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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Linehan Believes Bulger is Among the Best

    Sunday, July 30, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    In the conversation of the league’s best quarterbacks, the names Brady, Manning and McNabb usually come to mind first. But normally as that discussion evolves, one name seems to continually be left out altogether, despite what the numbers might suggest.

    Outside of St. Louis anyway, quarterback Marc Bulger might be one of the most underappreciated signal callers or players in the league. At least, that’s how first-year head coach Scott Linehan sees it.

    “I haven’t really addressed this or been asked that question, but Marc’s a guy who’s shown me that he’s taken his game to a new level with embracing our system, which is the new Rams system,” Linehan said. “I don’t know what it is about him, maybe because he’s not 6’5”, but that guy is the best kept secret in the NFL in my opinion. People don’t really talk about this guy. I think this guy is going to have a great year. Not just statistically, just as a guy who’s going to take his game to a new level, leader of the team and the offense and just playing winning football for us.”

    Linehan’s optimism on Bulger is founded in legitimate statistical roots and that’s putting aside what he has seen from Bulger in organized team activities, minicamps and what’s happened thus far in training camp.

    In five NFL season, Bulger has completed 65 percent of his passing attempts for 11,932 yards and 71 touchdowns for a passer rating of 90.6. That rating is good for sixth all-time in league history. In addition, Bulger is tied with Dan Marino as the second-fastest quarterback to reach 10,000 passing yards (38 games) and posted the second-most passing yards in his first 40 NFL games.

    Still, Bulger continues to fly under the radar in the NFL world. Perhaps because he was posting those numbers in Mike Martz’s high-octane passing game or because he is just 6’3 and 215 pounds and doesn’t scramble like a Michael Vick.
    Linehan has been around plenty of quarterbacks that have the size and rocket arm often brought up in the conversations of the best signal callers in the league. He helped former Vikings’ quarterback Daunte Culpepper become a superstar in Minnesota.

    So, how does his new protégé compare to his old one?

    “I don’t compare players, but I would say that Marc and Daunte Culpepper are the two most accurate quarterbacks I’ve been around,” Linehan said. “If you compare their statistical numbers in terms of (completion) percentage, that will probably show true in the last five or six years. If you actually looked at percentages, and I’m not sure if I’m making an accurate statement, but I know what Marc’s completion percentage was over the last three or four years and I was pretty familiar with where Daunte was, those two guys have an uncanny knack for hitting guys in the right place. His accuracy is different. Daunte’s a bigger, strong arm guy. Marc’s certainly got a very good arm, but he just puts it in the right place and that has to be frustrating for the defense.”

    In fact, Culpepper’s completion percentage is 64.4 percent, not far off Bulger’s number and he boasts a rating of 91.5, slightly above Bulger’s. While those numbers are close, there is at least one reputable source that believes Bulger is the more accurate of the two and the most accurate quarterback in the league, at least in 2005.

    KC Joyner, of ESPN.com, developed a system of rating the most accurate quarterbacks based on the amount of balls thrown in a receiver’s “catching window.” Based on his study, Bulger was the most accurate of all quarterbacks despite ranking fourth in percentage of deep passes thrown and sixth in medium passes thrown. On such attempts, Bulger was accurate almost 90 percent of the time.

    For those that claim Bulger was a product of Martz’s system, those numbers are certainly convincing. Now, Bulger will get an opportunity to prove that the system doesn’t matter and he truly is one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
    Bulger has worked overtime in the offseason to learn the nuances of Linehan’s offense while asserting himself as a leader of the offense and putting aside rumors of the team making a move for a different quarterback.

    So far in training camp, Bulger has adapted well to the new system as Linehan estimates Bulger is completing about 75 to 80 percent of his passes in five practices. But Bulger knows he isn’t quite ready to perform at the highest level.

    “I'm able to operate it in practice and I could definitely play a game,” Bulger said. “But there's a difference between being able to play and being able to play at the level you want to and the level you need to be like you were in the past. Could I play a game right now? Yeah. Would I help us win like I want to? No.”

    Under Martz, Bulger had constant supervision and critiques coming from the head coach. That has changed, but only slightly as Linehan is never far away from his quarterback during practice. Bulger is adjusting to that change, too.

    “As far as footwork and things like that, they've pretty much left me alone,” Bulger said. “I've stuck to what I've been doing. I try to watch on film the things I get sloppy with that coach Martz would bring up to me instantly. I think it's more on me now but six to seven years in now I know when I need to start correcting things, or if things aren't going well.”

