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  • Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special

    From Charlotte Gazette

    June 06, 2004
    Mitch Vingle

    Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special


    ST. LOUIS RAMS head coach Mike Martz flew into Charleston Friday for a good cause.

    In order to help the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, he attended a black-tie gala at the Civic Center.

    But even before putting on his tux, Martz had a tie to West Virginia. A strong one, in fact, in Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, the former WVU standout. And it didn’t take but a few minutes after landing at Yeager Airport for the subject to be broached.


    Which brought a smile to Martz’s face.

    “We just love the guy,’’ said the coach. “He’s like the players’ little brother. He’s just so humble. You can’t help but like him.’’

    Martz and the Rams more than like Bulger, though. They signed him to a four-year, $19.1 million contract in April — and released two-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner, who led the team to two Super Bowls.

    Of course, there’s little to dislike about Bulger. The guy is 18-4 as the Rams’ regular-season starter. But even Martz admits the rise of the QB is storybook. Bulger was cut by the New Orleans Saints before being plucked by the Rams from the Atlanta Falcons’ roster.

    “I remember the first time I saw ,’’ Martz said. “I was breaking down tape. I was watching him and he didn’t have a real good senior year , but the guy who was running our college scouting at the time — John Becker — said, ‘I really like this guy.’ He said, ‘Don’t look at his senior tape. Go back and look at his junior season.’ ’’

    So the coach did.

    “I went back and looked at his junior tape — and was just astounded,’’ Martz said. “I’d never seen anybody with that quick of a delivery before. I mean, he was like Marino. He had that Marino quickness of getting the ball out of there.



    “He was accurate and had plenty of arm strength, but he was injured and in a new system his senior year so things didn’t go well.

    “We were fine, obviously,’’ the coach continued. “We had Kurt and didn’t feel our quarterback situation was a real big need. So we did what we call a ‘red tag.’ We put a ‘tag’ on him. We decided to follow him through his career, and if he would come up again, then we’d decide if we wanted to bring him in.’’

    Now, he’s a Rams team captain along with stars Marshall Faulk and Aeneas Williams. Sure, Bulger threw 22 interceptions last season, but he finished second in the NFL in completions. He also earned a Pro Bowl berth and was named the game’s MVP.

    Martz claims it didn’t take long to realize Bulger was special.

    “First series in his very first start in 2002,’’ said the coach. “We were playing the Oakland Raiders. We were coming off the Super Bowl loss and were 0-5. Kurt was struggling, then he broke his thumb. Marc started that week. Jamie Martin had been hurt the week before.

    “Well, the Raiders were 4-0. They led the league in offense and defense. We stopped them on their first drive on our 2-yard line. They went for it on fourth down. Marc then took us 98 yards on about five plays for a touchdown.’’

    The coach still shakes his head when he thinks of Bulger’s first completion, a 30-yard out to a double-covered Isaac Bruce.

    “Marc had about a 2-yard window and stuck it right in there,’’ Martz said. “I thought, ‘I don’t know too many guys who can do that.’ ’’

    Martz, though, eventually went back to Warner — until the QB fumbled six times in last year’s season opener against the New York Giants. Bulger has been the man since, leading to the April signing and Warner’s recent ouster.

    “Very difficult decision,’’ Martz said. “But if I can’t make those decisions, I shouldn’t have this job. That’s what I get paid to do.’’


    Martz said Bulger is “more than talented,’’ calling him “astounding’’ in spring practices this past week.

    And remember how the coach compared Bulger’s release to Marino? Well, you’ll never guess to whom he compares the player’s personality.

    “Like a Joe Montana,’’ Martz said. “That’s what makes him so appealing to the other players. He doesn’t see himself like this. Also, he doesn’t want attention. He doesn’t want a TV show. He just wants to go play ball.’’

    Pretty heady stuff for a skinny kid who left WVU without much fanfare.

    “Who’s to say, right?’’ Martz asked. “I never thought I’d be an NFL coach. I just wanted to be a high school football coach. But opportunities come up, and he’s one who took advantage.’’



    Martz spoke on behalf of the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, which specializes in Alzheimer’s disease and is named after Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s mother, who battled the disease for nearly a decade.

    Martz said he visited Charleston because of a call from the NFL. Apparently, Sen. Rockefeller and NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue are tight.

