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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Gordon: Can Bulger flourish under Linehan?

    BY JEFF GORDON
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    09/15/2006

    Rams quarterback Marc Bulger remains a work in progress this season. It seems odd to type those words, but it is true.

    Bulger flourished in Mike Martz’s offense. He mastered it as an understudy to Kurt Warner, then threw the ball with uncanny precision when he got his opportunity to play.

    He quickly developed into a poised and proven NFL quarterback, one of the most reliable passers in the sport.

    But now Bulger is learning a new offense. It is not a dramatic departure from the Air Martz scheme, but there are plenty of differences nonetheless. The terminology is new and the quarterback has responsibilities and opportunities that didn’t exist under Mad Mike.

    The first offensive unit barely played as a group during the preseason. Coach Scott Linehan insisted he saw good things during practice, but practice is just that. The speed of real games can’t be duplicated against the scout team.

    So when the Rams opened at home against the strong Denver defense, we weren’t totally surprised that their offense failed to score a touchdown.

    Sure, the unit made some plays between the 20s when it had to. And, no, Bulger didn’t suffer any Tony Banks Moments.

    He didn’t fumble a snap or fire the ball into coverage. Bulger never hurt his team with a mental or physical mistake during the 18-10 victory.

    But Bulger didn’t lead a touchdown drive, either, so his performance will be a focal point when the Rams play the ***** in San Francisco on Sunday. He has to lead this team into the end zone, often, or this team won’t contend for a playoff berth.

    “There were opportunities,” Bulger said. “We’re trying not to panic, we have to be patient, and it’s a new system. There were plays we made. I missed some. It’s a new system. It’s going to take some time. Fortunately, our defense stepped it up. I think it will come along eventually, but it’s going to be a little bit tougher than we anticipated.”

    The growing pains can be especially acute in the red zone, because there is less room to work. Timing and precision are paramount. The Rams lacked both against the Broncos.

    “Everything gets magnified down there,” Bulger said. “It’s quicker. With the new system, I think things happen in the red zone quicker and maybe that’s why I’m not there yet. Maybe it’s the system, maybe not. We’ll get there.”

    We’ve grown accustomed to watching Bulger play pitch-and-catch with Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. Last Sunday, he was unable to find that rhythm against the Broncos. He missed some throws, by a lot, and also missed some of his reads when receivers broke free.

    Linehan preferred to dwell on the positive this week, lauding Bulger for managing the game well and not turning the ball over.
    “You can lose a game on offense,” Linehan said. “That’s one thing. If you watch the (NFL) highlights on Sunday night, you sit there and go ‘Well, I’m not 100 percent pleased with the way things went today, but I’m glad we didn’t do that.’ That’s what you’ve got to tell yourself.”

    But solid “game management” is what you would expect from, say, Brian Griese or Trent Dilfer. Bulger replaced a two-time MVP, Kurt Warner, who is still racking up 300-yard performances. Marc has been the Pro Bowl MVP himself.

    He has tremendous weapons at his disposal. He has great rapport with his veteran receiving corps. He has strong running backs and an upgraded tight end corps.

    So it is time to score some points.

    “Believe me, I’m with you,” Bulger said. “I’m used to having 300-yard games. It’ll happen. We’ve got the most confidence in coach Linehan. He’s done it before. He’s installing things with a purpose to bring us along.

    “We’ve all been in the same system for six years. It’s different for us. We’re doing some things well, but obviously we’re struggling a little bit in the red zone, but I think in time we’ll get better.”

    That “time” better come Sunday -– or the Rams will pay for their offensive inefficiency.


  2. #2
    Drew4EverRams's Avatar
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    Re: Gordon: Can Bulger flourish under Linehan?

    i think Bulger`s performance was a mixture of rustiness and being conservative against a very good D,had he played the style of game he played under martz we would have more than likely have had a fair few turnovers and lost last sunday IMHO!

    i have a lot of faith in marc and believe he will have plenty of TD`s at the end of the season,dont forget red zone TD`s was a huge problem under martz,once our new TE`s get more involved we will be just fine!

  3. #3
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: Gordon: Can Bulger flourish under Linehan?

    The "Bulger Problem" stories have officially supplanted the "Jackson Problem" stories.

  4. #4
    Fat Pang's Avatar
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    Re: Gordon: Can Bulger flourish under Linehan?

    Whilst I think it's perfectly okay to mention that we had an issue punching it last game, I do think that some of this comment is stretching credulity awfully thin.

    On the evidence of one game, and a game that we won at that, we are asked to question whether Bulger can perform under Linehan. How on Earth, can anyone seriously ask that question on the basis of ONE game?

    This is the kind of question you might ask at the end of a season, not at the start of a season where the HC and OC are new, there are new personnel and packages and you've just won your home opener against good opposition.

    The article itself is pretty tame, but that headline is a bit previous.

    Maybe it's just me, but I don't get it. I really don't get it.

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