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  1. #1
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    Losses obscure Bulger's success

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    09/30/2004


    With 36 seconds to play, the Rams faced a third and four from the New Orleans 19, trailing 22-17. The Saints dropped seven defenders in coverage. Four spread out across the 14, just behind the first-down line, with three more stationed deep.

    After the ball was snapped, quarterback Marc Bulger looked right. He saw Torry Holt running a deep corner route into double coverage. Shaun McDonald ran a sideline route underneath and was in front of his defender at the 13. But there was no throwing lane, particularly with Saints defensive end Charles Grant pushing offensive tackle Grant Williams back into the pocket. Bulger pumped once, then took off running.

    "I didn't specifically come up to the line looking to run," Bulger said. "The middle of the field opened up, and they had Torry covered, and they had the second guy (McDonald) covered."

    So off he went. Grant dived at Bulger's heels, missing, at the 15. As Bulger closed in on the goal line, trailing Rams offensive linemen knew what was about to happen. Left tackle Orlando Pace raised his right arm in celebration. Then center Andy McCollum signaled touchdown.

    Just to make sure, wide receiver Isaac Bruce peeled back and plastered pursuing Saints cornerback Fred Thomas at the two. An instant later, Bulger was in the end zone, giving the Rams the lead in dramatic fashion.

    "Marc played like a champion," wide receiver Dane Looker said afterward. "It just shows you what he's made of on that run to get in the end zone. A lot of quarterbacks might've taken a slide, but he wanted to win this game and he made a great play."

    Had the Rams been able to protect a 25-22 lead in the final 28 seconds of regulation, Bulger's dramatic dash might have dominated the town's football talk this week and added to his credentials as a starter.

    "Marc's always had the moniker, if you will, of being a guy that will do whatever it takes to win that game in the end," coach Mike Martz said. "Making a great throw, moving around, scrambling. ... Having the presence of mind to do that is very important. He's very quiet, but he's very, very competitive and tough. A lot like Isaac."

    Of course, this time, the Rams didn't hold the lead. The Saints won in overtime 28-25 and Bulger's TD run quickly became an afterthought. In a sense, it was a microcosm of his season. Because lost in the disappointment of a 1-2 start for the Rams has been impressive play by Bulger at quarterback.

    Bulger ranks first in the NFL in completions (79), third in passing yards (915), fourth in completion percentage (69.3), and seventh in passer rating (94.7).

    "He's playing exceptionally well," Martz said. "I think he really did a great job in terms of responding to the challenge."

    The challenge was a game plan against New Orleans that placed a heavy emphasis on the passing game.

    "I thought he was outstanding," Martz said. "His decisions. Checking the ball down. Taking off at the end of the game and getting the ball into the end zone. ... He's getting better and better and better."

    The odd thing about the New Orleans game and the prior loss to Atlanta is that the Rams lost even though Bulger had very high passer ratings: 102.2 against the Falcons and 93.8 against the Saints.

    "Some of the ratings, you can look at them and they get blown out of proportion," Bulger said. "If you're on the one-yard line and you keep throwing touchdowns, you might have a good rating but didn't play good the rest of the game. So I don't put much stock in the ratings."

    The passer rating is considered one of the truest indicators of a team's success, along with takeaway/giveaway ratio and 100-yard rushers. Why? Because a high rating generally indicates more TD passes than interceptions, a high completion percentage, and a high average gain per attempt.

    The results certainly bear that out for the Rams. Entering this season, the Rams were 54-8 since the move to St. Louis when their starting quarterback had a passer rating of 90 or better.

    Even in the Dark Ages of "St. Louis" Rams football, the four years prior to the 1999 Super Bowl season, the club was 11-5 when its quarterback had a 90-plus rating, and 11-37 when he didn't.

    Beginning in '99, the Rams were 43-3 in games with a 90-plus rating by the starting QB. All of which makes the back-to-back losses this season particularly puzzling.

    According to the Elias Sports Bureau, on only two occasions last season did a team lose back-to-back games when its quarterback had a 90-plus rating in both games:

    Green Bay's Brett Favre on Oct. 12 (Kansas City) and Oct. 19 (Rams).

    Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper on Nov. 2 (Green Bay) and Nov. 9 (San Diego).

    So the short answer to what has happened to the Rams so far this season? The team has wasted two pretty good performances by Bulger because of deficiencies in other areas.

