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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Bulger, Boller and a matter of fairness ..

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    08/29/2009

    Three games into the preseason, here are some updated thoughts on the Rams:

    I don't see how quarterback Marc Bulger can go into Seattle after missing so much preseason time (broken finger) and effectively run a new offense. Kyle Boller should play until Bulger has had sufficient time to practice, fully absorb the offense and sharpen his accuracy. It isn't fair to Bulger to throw him into the pit at Seattle on Sept. 13.

    Boller isn't the prettiest of QBs, but this much already is obvious: The dude competes like a madman.

    The best thing to take out of the Rams' performance in Cincinnati: They got after it on both sides of the ball. They were physical. Rookie coach Steve Spagnuolo has cultivated that attitude since taking over. It's a welcome change.
    Fans and media are overreacting to the Rams' takeaways in the first three preseason games. Is it positive to be active and flying to the football? Yes. But are the Rams forcing turnovers against top players? No. These aren't real games. Many of the real players are still on the sideline. Starting quarterback Carson Palmer didn't play for the Bengals on Thursday night.

    That said, when safety O.J. Atogwe forces a turnover, it's legit. He knows how to pry the football loose. It's a tremendous skill. And he has a center fielder's range. It's scary to think of how many takeaways Atogwe will come up with if he ever plays on a Rams defense that consistently applies heat and gooses the quarterback into making hurried throws.

    Center Jason Brown, the team's top free-agent acquisition, looks like an outstanding player. And at left guard, I'm not so sure that Jacob Bell is better than tough guy Mark Setterstrom.

    Look, I think James Laurinaitis is going to be a really good NFL middle linebacker in time, but let's not put the kid in Canton just yet. This is similar to what I saw last summer, with the sports media swooning over rookie defensive end Chris Long, who couldn't match the breathless hype. Give these kids a chance to develop, OK?

    Don't worry so much about the wide receivers. They don't matter as much in the initial scheme of the Rams offense. This will be a fairly conservative, punch-it-out attack with lots of short pass routes, devised to help the QB unload quickly and avoid sacks and mistakes. A year from now, the wideouts will be more important.

    I really like the way Spagnuolo and defensive coordinator Ken Flagel move the defensive pieces around to attack the offensive formation, create confusion and exploit the mismatches. This will be fun to watch. Several defensive players, including Will Witherspoon, James Hall and C. Long, should thrive in these schemes.

    READING TIME, FIVE MINUTES

    Free Jason Smith.

    The No. 2 overall pick has to be an immediate starting player, right? The Rams went 2-14 last season. They had a terrible offensive line. They drafted Smith second overall to be a cornerstone offensive tackle. They gave him $33 million in guaranteed money. And Smith hasn't moved ahead of Adam Goldberg or Alex Barron for a starting job? Wow. ... B.J. Rains of MLB.com wryly notes that the Cardinals have benefited from the recent, divine acquisitions of Matthew, Mark, Lugo and John.

    Congrats to the football team at Southern Illinois; the Salukis are ranked No. 7 in the nation in the FCS coaches preseason poll. ... Also from Carbondale: Former Salukis guard Tony Young, a tough defender in a college career that concluded in 2007, has joined the staff of St. Louis U. basketball coach Rick Majerus and will serve as a graduate assistant and manager. ... Former St. Louis U. and Missouri basketball assistant Jay Spoonhour is the new men's basketball coach at Moberly Area CC.

    Former Rams coach Mike Martz was a guest on my WXOS (101.1 FM) radio show this week, and we asked for his assessment of the Rams' new football leadership provided by Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney. "What they did there is just outstanding," Martz said. "Billy is terrific. They have really got this thing structured and organized now and everybody is accountable. And that is the key. The head coach is outstanding. Steve is absolutely the perfect fit for that job. He brings a toughness and leadership to that job that they need. Those players were looking around trying to figure out what's going on well, not anymore. He gets their attention and gets them going. It's going to take a little time to get his personality, his stamp. And as they get better personnel, they're going to really be a tough football team." Martz is working for the NFL Network, appearing each Monday night with Steve Mariucci and Jim Mora on the new "NFL Head Coaches Show."


  2. #2
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Bulger, Boller and a matter of fairness ..

    Bernie trying to use his platform to create a controversy (in this case, a QB controversy).

    What a shocker.

    If Bulger is healthy, he's the starter.

    Next question!

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    Azul e Oro is online now Registered User
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    Re: Bulger, Boller and a matter of fairness ..

    Typical statements of the obvious; don't get too excited by pre-season performances,either way.

    And unsubstantiated mancrushes; Brown has been "outstanding?!" SJ & the other RBs have frequently been stuffed at the LOS when running up the middle. And a mistimed snap has put our starting QB on the bench. I think the guy will be good,too, but "outstanding" is pushing it based on performance to this point. And given the ratio of expectations to pre-season performance, I'd say Robinson is the FA find of the off-season so far.

    Inconsistent application of opinion/theory at different positions. Why should The Rams be patient with Bulger for the longterm good but not Jason Smith? I like the patience idea but be consistent.

    OJ's ballhawking skills are indisputable but I still think his coverage skills are relatively sketchy and tendency to go for the strip instead of the tackle in open space is dangerous.

