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Bulger's Best Season Lands Him in Hawaii
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
By Nick Wagoner
It was a season of firsts for Marc Bulger.
In 2006, Bulger completed a full, 16-game schedule as he remained healthy for the first time since becoming the Rams’ starting quarterback in 2002. Along the way, Bulger exerted himself as a vocal leader for by asking for more from certain members of the offense after a loss to Arizona.
And, for the first time, Bulger was selected by his peers around the league as a Pro Bowler.
Statistically, there’s little doubt that Bulger enjoyed the finest year of his six-season career. He put up personal bests in completions (370), attempts (588), touchdowns (24), interceptions (eight) and yards (4,301). It didn’t hurt that he was able to start and finish all 16 games for the first time.
For those numeric means, Bulger will be playing in his second Pro Bowl (first time selected) this weekend.
“I think it's my most complete year," Bulger said. “But we didn't win, so I'll have to go back and evaluate where I could've done better ... just see where I could help us improve so we can get to the next step.”
The next step for Bulger involves a trip to Hawaii, a place with which Bulger is quite familiar. He first went to the Pro Bowl after the 2003 season as an alternate, joining the NFC squad after an injury sidelined another quarterback. Bulger went on to earn most-valuable-player honors in that game, but didn’t return in the following seasons because of shoulder injuries.
Although Bulger, who is scheduled for free agency following the 2007 season, had some rough moments in the early going with new coach Scott Linehan, he grew more familiar with the offense as the season went on and was clearly comfortable by the time the year ended.
“It’s a no-brainer that we want Marc to be our quarterback as long as Marc wants to play quarterback in this league,” Linehan said. “We’re doing it in logical phases and we’re going to be getting to it here pretty quickly.”
Aside from simple statistical measures, Bulger made strides in another area that had long been a question mark. The soft-spoken Bulger has always led by example.
After a 34-20 loss to Arizona that dropped the Rams to 5-7, Bulger voiced his displeasure with the efforts of certain members of the offense. Coming from Bulger, the team clearly took heed with what the quarterback had to say.
“It got my attention,” receiver Torry Holt said. “Since he said that, I think I played better in certain areas. Looking back on when that was said, I think everybody felt his comments and made something happen. It’s one thing to feel it and hear it, but to apply it was the obvious reason why we finished 8-8. It was good on Marc’s part because that’s what leaders do.”
Indeed. After losing to NFC champion Chicago the following week, the Rams clearly played their best football of the season. St. Louis went 3-0 the rest of the way to finish 8-8.
Bulger doesn’t want to take credit for the turnaround, but the proof was clearly in the record.
“I didn't do it for that exact reason, but I think some guys did wake up a little bit,” Bulger said. “Just the fact that some guys played harder, I think, shows you a little something.”
Adding the element of leadership to his already solid foundation of performance has made Bulger one of the league’s best and most underrated quarterbacks. Holt says Bulger and running back Steven Jackson were the two main reasons the Rams were able to keep it together when things started to go south.
“He’s been great as far as his touchdowns, control of the ball, his interceptions are down. I think it’s been a fantastic year for him and Steven,” Holt said. “I just told them I am very proud of those two guys. They definitely carried us this year.”
When the Rams hired Linehan and offensive coordinator Greg Olson, that duo made it clear that keeping Bulger healthy and upright was one of the top priorities. In the end Bulger was sacked as much as any of the previous years, but says he was hit less on the whole.
With Bulger taking his place among the league’s elite and the strong finish the team put together, he believes this season was a step in the right direction. A step that he thinks could lead to his whole team playing in a bowl in February next year, one that doesn’t take place in Hawaii.
“I did make it through the season without injury,” Bulger said. “So that was good. I do think we have the core guys here and we have a Super Bowl back that can run the ball and win games for you.
“We have the receivers, the offensive line is starting to gel, and the depth is good. Being 8-8 and missing the playoffs isn’t how we wanted to end but I think we are going to be a better team and I like where we are headed.”
With Bulger leading the way, that direction seems to be up.
-02-07-2007 #3Stlskaterprep696 Guest
Re: Bulger's Best Season Lands Him in Hawaii
For sure Bulger's best year and definately a pro bowl year his completion percentage was 62.9 comparable to peyton mannings 65.0 but when it comes to being sacks not a comparison at all Bulger was sacked for a new rams record 49 times and peyton only sacked 14 times wow thats amazing o ya and one less int thrown and atleast 30 more attempts.... RAMS GONNA WIN NEXT SUPERBOWL!!!!!
Re: Bulger's Best Season Lands Him in Hawaii
Aside from seeing Bulger and Jackson play, I really have no desire to watch the Pro bowl. And why is it on Saturday this year? I have work to do that day.JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS
"HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"Adm. William "Bull" Halsey