    "It's frustrating for everyone," Bulger said. "If I was playing poorly, I'd be upset, but as long as we were winning it wouldn't matter. I've always said all that matters is our record."


  2. #2
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    Re: Losses obscure Bulger's success

    I just wonder if Marc can stay healthy the season making runs and taking sacks like he has...He was up slow on several plays last week. At some point it seems like the wear and tear will take it's toll.

  3. #3
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    Re: Losses obscure Bulger's success

    It probably will. It does to every QB in the league at one time or another.

  4. #4
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    Re: Losses obscure Bulger's success

    From a Fantasy site I get bulletins from:

    http://www.footballdiehards.com/00update~UID~1411.CFM

    BULGER FRUSTRATED, BUT RACKING UP SERIOUS TOTALS...

    Written By TFL Report Editor Bob Harris | Posted Friday October 1, 2004 @ 00:42 PT

    In an article published Thursday, Belleville News-Democrat staffer Norm Sanders reminded readers that Marc Bulger threw a career-high 49 times in last Sunday's overtime loss to New Orleans, finishing over the 300-yard mark for the seventh time. He is 19-6 in 25 career starts -- fifth-best in the NFL since 1970 -- but Bulger is not overly pleased with his performance because of the Rams' 1-2 record.

    "It's frustrating for everyone," said Bulger, who is 79-of-114 passing (69.3 percent) for 915 yards, three touchdowns and a 94.7 quarterback rating. "If I was playing poorly, I'd be upset, but as long as we were winning, it wouldn't matter. I've always said that all that matters is the record. "I don't put too much stock in the (quarterback) ratings."

    The 26-year-old Bulger ranks first among NFL quarterbacks in completions and is second in attempts, third in passing yards and fourth in completion percentage.

    Through three games, the Rams have thrown the ball 114 times and called 60 running plays.

    Against New Orleans, which had allowed 349 yards rushing in its first two games, the Rams had only 15 rushes and 49 passes.

    "I think everyone would like to see us run it more -- the players and I'm sure [head coach Mike] Martz, too," Bulger said. "We just have an aggressive style, and if the pass is all that's going for us, that's what we're going to stick with."

    As the debate over a balanced offense continues, Bulger isn't taking a side. He will do "whatever it takes to win, whether we run it every down or we throw it every down. As long as we win, that's all we care about in here."

    Martz is pleased with Bulger's progress.

    "I think he's playing exceptionally well," Martz said. "He's getting better and better and better, I'm very pleased with him.

    "He's very quiet, but he's very, very competitive and tough. A lot like Isaac [Bruce]."

    Sanders went on to note that opposing defenses have been trying to force receivers Torry Holt and Bruce away from the middle -- and those long gains after the catch on crossing and fly patterns.

    Bruce still leads the NFL with 25 receptions for 348 yards, going over the 100-yard mark in three consecutive games for the first time since 1995.

    "A lot of teams have been playing us with a lot of inside leverage, which means we're going to throw a lot of 'out' patterns," Bulger explained. "The defense dictates a lot of that, but you always want to go forward. Maybe with all the success we've had outside, we'll start throwing the ball inside."

    The return of speedy wideout Kevin Curtis gives the Rams an impressive receiver arsenal that includes Bruce, Holt, Dane Looker, Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald.

    "Until we're scoring every possession. ... That's our goal," said Bulger. "Whether you can get there or not, who knows? I know that we are making a lot of mistakes and we've got to correct that, but it seems to be the only thing holding us back right now."

    Hard not to like a team with such noble goals. But I still think they'll need to run the ball more effectively to get the most out of all their drives.
    Last edited by thoey; -10-01-2004 at 03:18 PM.
    This space for rent...

  5. #5
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    Re: Losses obscure Bulger's success

    The toll it will take, Bulger ( at least on my tv) looks to thin to be taking all those hits.Right now this team just doesn't look good! May be a walk in the park against the 9ers will boost the moral! :ramlogo:
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

  6. #6
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    Re: Losses obscure Bulger's success

    Just thoughts of self-preservation should have been enough motivation for MB to have bulked up during workouts. He needs to replace his personal trainer if he has one because he does not have the natural physique to survive many hits like the one in the endzone.

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    Re: Losses obscure Bulger's success

    Bulger is looking good this year, but apparently his success is not enough to make the Rams win the games.

    He is making my fantasy team look real good right now. Thanks Marc.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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