousand ways they can handle this" that would allow G.E. to escape penalties, but not taxes and interest.
Long-Term Joblessness Rose by 50 Percent Over the Last Year
While the job market remains healthy for the end of a recession, the number of people who have been jobless for months has climbed to a level more typical of a deep downturn.
Critics assail Fed chief over interest rate policies
WASHINGTON (AP) As he begins his 16th year in America's toughest economic policy post, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has seen better days. He is beset by second-guessers who blame him for a range of economic woes, from last year's recession to the $7 trillion meltdown on Wall Street.
By RICHARD JUSTICE
At the chaotic end, there was a team owner leaping for joy and a coach hugging
anyone and everyone. There were players dancing and players hugging. Some seemed reluctant to even leave the field, seemingly intent on soaking in every incredible moment.
Most of all, there was the sellout crowd roaring its approval and shaking the shiny new stadium to its concrete and steel bones as the final seconds ticked off
Texans 19, Dallas Cowboys 10.
The NFL's newest team could not have dreamed of this. Not on this night. Not against this opponent. Two years ago, they were one man's dream. One year ago, they were cardboard boxes stacked inside temporary offices.
Today, they're unbeaten and in first place.
Their first regular-season game became their first remarkable moment as they rode two David Carr touchdown passes and huge performances by their defense and special teams to an improbable and historic victory Sunday night.
"I'm very proud of our team," Texans coach Dom Capers said. "It was one of those games that you have a good feeling about as a coach because you saw the way they prepared. It's a great feeling to see a group of players come together like this. Five months ago, these guys hadn't even played together."
Had the Texans attempted to script their first night in the NFL, they couldn't have scripted it this way. Only one other NFL expansion team had ever won its first game, and that was the 1961 Minnesota Vikings.
Instead, they wanted a good show. They wanted traffic to flow smoothly, they wanted Reliant Stadium to look its best, and they wanted their young team to play hard and give fans a reason to be excited.
Only in their wildest dreams did the Texans dream of a victory.
Not on their opening night in the NFL. Not with five rookies in the starting lineup and 16 players in their first or second NFL seasons. And certainly not against the Cowboys, the franchise they'll be forever measured against.
And then again ...
The Texans set a tone early in the game when Carr tossed a 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end Billy Miller. Then they turned a Dallas turnover into a field goal and a 10-0 lead, and all of a sudden, a victory that had seemed beyond comprehension was within their reach.
"What I think about is how much improvement our team has made," Texans owner Bob McNair said. "We're executing the plan we set out to execute."
General manager Charley Casserly remembered turning to McNair at about this time and saying: "We're going to win. We're going to win."
Television cameras later caught McNair leaping happily and Casserly shaking a fist in the air.
It's not just that the Texans won. They knocked off a team that believes it's good enough to go to the playoffs and a team that inspires more passion around the state than any other. Had the Texans rode those early punches to victory, that would have been one thing.
But they found themselves in a 10-10 tie in the fourth quarter, and the Texans responded again.
Carr delivered the winning points on a 65-yard touchdown pass to Corey Bradford when the young receiver leaped over future Hall of Fame safety Darren Woodson to make the catch.
The Texans clinched it once and for all when Seth Payne rushed into the end zone to throw Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter for a safety.
In the end, they won because Carr made just enough big plays and because it was the Cowboys who looked like the first-year expansion team. Dallas was penalized nine times for 117 yards and turned the ball over twice.
In one of the more high-profile Dallas-Houston matchups of all-time, Houston won going away.
From the beginning of training camp, Capers had said he wanted to use the Houston heat as a sort of home-field advantage. Because of scattered rain showers, the Texans decided to keep the retractable stadium roof closed, and in the process, Capers found another home-field advantage, one that may even be better than the heat.
Reliant Stadium was loud.
"I'm telling you, it was loud," Texans running back James Allen said. "It was louder than anything. They were going nuts. Sometimes it got so loud that when they snapped the ball, I was just following everybody else. This city wanted it. This city deserves it. To stand there at the end and just listen to them all go crazy, that's what it's all about. It's like the heavens were with us."
ESPN analyst Joe Theismann called it the loudest stadium he'd ever heard, and the Cowboys probably wouldn't argue.
Even if the Texans hadn't won, Reliant Stadium passed with flying colors as an array of guests, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, praised its beauty and intimacy.
Houston had not hosted an NFL game since the Oilers departed after the 1996 season, and fans roared with approval with their new team's every step. A Dallas columnist had predicted the city would be embarrassed by the number of Cowboys fans in the crowd, but they could hardly be heard over the thunderclap of cheers for the new home team.
"Not too long ago, we had no stadium, no team, no organization," McNair said. "Now, you're standing in probably the finest stadium in America. This is a momentous occasion."
McNair did a pretty good imitation of the happiest guy on earth as he walked Tagliabue and other visitors through the stadium with its wide concourses and dazzling city views.
