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  1. #1
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Bulger 'looked like his old self'

    By Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    08/24/2008

    It was time to learn if Marc Bulger is ready for the 2008 NFL season. The Rams needed their quarterback to get in sync with his receivers Saturday night.

    His first two preseason appearances yielded a passer rating of (gulp!) 14.1. Bulger completed just 10 of 23 passes with three interceptions and no TDs in those outings.

    Yes, there were some mitigating circumstances. Bulger has never had the full first-team offense to run.

    Torry Holt stayed out of the fray during the first two exhibition games. Running back Steven Jackson held out of training camp. Left tackle Orlando Pace was rusty coming back from surgery.

    But still . . . a 14.1 rating? Really?

    “You guys all know, you’ve all done things where you press at things and I think there was some of that,” Rams coach Scott Linehan said during his postgame news conference. “I think you put a lot of pressure on yourself sometimes. It affects your ability to perform.”

    With the stingy Ravens visiting The Ed on Saturday, Bulger’s final full preseason test was daunting. But he passed the test. In fact, he crushed the test.

    Bulger competed 18 of 25 passes for 182 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 119.1. And most of his incomplete passes went right through the hands of his receivers.

    “I just think it was a matter of him going out, relaxing, having fun and getting that smile back on his face,” Linehan said. “I saw that tonight. I think the way the offensive line played has something to do with that. He looked like his old self to me.”

    Bulger felt like the progress made on the practice field finally translated into game results.

    “We are just getting better,” he told reporters after the game. “We started out a little shaky the first week of training camp, but we just continue to get better, so I think that since we haven’t gone backwards in practice, we didn’t play during the game last week, but in our practices we have look great, the effort has been there and that’s the most important thing.”

    Here is a breakdown of his work:

    FIRST POSSESSION

    -- On first-and-10 from the Ravens 36, he put a home run ball on the money to Drew Bennett. But Bennett, getting jostled a bit at the end of the route, couldn’t quite pull the ball in. Bennett needed to do a better job finishing that route.

    -- On third-and-4 from the Ravens 30, Bulger threw a strike to the slanting Holt for nine yards and a first down.

    -- On first-and-10 from the Ravens 21, Bulger couldn’t connect with Bennett on an out pattern. A few minutes later, reporters were informed that Bennett had suffered a groin muscle strain. Well, of course he did.

    Do you get the idea that this whole Drew Bennett Signing isn’t going to pay big dividends? Geesh.

    -- On third-and-10 from the Ravens 21, Bulger had to run for his life. He scrambled out of the pocket for a two-yard gain. Michael Vick he is not. The Rams reached the red zone, but settled for a field goal.


    SECOND POSSESSION

    -- On second-and-7 from the Rams 7, Bulger lofted a long ball toward Dane Looker. This is not his best route. Looker was unable to outrun the Ravens’ coverage or catch up to this pass.


    THIRD POSSESSION

    -- On first-and-10 from the Rams 19, Bulger connected with tight end Randy McMichael -– who lined up in the slot -– for a 10-yard gain. You have to like this play: quick hitter, yet the route was headed upfield.

    -- On second-and-13 from the Rams 26, Bulger found McMichael unattended in the middle of the field. That was good for 12 yards, but the Rams’ “drive” ended right there.


    FOURTH POSSESSION

    -- On first-and-10 from the Rams 28, Bulger hit Holt on a quick slant for six yards.

    -- On second-and-4 from the Rams 34, Bulger flipped a quick out to McMichael for six more yards.

    -- On first-and-10 from the Ravens 49, Bulger flipped a quick three-yard pass to Looker. The Rams found a little rhythm in the no-huddle attack.

    -- On second-and-7 from the Ravens 46, Bulger went downfield to rookie Donnie Avery . . . who couldn’t quite hang onto the pass. Good route, OK throw but there wasn’t a catch at the end of it.

    That incomplete pass, plus a couple of subsequent false start penalties (no!) doomed the drive and led to another punt. Oh, well.

    (By the way, Dante Hall, against all odds, sprained his ankle in this game. That setback makes Avery’s development all the more important.)


    FIFTH POSSESSION

    -- On first-and-10 at the Rams 42, Bulger found Joe Klopfenstein with a quick four-yard gain.

    -- On second-and-6 at the Rams 46, Bulger gunned a 14-yard completion to Holt up the left side.

    -- On first-and-10 from the Ravens 40, Bulger clicked with Holt for nine yards on a sideline route.

    -- On second-and-1 from the Ravens 31, Bulger hooked up with Avery on a 15-yard catch and run up the left sideline. Again, quick throw, caught by a quick receiver heading up the field.

    -- On second-and goal from the Ravens 4, Bulger lobbed a fade pass to rookie Keenan Burton. The kid extended for the ball, but officials ruled him out of bounds on the catch. The Rams challenged the call on the field, the zebra looked at the replays and . . . TOUCHDOWN RAMS!