    But the cause is also dear to Martz. His mother suffered from the disease.

    “For anybody who has ever had a loved one suffer from Alzheimer’s — particularly the primary care-giver — they know it can be devastating,’’ said the coach. “It’s devastating to watch someone you love so much — someone who was always so sharp, vibrant and full of life — be robbed of years she should really enjoy. It’s a tragedy.’’

  • #2
    Re: Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special

    The coach still shakes his head when he thinks of Bulger’s first completion, a 30-yard out to a double-covered Isaac Bruce.
    Why exactly is this a good thing? This was Bulger's problem all of last year. If you keep making a bad/no read and throwing into double coverage you're going to lead the league in interceptions.

    And maybe I just don't see it the same way as everyone else, but why all the candy coated compliments for Bulger? I mean, leading the league in completions? So what! If you throw the ball a LOT then you're bound to have completions. Talk about searching for something to praise him for. And now he's being mentioned in the same breath as Dan Marino and Joe Montana? It's starting to make me sick. Marc Bulger isn't even in the same country as Joe Montana and Dan Marino. We're talking about a guy who didn't even finish in the top 10 in qb rating, in a down year for qb's statistically, being comparable to Dan Marino and Joe Montana?

    I know, I know, Martz wasn't comparing their playing abilities per se, but why even mention hall of famers when you're talking about "your guy" unless you're trying to send some kind of message. I mean, why not say Bulger is very much like Wade Wilson in how the team really likes him?

    I just don't understand the double standard in Rams Nation. How can a guy who HAS accomplished something be run out of town for committing turnovers and his replacement be lauded as Dan Marino and Joe Montana for leading the league in interceptions...in 15 games?

    “We just love the guy,’’ said the coach. “He’s like the players’ little brother. He’s just so humble. You can’t help but like him.’’
    I can't think of any good/great qb's that were viewed as "little brothers" in the team's eyes. That is actually the perception that I have had of Bulger too, but the team isn't going to keep that perception for long, especially after a couple of losses. The qb has to be a leader and if the team thinks of him as an underling, I don't see how that can be a good thing. Were Marino and Montana (or Favre, Aikman, Young, Vick, Brady, etc., etc.) thought of as humble little brothers that had to be protected? Super Bowl teams are led by qb's, not coddling them.

    John Becker — said, ‘I really like this guy.’ He said, ‘Don’t look at his senior tape. Go back and look at his junior season.’ ’’
    I guess that doesn't apply to certain other qb's that used to be on the roster. Couldn't it just as easily have been said: "don't look at 2002, go back and look at 2001. He was dealing with an injury in 2002"?

    Again, it's all of the double standards and fluff being forced down my throat by the Rams that's annoying. There's nothing personal about Bulger I just want them to stop "telling" me how great he is and let him prove it on the field. I can judge for myself if he's actually great or not.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special

      Martz has always been like that, moklerman. He always praises his QBs. Remember before the start of last year how much he was praising KW? That sure got KW far, didn't it; one game and he canned him.
      Let's see what happens this year with Martz and Bulger.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special

        Maybe he's just trying to express some optimism.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special

          Optimism I can handle but "we LOVE him", "he's MORE than talented", comparing him to Marino and Montana, "he's something special", I mean c'mon, that's a little more than coach speak to me. I don't remember Martz going that overboard before. I know he's generally talking up the players but it's usually within the boundry of their own ability. "Marshall looks as good as he ever has" or something like that. Martz's praise of Bulger is almost surreal. He seems like he's trying way too hard to talk us all into something that we're not buying.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special

            I assume that when you say "we" you mean you and the voices in your head?

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special

              Originally posted by moklerman
              Why exactly is this a good thing? This was Bulger's problem all of last year. If you keep making a bad/no read and throwing into double coverage you're going to lead the league in interceptions.
              It's good because it shows he's able to lace the ball in there. Are you telling me all of Kurt Warner's throws were in single man coverage? Is it not comforting to know that on a 30-yard out, our starting quarterback has shown the ability to deliver an accurate ball around two defenders?




