It seemed like Larry Marmie had upgraded his situation after last season, when the outgoing Cardinals defensive coordinator — ousted when coach Dave McGinnis was fired — was hired by St. Louis coach and longtime friend Mike Martz.
But Marmie has been a frequent target of criticism this season as the Rams have faded to 30th in the league in takeaways, and even this week, he got less than a ringing endorsement from Rams safety Adam Archuleta.
Asked if the criticism of Marmie has been fair, Archuleta said, “That’s hard for me to say.”
“As players, regardless of the scheme and regardless of what is going on, it is up to us to make plays,” Archuleta added. “Like I said, we’ve been in position a few times where we’ve been there to make plays and we just haven’t.”
Archuleta said Marmie prefers many more schemes compared to with Marmie’s predecessor, Lovie Smith, the current Chicago coach who had one way to play defense and dared offenses to beat it.
Martz, who is close to Marmie since Marmie hired Martz for his staff while at Arizona State, has passionately defended Marmie a few times this season to St. Louis media.
“I think Larry’s the very best, so I’m not concerned about that,” Martz said. “It does bother me because I know what a good man he is and what a great coach he is, but by the same token, I just keep my eye on the prize and I know that this thing will work out and we’ll be a terrific defense. The last two weeks we’ve moved up seven notches on the defensive rankings (to 22nd). So the players can see the improvement.”
Looking for “more of a threat” on punt returns, Cardinals coach Dennis Green still isn’t sure who will be back there. Karl Williams has averaged only 6.1 yards a return.
Green used cornerback Duane Starks at the end of Sunday’s game, and Starks averaged 11 yards on two returns. He also said he wouldn’t mind another chance.
“I enjoy it,” Starks said. “I grew up playing quarterback; I grew up with the ball in my hand. (Now) that’s the only way I can get the ball.”
The only member of Green’s first draft class who was not on the active roster, fifth-round pick Antonio Smith, has been promoted from the practice squad.
“He’s kind of the last piece of that first class,” Green said of the defensive end. “He’s a late bloomer.
"That’s why we were patient with him here. We were a little disappointed initially but now we see where he is coming.”
Smith said he agreed with Green’s assessment.
“I can say I was definitely raw,” Smith said. “I probably still am.”
As expected, the Cards brought back wide receiver Reggie Newhouse and tight end Lorenzo Diamond, cut Wednesday, to the practice squad.. . .
Linebacker Raynoch Thompson (shoulder), quarterback Shaun King (strep throat) and safety Michael Stone (foot) were the only players to miss practice Thursday.