    That’s only fair, because that scoring pass capped a very crisp drive for Bulger. The Rams moved the ball with tempo and precision.


    SIXTH POSSESSION

    -- On second-and-9 from the Rams 10, Avery couldn't corral Bulger’s pass to the left sideline. The crowd groaned at the near-miss.

    -- On third-and-9 from the Rams 10, Bulger hit Looker slicing over the middle for 12 yards. That was a classic route run by a possession receiver looking to move the sticks.

    -- On first-and-15 from the Rams 17, Bulger connected with Looker over the middle again for 12 more yards.

    -- On second-and-3 from the Rams 29, Burton made an acrobatic catch near the right sideline for 16 yards. Or did he? The Ravens challenged the reception and got it overturned via the replay challenge.

    Still, it was a heck of an effort. Bennett should take notes.

    -- On third-and-3 from the Rams 29, Avery broke loose up the right sideline and made an easy 26-yard catch and run. This is why the Rams spent a high second-rounder on this kid.

    -- On first-and-10 from the Ravens 45, Bulger went deep over the middle to Burton. Nice route, nice catch, 19-yard gain.

    -- On first-and-10 from the Ravens 26, Bulger pounded a sideline pass to Avery for nine more yards.

    -- On second-and-1 from the Ravens 17, Bulger gunned a sideline pass to Looker for 11 more yards,

    -- On first-and-goal from the Ravens 6, Bulger lobbed a fade pass toward Burton and got a pass interference call,

    -- On second-and-goal from the Ravens 1, Bulger rifled a pass through the hands of Avery. Gotta have those catches, son.

    -- On third-and-goal from the Ravens 1, Travis Minor released from the backfield and caught Bulger’s swing pass for a touchdown.

    Cha, and Ching!

    Rams Nation can quite complaining about Bulger, at least for the time being.

    :ramlogo:

  2. #2
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Re: Bulger 'looked like his old self'

    FIRST POSSESSION

    -- On first-and-10 from the Ravens 36, he put a home run ball on the money to Drew Bennett. But Bennett, getting jostled a bit at the end of the route, couldn’t quite pull the ball in. Bennett needed to do a better job finishing that route.

    -- On third-and-4 from the Ravens 30, Bulger threw a strike to the slanting Holt for nine yards and a first down.

    -- On first-and-10 from the Ravens 21, Bulger couldn’t connect with Bennett on an out pattern. A few minutes later, reporters were informed that Bennett had suffered a groin muscle strain. Well, of course he did.

    Do you get the idea that this whole Drew Bennett Signing isn’t going to pay big dividends? Geesh.


    Man i say put someone else in that # 2 spot and we have to take our losses on Bennett.
    :ramlogo:

  3. #3
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    Re: Bulger 'looked like his old self'

    Quote Originally Posted by eldfan View Post
    FIRST POSSESSION

    -- On first-and-10 from the Ravens 36, he put a home run ball on the money to Drew Bennett. But Bennett, getting jostled a bit at the end of the route, couldn’t quite pull the ball in. Bennett needed to do a better job finishing that route.

    -- On third-and-4 from the Ravens 30, Bulger threw a strike to the slanting Holt for nine yards and a first down.

    -- On first-and-10 from the Ravens 21, Bulger couldn’t connect with Bennett on an out pattern. A few minutes later, reporters were informed that Bennett had suffered a groin muscle strain. Well, of course he did.

    Do you get the idea that this whole Drew Bennett Signing isn’t going to pay big dividends? Geesh.


    Man i say put someone else in that # 2 spot and we have to take our losses on Bennett.
    The way Burton played last night, he looks like he WANTS that #2 spot. I'm with ya, cut your losses with Bennett and move on.

  4. #4
    moloch41 Guest

    Re: Bulger 'looked like his old self'

    I really think he'll be back to the Bulger of old sooner rather than later. It might take a few games and he might produce some less than memorable moments before then, but he will be back. I'm actually more pleasantly surprised by the play of Avery and Burton. Yeah, it was only one game against a lot of backups, but I think they might be keepers. And I agree that if they continue to progress and if Bennett keeps getting injured and dropping passes, you must give them a chance to step in his role. I have nothing personal against Bennett and I don't question his work ethic or ability, but playing the #2 wideout position for the Rams might be in his head now.

  5. #5
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Bulger 'looked like his old self'

    Quote Originally Posted by eldfan View Post
    -- On third-and-goal from the Ravens 1, Travis Minor released from the backfield and caught Bulger’s swing pass for a touchdown.
    I'd have to go back and rewatch, but this kind of looked like a similar play to the one we had last week where Bulger hit Brian Leonard on fourth down but Leonard couldn't get into the endzone.