              Originally posted by moklerman
              And maybe I just don't see it the same way as everyone else, but why all the candy coated compliments for Bulger? I mean, leading the league in completions? So what! If you throw the ball a LOT then you're bound to have completions. Talk about searching for something to praise him for. And now he's being mentioned in the same breath as Dan Marino and Joe Montana? It's starting to make me sick. Marc Bulger isn't even in the same country as Joe Montana and Dan Marino. We're talking about a guy who didn't even finish in the top 10 in qb rating, in a down year for qb's statistically, being comparable to Dan Marino and Joe Montana? I know, I know, Martz wasn't comparing their playing abilities per se, but why even mention hall of famers when you're talking about "your guy" unless you're trying to send some kind of message. I mean, why not say Bulger is very much like Wade Wilson in how the team really likes him?
              Not in the top 10 in QB rating, but he was in the top ten in attempts (4th), completion percentage (6th), total passing yards (3rd), and yards per attempt (6th). But perhaps all of that means nothing as well.

              Mok, when I read the article, I really didn't see the kind of stuff you're seeing. "I mean, he was like Marino. He had that Marino quickness of getting the ball out of there." They're comparing an aspect of his game to a strength Marino had. As for Montana, "Well, you’ll never guess to whom he compares the player’s personality. 'Like a Joe Montana,’ Martz said." It's his personality! You're flipping a lid because Martz compared Bulger's personality to Montana? You blame the article for searching for something to praise him for, but to me, you seem to be doing the exact opposite: searching for things to put him down. Clearly the article or Martz isn't comparing Bulger as an overall package to Marino or Montana at this point. That seems to be pretty clear just by reading it.



              Originally posted by moklerman
              I just don't understand the double standard in Rams Nation. How can a guy who HAS accomplished something be run out of town for committing turnovers and his replacement be lauded as Dan Marino and Joe Montana for leading the league in interceptions...in 15 games?
              (1) Because he was losing games. (2) Because he lost the team. (3) Because of his cap situation that he refused to help with. (4) Because of various media appearances that have stirred things up. I'm a Warner fan, but obviously Warner's release wasn't based on his turnovers alone.



              Originally posted by moklerman
              I can't think of any good/great qb's that were viewed as "little brothers" in the team's eyes. That is actually the perception that I have had of Bulger too, but the team isn't going to keep that perception for long, especially after a couple of losses. The qb has to be a leader and if the team thinks of him as an underling, I don't see how that can be a good thing. Were Marino and Montana (or Favre, Aikman, Young, Vick, Brady, etc., etc.) thought of as humble little brothers that had to be protected? Super Bowl teams are led by qb's, not coddling them.
              If Bulger wasn't a leader, I seriously doubt he'd even be playing quarterback, let alone be 18-4 as a regular season starter. Again, I think you're misinterpreting what is being said when he's said to be like the players' little brother. It sounds to me, according to the context of the sentence, like they're talking about how humble he is and how he's not making it about himself like he's the star.



              Originally posted by moklerman
              I guess that doesn't apply to certain other qb's that used to be on the roster. Couldn't it just as easily have been said: "don't look at 2002, go back and look at 2001. He was dealing with an injury in 2002"?
              Isn't that exactly what the Rams did with Kurt after 2002 when they gave him a $6 million option roster bonus and named him as their starter in Feb? I think so, so I guess I'm not seeing how this is a double standard.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special

                Originally posted by moklerman
                Optimism I can handle but "we LOVE him", "he's MORE than talented", comparing him to Marino and Montana, "he's something special", I mean c'mon, that's a little more than coach speak to me. I don't remember Martz going that overboard before. I know he's generally talking up the players but it's usually within the boundry of their own ability. "Marshall looks as good as he ever has" or something like that. Martz's praise of Bulger is almost surreal. He seems like he's trying way too hard to talk us all into something that we're not buying.
                Martz just released a Super Bowl quarterback for this guy, who last we saw, threw three INTs in a playoff game that the Rams lost. Why wouldn't he want to talk him up a bit to try and make sure the fans are behind him, especially those that -- as Marc said himself -- will never like him because they're Kurt's fans?

                When you just release a former two time MVP, it makes sense to try and boost support around the guy you chose over him.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special

                  Those little symbols at the beginning and end of the statement are quote signs. That means it's a quote. In this case I was paraphrasing, but I guess that's giving too much credit to the audience to follow along.

                  Oh wait, you're TRYING to be funny. I get it.