    Ken "Flagel"?! You've got to be kidding me.

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    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Bulger, Boller and a matter of fairness ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Azul e Oro View Post
    And given the ratio of expectations to pre-season performance, I'd say Robinson is the FA find of the off-season so far.
    Except he was acquired via trade, not as a free agent.

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    Azul e Oro is online now Registered User
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    Re: Bulger, Boller and a matter of fairness ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Except he was acquired via trade, not as a free agent.
    Fair point. I stand corrected. How about James Butler then? I think he's a bigger upgrade over his predecessor at safety than Brown has been so far at his. I don't think Romberg's getting back into the lineup last season got as much notice as it deserved.

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    Re: Bulger, Boller and a matter of fairness ..

    Ken Flagel
    Good grief, Bern. At least we amateurs manage to spell the man's name right.
    I don't see how quarterback Marc Bulger can go into Seattle after missing so much preseason time (broken finger) and effectively run a new offense. Kyle Boller should play until Bulger has had sufficient time to practice, fully absorb the offense and sharpen his accuracy. It isn't fair to Bulger to throw him into the pit at Seattle on Sept. 13.
    Are you kidding me? He's been sitting for a couple of weeks, so you think he should sit longer? If the pinkie is ready, put him on the field! He's had the whole offseason and most of camp to prepare with this offense. So what that Boller took the snaps in the Preseason; because if I remember correctly....
    Quote Originally Posted by Miklasz
    These aren't real games. Many of the real players are still on the sideline.
    Boller isn't the prettiest of QBs, but this much already is obvious: The dude competes like a madman.
    So does Charles Manson. Maybe you'd like him at QB.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Bulger, Boller and a matter of fairness ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Azul e Oro View Post
    Fair point. I stand corrected. How about James Butler then? I think he's a bigger upgrade over his predecessor at safety than Brown has been so far at his. I don't think Romberg's getting back into the lineup last season got as much notice as it deserved.
    I must respectively disagree, even though I liked Rhomberg, Jason Brown is a pro bowl caliber player. I don't see that potential in Butler. Granted Chavous was done last year so the upgrade may be on par, but Brown is going to bring a nasty and competitive swagger to our oline. Brown will be the leader and the most talented of that unit of five, and by my count Butler is number three out of four in the secondary. Let me say that I'm not downgrading Butler, merely agreeing with Bernie ( )that he will make a huge impact on our O.

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    Azul e Oro is online now Registered User
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    Re: Bulger, Boller and a matter of fairness ..

    Quote Originally Posted by C-Mob 71 View Post
    I must respectively disagree, even though I liked Rhomberg, Jason Brown is a pro bowl caliber player. I don't see that potential in Butler. Granted Chavous was done last year so the upgrade may be on par, but Brown is going to bring a nasty and competitive swagger to our oline. Brown will be the leader and the most talented of that unit of five, and by my count Butler is number three out of four in the secondary. Let me say that I'm not downgrading Butler, merely agreeing with Bernie ( )that he will make a huge impact on our O.
    I definitely agree that the upside for Brown should be much higher than for Butler but that isn't what Bernie wrote.

    Brown has NOT been outstanding in preseason,imo. I'm not saying he has been a disappointment but has he stood out? Not to me. I think it was either Sando or King who made a similar observation so, if I'm wrong, I'm in better company than ole Bernie's,anyway.LOL

    Butler,on the other hand, has stood out here and there as a much stouter runstopper than Chavous and has already cleaned up some of the messes that Atogwe has created with his gambles in situations where Chavous would have been a mile behind the play. Just a casual impression based on limited playing samples at best but ..

    And while Nick was right to correct my classifying him as a FA, I am much more convinced of Robinson's standout status than I am of Brown's right now based on this preseason.

    The only thing that has stood out so far about Jason is his mouth; the Boller gunshy thing,the Haynesworth comments, and his tender family jewels/PinkieGate.Of course he gets the same slack as everybody else at this early stage but I haven't been blown away by anything on the field as "outstanding".

    Spags even hinted that a miscalled center protection may have been responsible for one or more of the poor blitz pick ups in the first game.

    Considering the money and expectations, I don't think it's unreasonable to set the actual demonstrated performance bar quite a bit higher than Brown has reached to this point.

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    Re: Bulger, Boller and a matter of fairness ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie
    The No. 2 overall pick has to be an immediate starting player, right? The Rams went 2-14 last season. They had a terrible offensive line. They drafted Smith second overall to be a cornerstone offensive tackle. They gave him $33 million in guaranteed money. And Smith hasn't moved ahead of Adam Goldberg or Alex Barron for a starting job? Wow.
    I guess the rule is: Fans and media can't overreact after a few preseason games, but Bernie can.

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    Re: Bulger, Boller and a matter of fairness ..

    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam View Post

    Congrats to the football team at Southern Illinois; the Salukis are ranked No. 7 in the nation in the FCS coaches preseason poll. ... Also from Carbondale: Former Salukis guard Tony Young, a tough defender in a college career that concluded in 2007, has joined the staff of St. Louis U. basketball coach Rick Majerus and will serve as a graduate assistant and manager. ...
    Alright, go Salukis. My Alma Mater

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