    One initiative Linehan took soon after his hiring was making the protection of Bulger a priority. While the wide-open passing game of the previous regime helped Bulger put up some huge numbers, it also contributed directly to a pair of shoulder injuries that have cost him all or part of 13 games in the past two seasons.

    The injuries cost him what could have been his best season in 2005. At the time of his first shoulder injury, Oct. 17 at Indianapolis, Bulger was in the midst of his best performance of the year, torching the undefeated Colts for a perfect rating in the first quarter.

    A protection breakdown resulted in another injury to his right (throwing) shoulder and put him back on the shelf for about three weeks. He re-injured the shoulder after another protection breakdown on Nov. 20 against Arizona, this time ending his season.

    Bulger finished the year with 2,297 yards and 14 touchdowns in just eight games, two of which he didn’t get to complete. With that in mind, expect more of a commitment to protecting Bulger this season.

    That commitment has been evident early in camp as the Rams are using a lot of two tight end sets and working diligently in pass rush drills on handling stunts and blitzes.

    “I think everyone emphasizes protection,” Bulger said. “No one wants to get your quarterback killed.

    “But it's going to be more play calling, I think. Obviously we're going to put emphasis, but you can go more quick passes; you can run the ball more; you can pick your spots - there's just a lot of ways you can do it.”

    Healthy and ready to roll, the usually quiet and reserved Bulger has made a strong impression on his teammates early in camp by asserting himself more vocally and letting everyone know who is in charge on the field.

    That could pan out well for an offense that has a reputation for big plays, but has lacked consistency in recent seasons. It could also mean more freedom to audible at the line of scrimmage for Bulger, who has never had such power.

    “(He has) command in the huddle,” receiver Isaac Bruce said. “You pretty much know it’s his huddle and he knows every route, every protection. He’s a complete leader.”


  2. #2
    dgr828's Avatar
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    Re: Linehan Believes Bulger is Among the Best

    A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE FROM THE HEAD COACH IS A GOOD THING FOR MARC BULGER. SOUNDS LIKE MARC IS READY TO BECOME MORE OF A FIELD GENERAL, SANS A DICTATOR (M. MARTZ), FREE TO DISPLAY MORE CONTROL OVER THE OFFFENSE. NO DOUBT THE PLAY CALLING CAN BE IMPROVED, BUT IN BULGER'S SITUATION IT'S ALL ABOUT PROTECTION, PROTECTION, PROTECTION!
    WITH ALL THE WEAPONS AT HIS DISPOSAL (BRUCE, HOLT, JACKSON, McDONALD, CURTIS, TIGHTENDS....), A MORE EXPERIENCED AND IMPROVING OFFENSIVE LINE AND A FORMER OC FOR HEAD COACH (SCOTT LINEHAN) HELPING WITH THE PLAY CALLING, SHOULD INDEED KEEP MARC BULGER AMONG THE BEST.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  3. #3
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Linehan Believes Bulger is Among the Best

    I almost hate to apply the word, but every season there are favorites that don't live up to preseason predictions. Whether it be injuries, age, or premier players that just have off seasons. On the other hand there is also the surprise team that is never predicted accurately. After reading, watching and hearing about this seasons predictions, I had been convinced that the Rams are about a year away. However after reading this thread combined with my confidence in Linehan and Haslett I must apply the word to our Rams.

    " CINDERELLA "

    Let us fly under the radar........


    :ramlogo:

  4. #4
    rams#1 Guest

    Re: Linehan Believes Bulger is Among the Best

    just like in 1999, all we have to do is run the ball more. don't turn the ball over, and play hard nose defense. If we do that then watch out, as for marc bulger, he has always been a good Quarterback, but after reading that article I realized that he was underappreciated, by us fans, and mostly the freakin experts.

  5. #5
    Lamb Of God Guest

    Re: Linehan Believes Bulger is Among the Best

    Bulger may never put up the big touchdown seasons like Manning, or may not have the flash and pizzaz of Mike Vick, but there are few (if any) QB in the NFL more consistent than Bulger.

    With him, barring injuries, you know you're going to get at worst 3,000 yards and 20 TD.

    I think these numbers will only go UP in Scott Linehan's pass friendly system, and Bulger may be primed for his best season yet.

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