                  Saying it's a joke makes it all okay doesn't it?
                  Last edited by RamWraith; -06-07-2004, 11:58 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special

                    This praise of Bulger sounds great. I'm sure it means there won't be a repeat of the Carolina debacle in any future similar situations, since Martz thinks he is so special.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special

                      The "we" I was referring to was contained in your statement "we're not buying it."


                      The truth is, YOU'RE not buying it. The rest of us can decide for ourselves.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special

                        It's good because it shows he's able to lace the ball in there. Are you telling me all of Kurt Warner's throws were in single man coverage? Is it not comforting to know that on a 30-yard out, our starting quarterback has shown the ability to deliver an accurate ball around two defenders?
                        Not when the ability to read a defense has proven to be a problem. There are very few guys who can consistantly throw into double coverage and complete a pass. Favre can get away with it sometimes but he has an arm that's on a totally different level than Bulger's. Bulger is a qb that will need to learn to throw to the correct receiver if he's to be successful. That's the point I was trying to address. Just because you make the wrong read doesn't mean you won't complete the pass sometimes. It does increase the chances of an interception/incompletion though.

                        Not in the top 10 in QB rating, but he was in the top ten in attempts (4th), completion percentage (6th), total passing yards (3rd), and yards per attempt (6th). But perhaps all of that means nothing as well.
                        I use the qb rating as a guide to a qb's performance. It takes into account a wide range of statistics and averages them into something that measures a qb's overall (passing) performance. Attempts, passing yards and YPA are all part of that equation but can't be taken out of context to "fluff" a guys stats. Out of the three categories that you mentioned I would only take the YPA as any kind of isolated stat to measure a qb's performance. However, being clogged up in the pack of other qb's doesn't really distinguish Bulger to me in this particular area.

                        If Bulger wasn't a leader, I seriously doubt he'd even be playing quarterback, let alone be 18-4 as a regular season starter.
                        I have to disagree with you here. Just because a guys physically able to play qb has nothing to do with his leadership abilities. Look at Ryan Leaf. He was able to start games in the NFL. Does that mean he had any leadership abilities?

                        (1) Because he was losing games
                        And there it is, the famous mantra adopted by so many Rams fans. "He" was losing games. Even Martz has adopted this viewpoint. That's the saddest thing about the whole Warner situation to me, that he was made into a scapegoat for the team's struggles. By the fans and the HC alike.

                        It's his personality! You're flipping a lid because Martz compared Bulger's personality to Montana?
                        I addressed this in my earlier post. I clearly stated that Martz's choice of reference is clearly supposed to be a leading statement in some way. Did Martz ever coach Montana? Why would he choose to link Bulger to one of the greatest qb's of all time? There are thousands of guys who have played football and I'm sure at least a couple of them had strong character while being humble, yet Martz chose to use Joe Montana, winner of 4 Super Bowls, synonymous with champion to illustrate Marc Bulger's character? I don't think that was by accident.

                        Martz just released a Super Bowl quarterback for this guy, who last we saw, threw three INTs in a playoff game that the Rams lost. Why wouldn't he want to talk him up a bit to try and make sure the fans are behind him,
                        Which is why I went off on this ridiculous article in the first place. To me, the whole thing makes Martz look like he's shoveling s**t. Just shut up about how great Bulger is and let him prove it on the field. It seems very hypocritical to me to praise and bring attention to a guy by saying how humble and how much he doesn't want attention. If Martz knows that about Bulger, why is he bringing all of this attention and spotlight in his direction?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special

                          This is a prime example of what is going on.

                          A nice article that gets turned into a "Warner debate" or a "Martz bash festival". MAN!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special

                            Maybe that's why I tend to stick with the defense so much J....less hyberbole...LOL

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Rams’ Martz knew Bulger would be special

                              The sad thing is that the only thing that wil stop all this is if Warner starts for the Giants, flops and is benched. Then the Warnerites will have to let it rest (either that or they'll just blame the Giants' offensive line).

                              Comment

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                              • RamWraith
                                The ball's in Bulger's court
                                by RamWraith
                                BY JIM THOMAS
                                Of the Post-Dispatch
                                Friday, Aug. 27 2004

                                For a split second, it had the nightmare feel of Rodney Harrison crashing into
                                the knee of Trent Green five Augusts ago in the Dome.

