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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Bulger Finding Fit In New Offense

    Bulger Finding Fit in New Offense
    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Back in the spring when everything around the Russell Training Center was new to everyone, quarterback Marc Bulger was charged with the biggest task among all the players.

    While a new coaching staff and new players are always asked to learn a new system, the nature of the quarterback position makes Bulger’s job even more difficult. Bulger had to learn a new system, sure, but it was a system much different than any in which he’s played.

    Now almost two weeks into his first training camp under new coach Steve Spagnuolo and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, Bulger is still getting comfortable in the new setup. But it’s also clear that with each passing day, Bulger’s grasp of that offense is getting better and better.

    “The one thing about Marc is he’s very decisive, he knows what he’s looking at and he’s an extremely accurate quarterback,” Shurmur said. “So those are all attributes that are very fundamental to being successful. I’m pleased with that and I think he’ll have a chance to be successful if he does those things.”

    As the Rams prepare for their first preseason game on Friday night in New York against the Jets, they have moved ever closer to having Shurmur’s entire offense installed.

    According to Bulger, the Rams have had 13 installation sessions, the time where the offense takes the plays from the playbook and puts them into practice, to this point.

    Bulger estimates there are only about two more installation sessions and believes the entire basic playbook will be in by Thursday. After that, the only thing left to add will be weekly game plan installation.

    With most of the mental work put in and plenty of practices under his belt, Bulger isn’t making any bold proclamations about how he fits into the offense. Instead, he’s looking at it from a big picture point of view.

    “Yes, if we win, it’s going to be something I love,” Bulger said. “As long as we’re winning games, any offense… I don’t think any offense in the NFL is perfect, but I’ve played on a couple now, they’ve been successful other places, they’ve been successful here, so this offense has won super bowls, the other won super bowls, so it’s just matter of fitting your personnel to the offense. If we get 39 (RB Steven Jackson) going, I think any offense would be great, and Pat has a great handle on this offense, he was in it for 10 years, and I think he learned a ton from coach (Andy) Reid and coach (Brad) Childress, I think he’s had some great mentors.”

    Still, it’s only fair to give Bulger plenty of time to adjust to an offense that is vastly different from the one he thrived in under former coach Mike Martz. Even Scott Linehan’s offense was much closer to the Martz system than the one being put in now.

    Many of the basic principles of Shurmur’s offense come from the old Bill Walsh West Coast System. That means an emphasis on short drops, getting the ball out quickly and most of all accuracy.

    While Bulger has never played in an offense of that style, there’s no doubting that many of his strengths would seem to be beneficial in this type of offense.

    “He is a very accurate quarterback,” Spagnuolo said. “A couple throws the other day…I’m not sure how many other quarterbacks could have made those throws. If he keeps doing that and stays steady and Pat and Dick (Curl) keep working with him, he’ll be ok.”

    In addition to learning a new offensive system and philosophy, Bulger is also working with a new coordinator and position coach, something that has become old hat to him in his NFL career.

    Now that Bulger has had a little time to get to know his new coaches, he says the pair has made his adjustment to the new system an easy one.

    “It’s been great,” Bulger said. “If you spend this much time with somebody over two weeks, you hope that you have a good relationship not only in football, but we spend a lot more time just besides football. So we developed a quick relationship, we like each other, Coach Curl brings a ton of experience in the NFL, he can be the mediator between me and Pat and Coach Spagnuolo with things I like to do, and at the same time, Pat has things he likes to do, and coach Curl is able to relay it to us and explain why he likes certain things just from all the experience he’s had.”

    Aside from the task of learning the new offense, Bulger is also adjusting to a new approach to the way his repetitions are handled in the preseason.

    The Rams coaching staff will meet Tuesday night to discuss how much work it wants to give Bulger and the rest of his teammates in this week’s preseason opener against the Jets.

    In this training camp so far, the Rams have gone live plenty of times but the quarterbacks have remained off limits. Further, Bulger has been kept on a “pitch count” in practices in an effort to preserve his arm. That approach has worked as Bulger seems to get stronger as camp goes on.

    “They’ve been keeping a pitch count for me and I’ve only been in the 60s or 70s for practices which has been great for me,” Bulger said. “I’ve thrown a lot more in the past, but we haven’t had as many two-a-days in the past so it’s been a good amount. It hasn’t been sore, it feels fresh, so I think they’ve done a good job with that.”

    As for the preseason contests, Bulger has regularly been protected and received little work in those games in the past. It remains to be seen how he will be used this time around but Bulger says he likes the idea of getting some hits out of the way and getting in a little more work than he has in years past.

    “It’s a fine line,” Bulger said. “You want to get your work; you obviously want to be successful. You don’t want to go in, have two drives, and not get anything done, but at the same time you want to be fresh going into the season because it is a long year. I think they’ll do a good job of judging where we are. I think they’ll talk to us, so we might need a little more work because it is a new offense, but again you don’t want to take a chance going into the season at not a full 100 percent.”

  2. #2
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Re: Bulger Finding Fit In New Offense

    With the new addition on the O line and SJ being the focal point of the line I hoping the transition will be easer on Bulger and should make for a better chance of success.

  3. #3
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    Re: Bulger Finding Fit In New Offense

    I really really really really want aBulger to succeed in this offense. WIll he is another story. Only time will tell gentlemen.

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    Re: Bulger Finding Fit In New Offense

    Another aspect of a WCO-inflected O not mentioned here but I've read elsewhere is that the route runners' responsibilities remain largely the same. Bulger has more on his plate, to be sure, but I don't think we'll see many of the miscues from last year because he can be decisive without worrying about whether the WR/TE/RB has read the D the same way.

    The fact that he's seemingly having a solid camp only reinforces my belief that we'll see less of the indecisive happy feet stuff, much of which,imo, was about MB trying to figure out who was going where and how long he could wait until the uniform "stems" of Saunders' scheme had been run and a route runner's read determined their next move. And too often last year, as we all know,the greenhorns got it wrong or the line failed to give them time to connect.

    As I understand it, it's more up to Bulger to decide on which page the correct play to beat a specific defense actually is, not the rapport of QB and receiver. All these young guys need to do is fulfill the assignments precisely every time and let Marc do the reading.

    It IS a lot of QB responsibility but I like the way it better fits with the personnel in terms of experience and emphasizes what are considered Bulger's best assets.

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    Re: Bulger Finding Fit In New Offense

    “The one thing about Marc is he’s very decisive, he knows what he’s looking at and he’s an extremely accurate quarterback,” Shurmur said. “So those are all attributes that are very fundamental to being successful. I’m pleased with that and I think he’ll have a chance to be successful if he does those things.”

    The first part of this statement is great. Shurmur is seeing accuracy out of Bulger. However, the last sentence is not the ringng endorsement I had hoped for. At this point Shurmur only sees that Bulger has a "chance" to be successful??
    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

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