By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
10/13/2009

There is no quarterback competition, much less a quarterback controversy in St. Louis.

"Marc's the quarterback," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said Monday.

Kyle Boller had played most of the past three games after Bulger suffered a bruised rotator cuff in his right shoulder late in the first quarter against Green Bay on Sept. 27. Boller started against San Francisco and Minnesota but left the Vikings game early in the fourth quarter with what Spagnuolo termed a mild concussion.


The Rams didn't plan to play Bulger against the Vikings, or he would've started. The idea was to give the shoulder one more Sunday off. Obviously it didn't work out that way, and now Spagnuolo thinks Bulger will be ready for this week's game in Jacksonville.

"Again, I'm going to be careful because he took a hit in there, too (against Minnesota)," Spagnuolo said.

Assuming Bulger is fit and looks good throwing the ball Wednesday when the team returns to practice, Spagnuolo said Bulger will start against the Jaguars.

"I would think, yeah," Spagnuolo said. "But we have the luxury of having two guys that know how to manage the game; I think two guys that the offense has confidence in."

Maybe so, but now there's uncertainty about Boller's health after he was dinged by Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards. Boller is scheduled for a neurological exam today and won't be cleared to play unless he passes it.

Bulger and Boller have played roughly 10 quarters apiece this season, with the Rams scoring 14 points with Bulger in the game and 20 points with Boller playing. Boller's mobility was an asset, but his turnovers were a problem, with three interceptions and a lost fumble in his 10 quarters of play. Bulger has no interceptions and one lost fumble this season.

Two of Boller's turnovers were returned directly for touchdowns, including the lost fumble against Minnesota on a play where the ball squirted out of his hand while Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams was bearing down on him.

"When a ball slips out of your hand, and you miss a routine handoff, those are tough things to explain," Spagnuolo said.

The "routine handoff" was a reference to a lost fumble on a first-and-goal play from the Minnesota 1 early in the second quarter on what was supposed to be a run by Steven Jackson. Jackson took the blame for the play, but it might have been caused by a botched exchange from Boller.

As for the earlier Boller fumble, which was returned for a TD by Vikings defensive end Jared Allen in the first quarter, the play was supposed to be a screen pass. Right guard Richie Incognito was supposed to let Williams through to set up the screen but was supposed to get at least a piece of him.

"There probably could've been a little bit more of that," Spagnuolo said. "But I think if you ask Kyle, he'd tell you that all that being considered, he was going to get (the ball) out, and it was going to be a pretty positive play at least from where we were standing."

As for the interception on the play in which Boller suffered his concussion, wide receivers Danny Amendola and Keenan Burton practically ran into each other running their routes. In the process, they drew a host of Vikings defenders.

Spagnuolo rebuffed several queries on what went wrong on the play, saying only, "It was an interception"... and "they made a heck of a play."

Amendola was slightly more enlightening. "Stuff could've been done better," he said. "I'd like to say it was one guy's fault, but it really wasn't. It was an accumulation of the defense they were playing and the routes that we were running."

Whatever the cause, it was the fourth turnover of the day for St. Louis. The Rams have committed 12 turnovers this season only Tennessee (13) and Carolina (14) have committed more. And the Rams are at minus-7 in takeaway-giveaway differential. Only Carolina at minus-9 is worse.

"It's a ball security thing," Spagnuolo said. "We're preaching it all the time. ... It'll get solved. It's funny they're all a different way. If you think back, they're all different. But it's the same result."

Namely, a turnover, and a lost opportunity for the offense or special teams units.

"I don't know if we can emphasize it more," Spagnuolo said. "We will continue to emphasize it."

Ball security hasn't been a problem with Bulger so far this season. He has gone 75 passes without an interception. Although it came at mop-up time against Minnesota, his seven-for-seven performance Sunday, for 88 yards and a touchdown, probably reasserted Bulger's claim to the starting job.

"It was good to see Marc go in there and zip the ball around," Spagnuolo said.