                                This time, Marc Bulger was writhing in pain on the practice field at Western
                                Illinois University, holding his right (throwing) arm after getting the worst
                                of a collision that also involved offensive tackle Greg Randall and defensive
                                end Leonard Little.

                                Within minutes, it was apparent that Bulger was OK. But at first, no one knew
                                for sure. The lasting memory of that incident wasn't the collision, or the
                                apparent injury. It was of how quiet it got on the practice field. The anxious
                                glances toward Bulger as he was examined by the medical staff. The nervous
                                shuffling by teammates.

                                The silence was immediate, and total. Except, that is, for wide receiver Torry
                                Holt.

                                "Who did it? Who did it?" he said. And you couldn't really tell if Holt was
                                joking. The entire scene was a telling indicator of how the Rams feel about
                                their starting quarterback.

                                "I think they have a great deal of respect for him," coach Mike Martz said. "I
                                think his humility is something that is noticeable for them. And then, of
                                course, the other part of it is performance. In really difficult situations, he
                                has come in and performed very well."

                                Perhaps the most difficult situation is about to unfold for Bulger. For the
                                first time since 1998, the Rams are beginning a football season without Kurt
                                Warner as their starting quarterback. The same Kurt Warner who won two
                                regular-season MVP awards, as well as being named the most valuable player of
                                Super Bowl XXXIV against Tennessee five seasons ago. The same Warner who still
                                has the highest career passer rating in league history (97.2), despite
                                struggling the past two seasons.

                                It's a tough act to follow. No one has ever put up the kind of numbers Warner
                                posted over a three-year period between 1999-2001.

                                It would be understandable if a part of Bulger always felt pressured to measure
                                up to Warner. Understandable, but not necessary.

                                "I'd be disappointed in Marc if he ever felt that way," Martz said. "He
                                certainly doesn't need to do that. He's Marc. He needs to have his own respect
                                for who he is, and what he's capable of doing for this football team. Nobody's
                                going to ask him to be an MVP. All he's got to do is come out and move this
                                team and win like he's done in the past."

                                Win he has. Bulger's 18-4 regular-season record makes him the most successful
                                active quarterback in the NFL (with a minimum of 10 starts), with...
                                -08-29-2004, 11:58 AM
                              • RamWraith
                                Struggles prove value of Bulger, Martz says
                                by RamWraith
                                By Bill Coats
                                Of the Post-Dispatch
                                Monday, Dec. 20 2004

                                Two weeks ago the Rams were 6-6 and in control in the NFC West. Now they're 6-8
                                and a game behind Seattle, with two weeks left in the regular season. What
                                changed?

                                Most notably, the quarterback position, coach Mike Martz emphasized Monday, a
                                day after the Rams were smothered 31-7 in Arizona. Had starter Marc Bulger
                                remained healthy instead of missing the last two outings with a bruised
                                throwing shoulder, the Rams' situation might be significantly different, Martz
                                indicated.

                                "Obviously, you can see the difference. How much of a difference would he have
                                made at Carolina? It's all the difference in the world," Martz said. "I think
                                he's one of the elite in the league. I've been saying that for a long time. Now
                                that he was out of the picture, I think everybody can appreciate how good he
                                really is. And how stymied we become in a lot of areas without him."

                                Stymied, indeed. The once-powerful Rams offense produced one touchdown in a
                                20-7 loss to Carolina, then was stopped cold by the Cardinals. A 61-yard fumble
                                return by defensive end Leonard Little provided the Rams' only points.

                                Some 111 games had passed since a 14-0 loss to Miami on Oct. 18, 1998, the last
                                time the Rams offense failed to score.

                                Bulger, who is expected to play Monday night against Philadelphia, was leading
                                the NFL in passing yardage before he was hurt in the first quarter Dec. 5
                                against San Francisco. Chris Chandler replaced him, and the Rams went on to a
                                16-6 win.

                                But Chandler, 39, tossed six interceptions in a woeful showing at Carolina,
                                then was pulled after a grisly first quarter at Sun Devil Stadium. His future
                                with the team is unclear; Martz said that Jamie Martin "more than likely" would
                                back up Bulger vs. the Eagles. That presumably would leave rookie Jeff Smoker
                                as the No. 3 quarterback, and Chandler, a 17-year veteran, perhaps unemployed.

