Says problems won't carry over to season
BY STEVE KORTE
News-Democrat
ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Rams quarterback Marc Bulger isn't fretting over the first-string offense's lack of production so far in the preseason.

He's also doesn't think that the team's problems scoring in the red zone last season might carry over to the 2006 season.

The Rams' first-string offense has failed to score a touchdown in five possessions in the preseason. They've come away with two field goals in two trips in the red zone.

"I don't think it will be an issue," Bulger said. "I think we'll definitely be able to run the ball better this year. That was the main issue in the past. You have to be able to run the ball in the red zone, and we weren't effective with that."

Bulger is confident that the first-string offense will get into more of rhythm during the Rams' preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Arrowhead.

The third preseason game is traditionally the dress rehearsal for the regular season for most NFL teams, so the Rams' first-string offense and defense will play at least a half, and maybe more against the Chiefs.

"We've been moving the ball," Bulger said. "We've had a lot of plays over 15 yards, which is good. If we had a bunch of three-and-outs, we'd be concerned. I think we'll get a better feel this week with two and maybe three quarters with our red zone play."

Bulger said he doesn't get too worked up over preseason games.

"Even if we score four times this week, it all goes away Monday morning," Bulger said.

Bulger said he didn't remember the Rams' preseason record last year.

"We were?" Bulger said when informed that the Rams went 3-1 in the preseason last season. "That tells you how much that means."

Bulger said he feels like he's already in sync with his wide receivers after four weeks of practice since the start of training.

"You look at guys who twist an ankle and they're out the whole preseason, but they come in the first week and not miss a beat," Bulger said. "I don't know how important it is to get the game time."

Rams coach Scott Linehan said he has been pleased with how Bulger has picked up a new offensive system after spending the previous five seasons in Mike Martz's offensive system.

"I think he's doing wonderfully," Linehan said. "He's playing well in practice and he's embracing everything we're doing. It's harder for a quarterback than any other position. People don't realize that he's going through a system change. It's not like we just went and grabbed the playbook and said, 'Let's run it exactly the way they did it before'. There's certain expectations we have of how we do things now versus how they used to be done. It takes a little while, but I think he's done a wonderful job."

Linehan gives his quarterbacks more leeway in changing plays -- known as calling an audible -- at the line of scrimmage than Martz.

Bulger said he has yet to call an audible in the preseason.

"I didn't audible where I got out of a play, but he's called run-pass plays, where you can call the run or go to the pass," Bulger said. "I've gone to the pass when we've had the run, but it's not like I have completely changed the play."

Bulger said Rams backup quarterback Gus Frerotte called an audible on a 4-yard touchdown pass to Shaun McDonald in the third quarterback of the Rams' 27-20 loss to the Houston Texans last Saturday.

"Gus' touchdown pass the other night was a run, and he checked it to a pass," Bulger said. "It wasn't anything complicated. Gus was the first one."

Bulger threw for 2,297 yards and 14 touchdowns last season despite missing eight games due to injury. He completed 66.9 percent of his passes.

According to a new formula by K.C. Joyner of ESPN.com, Bulger was the most accurate quarterback in the NFL last season. Joyner's study rated quarterbacks based on percentage of passes thrown into a receiver's catching window, and Bulger threw almost 90 percent of his passes into that window.

"You know that's just stats," Bulger said.

Asked whether he thought he was the most accurate quarterback in the NFL, Bulger said: "I know I can be as accurate as anybody else. I don't think there are many above me, but then there's arm strength and other things. Everybody is good at something."