By Howard Balzer
Friday, September 26, 2008
When Rams running back Steven Jackson had his weekly get-together with the media Thursday afternoon, he was asked if he was surprised by the decision of coach Scott Linehan to bench quarterback Marc Bulger and replace him with Trent Green.
Said Jackson, “I was surprised like you were; I am pretty sure you were. It is something that we can’t dwell on around here. Unfortunately, I am used to being in the lineup with a number of different guys, if it is in the offensive line or Marc missing some time or Torry (Holt) or some other guys. We haven’t had the best luck around here with guys staying together as a unit.”
When asked if the entire offense should be held accountable, Jackson said, “I think everyone, I think everyone in this organization. On Sunday, I understand the fans have to go on what we do offensively, as an offensive unit, but a lot goes into someone getting benched and it does not just fall on one person.”
That was the politically correct Steven Jackson talking. However, later that evening, Jackson let everyone know how he really feels during his weekly radio show on Rams Radio (103.3 FM).
Saying the benching was "the wrong decision," Jackson continued, "He's our general," and intimated it was crazy to pay Bulger "$60-something million" and then not play him. When asked if other players disagreed with the decision, Jackson said, "I'm not the only one who feels this way."
Jackson also said this creates a tough environment for when Bulger would play again and made it sound like he knew Bulger wouldn't want to. Post-Dispatch reporter Jim Thomas said sources told him "Bulger no longer wants to play for coach Scott Linehan."
This is what Rams football has become three games into the season. A disjointed mess where no one trusts anyone.
Wednesday morning an anonymous tip came to a local sports-talk station saying the Rams had released cornerback Fakhir Brown. The caller knew what he was talking about. The following morning, the same voice called at about the same time and said Linehan was trying to release or trade wide receiver Torry Holt because the two despise each other.
Normally, you scoff when crazy things like this are heard, but when this dysfunctional situation is analyzed, the realization hits you that anything is possible.
We're all waiting for someone, anyone, to exhibit some leadership at One Rams Way. Maybe they should rename the address, Rams One Way.
*Jackson had a cryptic, 10-word answer when asked Thursday whether he feels his run reads and conditioning are OK after missing 27 days of training camp. Keep in mind, it was offensive coordinator Al Saunders that said Monday, "Steven's getting his running game legs back a little bit. I think when he looked at the film, there were about four or five runs that he kind of salivated at — he just didn't press the hole quite enough."
Jackson's answer? “I played all three games so I think I'm fine.”
Hey, cornerback Tye Hill said the secondary was fine after the game against the Giants.
*Are the Bills trying to convince themselves that the Rams aren't a team to be taken lightly? That seemed to be the case reading some of their comments this week.
Said wide receiver Lee Evans, who is averaging 20.3 yards per reception this season, “You look at the stats and then you look at them on film and you can’t see that (a team that has been outscored 116-29). They have some guys on defense who can really fly around. They’ve been right there a number of times. They just haven’t been able to make a play.”
Coach Dick Jauron insisted on telling his team about the talent the Rams exhibit on film. Said fullback Darian Barnes, “If you watch them on film, they still play really hard. There’s a lot of talent there. It’s the same with any team. If you let a team in the game, they’re going to play and come at you with momentum. You can’t take any 0-3 team lightly.
“The Giants game they were with them right to the wire, and they let it go in the fourth quarter. They haven’t been blown out of these games the way it looks. The scores don’t tell the whole story. If you watch the film that’s not the case.”
The Jets play Arizona Sunday, and Jets quarterback Brett Favre was asked about training camp in 1995 when Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner was an undrafted free agent. Said Favre, "It was a long time ago. He was just a guy. Obviously, he's a lot different now. The guy has played phenomenal. I've played against him numerous times. I have a lot of respect for him. I didn't know much about him at the time. There are a lot of guys that come and go that just for whatever reason have never panned out. He's one of those guys that when he got the opportunity, he made the most of it. That's an understatement."
Favre did recall one seminal moment from that summer. Favre said, "I don't know if Kurt remembers when (Steve) Mariucci was our quarterbacks coach. He asked him to go in on a particular play. It was camp. (Warner) said, 'No, I'm not going in.' He wasn't ready. In fact, when Steve was here a couple weeks ago, we were doing an interview, laughing about that and how far he has come. He's not afraid to go in now.