  6. #6
    jkramsfan Guest

    Re: Bulger 'looked like his old self'

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    I'd have to go back and rewatch, but this kind of looked like a similar play to the one we had last week where Bulger hit Brian Leonard on fourth down but Leonard couldn't get into the endzone.
    run that play with Jackson and it's a touchdown,he will just take everyone into the endzone with him.

  7. #7
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    Re: Bulger 'looked like his old self'

    Its like watching a firecracker--lots of fizzle at first and a Bang at the end

    Now--there is hope the offense will be able to score. But looking over the Plays, I hope Al has something up his sleave that he is not showing yet. Basic plays and routes are good when your QB can deliver and the WR catch, which discribes most of the league. Consider the Rams schedual, a more open play book would be the key to victory.

    The last pre-season game hopefully will give a better picture of Bulger--more especially the O-line. However being able to move the ball against a team that prides its self on its defensive prowess is impressive

  8. #8
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    Re: Bulger 'looked like his old self'

    I don't think we'll see Bulger at all next week .... and I'll bet ole Al has LOTS up his sleeve.

  9. #9
    renrawtruk is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bulger 'looked like his old self'

    Actually, there was a lot of shifting on offense, the Rams were running the no-huddle, and typically had 3 or 4 receivers in the game, plus the RB going out, so not sure how much more "tricky" we need to get.

    After re-watching the game, I'm not quite as sold on Bulger being fully up to speed. I noticed that, aside from a couple shots downfield, Saunders kept 90% of Bulger's throws short. There were receivers running all over the place, but you could tell the plays were designed to send most receivers deep to clear out for the short routes.

    Not that there is anything wrong with that, to get his confidence going, but if we open it up a bit more, we'll need Bulger to step up and make the 20 yard crossing routes, etc... There were probably more spectacular catches by receivers than there were perfect throws by Bulger.

  10. #10
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    Re: Bulger 'looked like his old self'

    Its amazing what a little pass protection will do for a quarterback.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


  11. #11
    theodus69 Guest

    Re: Bulger 'looked like his old self'

    Well I hope Bulger is back to form so I can get off this dingy and back on the boat!!!!!!!!

  12. #12
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    Re: Bulger 'looked like his old self'

    Quote Originally Posted by renrawtruk View Post
    Actually, there was a lot of shifting on offense, the Rams were running the no-huddle, and typically had 3 or 4 receivers in the game, plus the RB going out, so not sure how much more "tricky" we need to get.

    After re-watching the game, I'm not quite as sold on Bulger being fully up to speed. I noticed that, aside from a couple shots downfield, Saunders kept 90% of Bulger's throws short. There were receivers running all over the place, but you could tell the plays were designed to send most receivers deep to clear out for the short routes.

    Not that there is anything wrong with that, to get his confidence going, but if we open it up a bit more, we'll need Bulger to step up and make the 20 yard crossing routes, etc... There were probably more spectacular catches by receivers than there were perfect throws by Bulger.

    How about the 4 perfect throws that were dropped? Hit bennett right in the rocks I mean hands. Hit Avery right in the hands in the endzone and he dropped it. Then on a slant threw it low and inside where only Avery could catch it and hit him right in the hands and he dropped it. Then on a deep out hit Burton in the hands and he dropped it. Bulger was on vs the Ravens and it's because he wasnt running for his life. Zip on the ball was very good and when the Ravens blitzed he picked them apart. I saw nothing wrong with Bulger or the gameplan last night. What I did notice is that as soon as Bennett left the game the offense ran smoothly. Purely conincidence? Time will tell.
    Just Fix It

  13. #13
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    Re: Bulger 'looked like his old self'

    Quote Originally Posted by renrawtruk View Post
    There were probably more spectacular catches by receivers than there were perfect throws by Bulger.
    I've gotta disagree here. Bulger was nearly perfect from what I saw. He had 7incompletions. 4 were flat out drops as rammiser noted, 1 was the single spectacular catch by Burton that should have been a completion, 1 was a pass to a non-hustling Bennett and 1 was a slight overthrow to Looker. I saw virtually nothing to complain about.

  14. #14
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    Re: Bulger 'looked like his old self'

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    I've gotta disagree here. Bulger was nearly perfect from what I saw. He had 7incompletions. 4 were flat out drops as rammiser noted, 1 was the single spectacular catch by Burton that should have been a completion, 1 was a pass to a non-hustling Bennett and 1 was a slight overthrow to Looker. I saw virtually nothing to complain about.
    Ah Mike you said the magic word, complain. Some people will always find something to complain about.
    Quote Originally Posted by ramsbruce
    Tre was running great against an awful NYG run defense. 5.8 YPC yet he only gets 13 carries. I can't wait until the Rams abandon you, Schotty.

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