                                Martin, a 10-year journeyman who hadn't appeared in a regular-season game in
                                two years, completed 16 of 31 passes for 188 yards, without an interception
                                Sunday and earned effusive praise from Martz.

                                The Rams had 185 yards on offense, their lowest total of the season. Bulger's
                                presence, Martz insisted, might have changed that.

                                "He gets the ball so quickly out of there under duress and pressure that you
                                don't really realize it," Martz said. "There may have been a breakdown in
                                protection, but he still completes the ball. Those kinds of things, you just
                                don't really completely comprehend or appreciate until he's not in there."

                                Davis provoked Polley,...
                                -12-21-2004, 04:57 AM
                              • RamWraith
                                Bulger's Big Day Lost in the Shuffle
                                by RamWraith
                                Monday, September 26, 2005

                                By Nick Wagoner
                                Senior Writer

                                It isn’t often that a quarterback’s performance will get lost in the shuffle of a football game considering that no player on the field has as much impact on a game as the signal caller. It’s even more rare for the quarterback to be overlooked when he has a really good game or a really bad game.

                                But leave it to the quiet, unassuming Marc Bulger to have a tough, excellent performance and have it go pretty much unnoticed. After a tough start that left Bulger with a 20.8 quarterback rating at the end of the first quarter and more bumps and bruises than passing yards after being sacked twice and hit countless other times, Bulger rebounded to have one of his best games as a pro.

                                Coach Mike Martz said you can attribute that effort to Bulger’s toughness.

                                “Here’s what you have to consider about his performance, how we started, first of all,” Martz said. “He’s getting sacked and drilled back there to begin with. That normally would rattle any quarterback. I don’t care how good you are. Then, all of a sudden, you are behind by 10 points and you can’t get back to put your foot in the ground to throw, or they’re all over you. So, that can be disillusioning to any quarterback, and then to come back and do what he did the way he did it, I thought was outstanding.”

                                By the end of the day Bulger had 292 yards on 21-of-28 passing and three touchdowns for a rating of 128.9. It was amazing that Bulger was even able to stand upright by the end of the game, let alone posting those kind of numbers.

                                Bulger took so many hits that there were a number of occasions where it appeared he might not get up.

                                “I never go there, I don’t think about that,” Martz said.

                                But Bulger thinks about it, usually when he is hobbling his way back to the huddle after a particularly vicious hit.

                                Take, for example, the obvious forearm to the throat delivered by Titans’ safety Tank Williams that led to a Rams’ timeout. Or the dive at the knees from defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch that resulted in a roughing the passer penalty.

                                Those types of hits have become almost routine for Bulger.

                                “It seems like Murphy’s Law, get hit in the same spots that you don’t want to get hit in,” Bulger said. “That’s the NFL, everyone feels the same. It feels a lot better when you win.”

                                And Bulger was a big reason for that win. When the offensive line settled in during the third quarter, the offense began to click. Bulger rang up a perfect rating of 158.3 in the second half, going 13-of-15 for 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns with no interceptions.

                                “I don’t know what to tell you about Marc, he’s just an outstanding competitor,” Martz said.

                                REPLAY REVISITED: Judging by Martz’s reaction to the replace challenge of the “lateral,”...
                                -09-27-2005, 05:56 AM
                              • RamWraith
                                Painful hit on Bulger angers Martz
                                by RamWraith
                                By Bill Coats
                                Of the Post-Dispatch
                                08/16/2004
                                MACOMB, Ill. - The Rams' afternoon practice came to a sudden and eerily quiet halt Monday when quarterback Marc Bulger was bumped during two-minute-offense drills and wheeled away, grabbing his right arm.

                                Defensive end Leonard Little charged in from the left side and shoved right tackle Greg Randall into Bulger, who doubled over and appeared to be in considerable pain as trainers hustled to his side. It turned out to be little more than a scare: A Rams official reported that Bulger suffered a mild bruise.

                                "I'm fine," Bulger said later.

                                Still, coach Mike Martz wasn't pleased by the close call. When asked by reporters about Bulger's status, Martz snapped: "I don't know. Hell, I'm not a doctor. It just happened 30 seconds ago. ...

