By Nick Wagoner
It took only about 24 hours for new Rams coach Jim Haslett to make his first important decision in his new job.
As expected, Haslett announced Tuesday that Marc Bulger would be restored to his spot as the starting quarterback of the Rams, effective immediately. Not only did Bulger return to run the top offense in Tuesday’s practice but Haslett expects him to do it for the rest of the year, barring unforeseen circumstances.
“Marc is going to be the quarterback and he will be the starting quarterback for the rest of the year unless something happens,” Haslett said. “I talked to Marc and Trent (Green) about it and it is more of a gut feeling on my part. I talked to most of the offensive coaches and everybody involved and I thought Marc would give us the best opportunity to win games for the next three months.”
Now that he’s back in the saddle, Bulger addressed the media for the first time since the Rams’ loss to Seattle on Sept. 21.
When former coach Scott Linehan decided to install Trent Green as the starter last week, Bulger went undercover. Now, Bulger says he simply didn’t want to be a distraction.
“I didn’t want to distract the team,” Bulger said. “I was like I said, upset, disappointed, I didn’t think it was the right decision, but that doesn’t matter. It’s the decision the head coach made and I had to live with it. I mean there’s no point in me telling you guys how disappointed I was because we had to get Trent ready.”
While Bulger was not speaking out on his benching, teammates such as running back Steven Jackson did speak out in his defense. While Bulger says he appreciated the support from his friend and teammate, he also wanted it to be known that any reports that he would not have stepped in for Green had he been asked were erroneous.
“That is not who I am and coach Linehan knew that I would be ready,” Bulger said. “The minute I wasn’t sure he knew it or not and the report came out, we talked in his office and he knew I would be ready. First quarter, half time, third quarter, so I don’t think it was ever an issue. I practiced hard and I took every rep with the (scout team) so don’t think it was ever going to be an issue.”
Bulger has been in the position of backup before. Last season, even though he was dealing with a rib injury, he was benched in favor of Gus Frerotte.
Bulger went through those weeks like he did last week, working with the scout team and doing his best to help get Green prepared to start for the first time in more than a year.
Asked about his relationship with Linehan, Bulger said losing puts a strain on any relationship and refused to say anything bad about his former boss.
Instead, Bulger is excited about moving ahead with his job back and a fresh start with Haslett at the helm.
“It’s definitely a different feeling today,” Bulger said. “Things have changed a little bit, I know the schedule is kind of the same, but their personalities are little bit different. I think it will be good for us to get three or four days away and come back and with that fresh start because certainly it didn’t start out the way we wanted. But guys haven’t quit and we honestly still think we do have a chance in the division, believe it or not.”
One of the first questions directed to Haslett when he was introduced as the head coach on Monday was whether he planned to put Bulger back in the starting lineup.
Haslett said he wanted to meet with the offensive coaching staff to discuss the possibility first. After those meetings convened, it was clear to Haslett that Bulger should be back in the lineup. That was a nearly unanimous vote.
Haslett said Tuesday he didn’t feel the need to make any apologies to Bulger for what happened last week and he informed Bulger this morning he’d be starting against Washington in a couple weeks.
“There’s a reason why you get benched and there’s a reason why you’re out there playing,” Haslett said. “I think that the players know that they have to be accountable also. Obviously, Scott was held accountable and now I think it’s the players’ turn to step up and be accountable. Marc understands that and he understands that I have full confidence in that he’s going to go out there and do his job and I think he understands what I expect from him.”
Bulger appeared to be in good spirits Tuesday now that he has his job back. During the short practice, he took all of the repetitions with the first team and appeared in good spirits.
It’s a far cry from last week when Bulger was admittedly upset. But even then, Bulger says he realized that his situation wasn’t too bad after all and thoughts of taking a job that isn’t always so crazy and hectic.
“It crosses your mind here and there,” Bulger said. “Your priorities are in line and I have a good family. There are so many worse things you could be doing in so many worse situations in life, you almost laugh at yourself and look in the mirror for taking it so serious. I understand how lucky I am to be in the position I am, the country I’m in, the job I have. If I have to take a little scrutiny over whether I’m starting on a week, I think my priorities would be a little out of whack.”
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