Before the game, he and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones posed with the Governor's Cup, the trophy Perry presented to the game's winner. Since the two teams will only play a regular-season game every four years, it's not likely to be as hotly contested as a Super Bowl trophy, but for now it'll have to do.
Jones and McNair are attempting to arrange an annual preseason game between the two teams, and the first could be played in Mexico City next summer.
As Jones attempted to speak during the ceremony, he was drowned out by boos. When McNair took the microphone, he got an immediate and impromptu standing ovation.
"Bob and the city did extraordinary things to get this franchise," Tagliabue said. "They showed tenacity and teamwork. It speaks well for the future of the franchise."
For Tagliabue, it was a special night. With Houston's return to the NFL, he has now assisted three cities -- Houston, Cleveland and Baltimore -- that lost franchises in getting new ones.
Seattle, Detroit and New England are also opening new stadiums, and Tagliabue will visit them all. He was impressed with his first stop.
"This is a world-class stadium and may be the greatest in the world," Tagliabue said. "I've seen a lot of stadiums around the world, and I haven't seen any to match it. It's very striking. It's going to be wonderful for fans."
By Bernie Miklasz
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
DENVER -- Brilliant decision to close practices, Mike Martz. Now we know why you banned the media: You didn't want us to see that you and the players were unprepared to open the season.
Hey, at least we know what the Rams were working on all week during their clandestine, closed-door, top-secret practices: Sleepwalking . . . remarkably dull play-calling by the head coach . . . wasting timeouts . . . finding new ways to mess up on special teams . . . the offensive line submitting to a physical beating so the defense can smother the NFL's best player, Marshall Faulk . . . and making greedy coaching decisions, like bypassing a game-tying field goal to kill your team's momentum.
On Sunday at Invesco Field, Martz and the Rams gave us a Super Bowl redux. They weren't emotionally ready. They were physically pounded by an aggressive defense. Martz's game management was a liability. And Martz's ego got the best of him. The result was a 23-16 loss to the inferior Broncos.
In their past eight quarters of real football, the Greatest Show on Earth has scored 33 points. And Martz has blown two consecutive games with highly questionable coaching. Martz is officially on Mensa probation.
We'll start at the beginning: The Rams were not stoked to play and came out flat. Martz said his team was ``stunned'' by Denver's early intensity and aggression. How can that be? Inexcusable.
We'll move on to the play-calling. What was the plan? Martz wasn't caught off guard by Denver's tactics. ``They were very simple,'' he said. ``They did basically what they did in the preseason. It wasn't a hard game from that standpoint at all.''
OK, so why did Martz fail to shred such a plain-wrapper defense? Denver stayed basic, rarely replacing one of the three linebackers with an extra defensive back. The Broncos dared Martz to throw the ball downfield, but he went with dink passes to Faulk. The fast Broncos linebackers closed in on No. 28 to limit his gains. Of quarterback Kurt Warner's 32 completions, 24 went for 9 yards or fewer.
This was the exact opposite of the Super Bowl, when the Patriots deployed extra defensive backs and challenged Martz to call runs -- and he flew right into the trap with many passes. Surely, Martz is smarter than this and is capable of adjusting his game plan.
And then there were the squandered timeouts [em dash] a continuation of Martz's bad habit. Trailing in the final two minutes, the Rams were helpless to stop the clock and get the ball back. They had no timeouts left, because Martz goes through them the way a kid gobbles a bag of M&M's candy. Warner used the final timeout with 3 minutes 10 seconds remaining.
``I messed it up,'' Martz said. ``I gave (Warner) the wrong formation and confused him.''
Poor game management was a factor on that final Rams drive, which ended in a field goal. They needed 3:43 to run eight plays. Down by 10 points, their tempo was too leisurely. The Rams wasted valuable time between plays.
And we first-guessed Martz's decision to skip the potential tying field goal late in the third quarter with Denver leading 16-13. The Broncos were pressing. Shaky Broncos QB Brian Griese was getting booed by the home crowd. The Rams had a fourth down and nearly 2 yards to go at Denver's 9-yard line. The decision was simple: Your team is playing on the road in a hostile stadium, so kick the field goal, tie it up, silence the crowd and make Griese and the Broncos squirm some more. Play a little traditional football.
Instead, Martz went for the first down and the gamble failed, taking the pressure off Griese and the Broncos. And to make matters worse, the fourth-down pass play was apparently designed to go to fullback Chris Hetherington. Huh? You can choose from Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Ricky Proehl or Ernie Conwell . . . and you make Hetherington the money guy? Martz is so eager to be the maverick that he sometimes forgets what's best for his team.
``We'll be aggressive in our approach,'' Martz said. ``Some may look at it as not being the right approach, but that's how I'm going to approach it.''
The embarrassing loss in the Super Bowl did not humble the man. Martz Madness is still with us.
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