Frerotte is Rams' insurance policy
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Gus Frerotte was signed to a three-year, $6.3 million contract in 2006 as an insurance policy in case of injury to quarterback Marc Bulger.
So far, it's a policy the Rams haven't had to cash in. Bulger started all 16 games for the first time in his career last season. In fact, he missed only three plays — after absorbing a hit by Bryant Young just before halftime of the Nov. 26 game against San Francisco.
Frerotte came in and threw three passes, one of which was good for a 27-yard completion, setting up a Jeff Wilkins field goal. Bulger returned for the second half, and Frerotte wasn't seen for the rest of the year.
"That's just one of the gifts I was given," Frerotte says. "To be able to come in cold off the
bench, and throw it and be right into the game."
During games, Frerotte goes through the play calls in his head, and then follows the plays as they unfold on the field. After each offensive series, he goes through the pictures taken from the press-box level.
"You're staying in the game mentally," Frerotte said. "You're knowing where to go with the ball. You're knowing what their defense is doing. So you're ahead of the game in that way."
Once the regular season starts, Frerotte gets only about 10 percent of the snaps with the starting offense. The rest of the practice repetitions go to the starter, Bulger. Frerotte receives additional work throwing for the scout team, but that's about it.
In large part because of his inactivity in 2006, Frerotte is getting more action this preseason than he did a year ago. Entering tonight's exhibition game in Oakland, Frerotte already has thrown 28 passes. He figures to play at least one quarter, and perhaps as much as a half, against the Raiders. So he should easily top last year's total of 32 preseason passes.
"I want to see Gus play more, just because he hasn't played for a year now," Rams coach Scott Linehan said. "Mainly just to get him ready in case we need to call upon him. It's a very comforting thing to know he's there, because I know that he could start for a lot of teams in this league."
Frerotte, 36, has started 79 times over a 14-year NFL career that has included stops in Washington, Detroit, Denver, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Miami, and now St. Louis. A Pro Bowler in 1996, Frerotte was a full-time starter in 2005 in Miami, with Linehan as his offensive coordinator. Frerotte was a backup in Minnesota in 2003 and 2004, when Linehan was the Viking's offensive coordinator.
As a free agent following the 2005 season, Frerotte could have waited for a better opportunity to start, and probably a one-year deal. But the relative security of a three-year contract, the chance to play for a familiar coach in Linehan, and the chance to play with skill position players such as Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Steven Jackson brought him to St. Louis.
Frerotte says family considerations also weighed heavily in his decision.
"It's nice to be in the same spot for over a year," Frerotte said. "You never know what's going to happen in the future. Maybe we can put down some roots and let our kids really develop some friendships and keep them in the same spot. It's hard for them. My daughter is in her eighth school right now. You hear about the Army kids (moving constantly). But if you don't have to do it, why do it?"
There's little doubt at Rams Park about Frerotte's ability to get the team through a few games if something happened to Bulger. Despite his advanced football age, Frerotte still has a strong arm. He has played well during the preseason as a Ram, with a 109.1 passer rating this August, and a 108.9 rating last preseason.
"Looking at our backup quarterback situation, we're in a pretty favorable position when you look across the league," Rams offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "It didn't look like Gus had to knock off a whole lot of rust (against Minnesota and San Diego). He just went out there and operated within the system, and has done a nice job running that second team."
Re: Frerotte is Rams' insurance policy
Alot of us have been questioning Linehan's signings and hirings of friends/players. Linehan's signing of a friend or player he has worked with in the past has been a blessing in disguise as far as the Frerotte signing is concerned.