                                "Defensively, you've got to stop; this is our No. 1 quarterback. (Little) knocked (Randall) back into the quarterback. And the right tackle's got to do a better job of blocking. He just thinks it's a walk-through, I guess."

                                Polley is told to prove himself

                                Never mind that he's started 36 games in three seasons since the Rams drafted him in the second round in 2001: Linebacker Tommy Polley has been dropped to the No. 2 unit and, Martz said, will stay there until he proves that he deserves to move back up.

                                "This isn't just something from a practice or a situation; this is over time," Martz said. "We've discussed this with Tommy.

                                "He knows the situation, what he needs to do."

                                The move was made after the Rams' 13-10 exhibition-opening loss to Chicago on Thursday. Polley, who declined an interview request Monday, was credited with two tackles. Tony Newson, who has replaced him with the first team, had three.

                                Martz suggested that the switch not be over-emphasized.

                                "This happens all the time in camp," he said. "We're trying combinations to see what the best combination is. We haven't settled on our final three yet, by any stretch of the imagination."

                                Running back update

                                Running back Marshall Faulk, recovering from offseason knee surgery, has participated in three consecutive practices for the first time since camp opened.

                                Martz, who said before Thursday's game that Faulk was "not ready to play physically yet," is pleased with his progress.

                                "He's taking every snap with the 1's (first unit), which is what we thought we'd do this week and see how he feels," Martz said. "Provided that there's no backward movement, he should be fine.

                                "When I say that, I mean swelling or soreness, those kinds of things. We'll keep this really close to the vest and make sure that if there are any indications of that, we'll rest him."...
                                -08-17-2004, 06:40 AM
                              • Nick
                                Manumaleuna impresses Martz
                                by Nick
                                Manumaleuna impresses Martz
                                By Bill Coats
                                Of the Post-Dispatch
                                08/17/2004

                                MACOMB, Ill. - When Mike Martz said that tight end Brandon Manumaleuna has "been consistently excellent throughout practice and our preseason game; he's not had any lapses," the Rams head coach apparently had a lapse of his own.

                                On the 11th play of the Rams' first series vs. Chicago on Thursday, blitzing Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer charged by Manumaleuna and sacked quarterback Marc Bulger. The 9-yard loss stalled the drive at the Chicago 15-yard line, and Jeff Wilkins booted a 33-yard field goal. The Bears won 13-10 in overtime at the Edward Jones Dome.

                                So, Manumaleuna hasn't been perfect since camp opened July 27 at Western Illinois University. But he's been good enough that Martz probably can be forgiven for his episode of selective memory.

                                "Brandon's come light years," Martz said. "He's done just a great job. He finally, at this point, I think, is ready to take off."

                                The Rams certainly hope so, considering that in the offseason, they put up $8.3 million over five years to prevent him from going to Carolina as a restricted free agent. Manumaleuna, 24, said he appreciated the Panthers' interest. "It was good to know that you were wanted somewhere," he said.

                                But he was glad that the Rams kept him. "I was comfortable with everybody here, I like everybody on the team, and the organization's fine," he said. "I looked at it as, I couldn't lose either way."

                                After making only nine catches in his first two years since the Rams selected him in the fourth round of the 2001 draft, Manumaleuna came up with 29 catches for 238 yards last season, his first as the team's No. 1 tight end. He expects even more this year.

                                "I would like to have better numbers after this year, so I do have some bigger goals. We'll see what happens," he said. The first step in that direction was the shedding of 13 pounds in the offseason, dropping him to 275 on his 6-foot-2 frame.

                                "He felt that I'd be a better receiver, and he also wanted to get me more involved with the offense," Manumaleuna said. "So, he asked me if I'd come in a lot lighter. I did that, and ... everything's going well."

                                Bulger's arm is fine

                                Quarterback Marc Bulger reported that his right (throwing) arm was "a little sorer than it was" Monday, after he suffered what was termed a mild bruise. Bulger was bumped by tackle Greg Randall, who had been pushed back by defensive end Leonard Little.

                                Bulger, who felt a jolt of pain to his upper arm, said he was scared "for about two seconds. But you know pretty quick if you're hurt or not, and I realized I wasn't."
                                -08-18-2004, 01:26 AM
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