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  • Five Rams players on the spot

    By Dan Arkush
    Toiling for a franchise with only five wins the past two seasons, one can assume most of the Rams' players realize the need to shape up or risk being quickly shipped out. But there are five players in particular who need to turn it up a notch and avoid turning off not only a new regime determined to change the team's recent history but also St. Louis sports fans who have been spoiled rotten by the success of the local Major League Baseball team. Three of the five players are No. 1 draft picks who have yet to live up to their first-round billing. But the player who's feeling the most pressure by far is QB Marc Bulger, who is facing a do-or-die season.
    1. QB Marc Bulger
    The numbers don't lie. Since signing a hefty six-year, $65 million contract extension before the '07 season, Bulger has hit the skids big time. In addition to registering a woeful 22-28 TD-interception ratio the past two seasons, he has looked tentative and shell-shocked most of the time. With new backup QB Kyle Boller breathing down his neck, Bulger is feeling the heat. A fractured right pinky finger suffered in a mid-August practice hardly helps matters.
    2. DRE Chris Long
    Yes, the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long is a great kid who works his tail off. But there's no doubt the Rams' No. 1 pick in the '08 draft (second overall) tailed off over the second half of his rookie campaign. Put simply, only four sacks from a player drafted as high as Long isn't going to cut it. But Steve Spagnuolo worked wonders with the Giants' D-line before becoming the Rams' new head coach and figures to have a very positive influence on Long.
    3. DLT Adam Carriker
    The Rams' '07 No. 1 draft pick has seldom been able to play at full strength due to injuries and has been merely adequate as a pro. After being forced to deal with nagging injuries to both shoulders and an ankle last season, Carriker has been hindered by a sprained ankle that forced him to miss the first three preseason games. It appears free-agent pickup Gary Gibson picked up the slack enough at left tackle to push Carriker for the starting job.
    4. ORT Jason Smith
    Shouldn't the second overall pick of the '09 draft be counted on to make an immediate impact on a team coming off a 2-14 record? That's not the case with Smith, who unlike ILB James Laurinaitis, the Rams' '09 second-round draft pick, has had a hard time getting up to speed on the pro level. Expected to be the team's left tackle of the future, Smith begins his career at right tackle, where it's far from a given he will crack the Week One starting lineup.
    5. WR Donnie Avery
    The speedy Avery was not a first-round draft pick last season (he was drafted in the second round), but he was the first wide receiver selected overall. After displaying impressive flashes in '08, finishing second on the team in catches and receiving yards, the Rams are hoping he can stay healthy and blossom into a consistent big-play threat in the team's suspect passing game. But he's iffy for the season opener after fracturing his foot in training camp.
    I'll agree with Bulger and Carriker, but Long, Avery, and Smith? Smith hasn't even played a regular season game yet and he already has to "turn it up a notch" ... huh? And really, how does Avery need to turn it up a notch?

  • #2
    Re: Five Rams players on the spot

    I think Spags will have a huge impact on all this players, even bulger.

    We have not had an identity for five years now, so if we do run stop and

    run the ball, Bulger and the rest have a chance to succeed.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Five Rams players on the spot

      1. Yep. Statistically, over the last two seasons, Bulger would probably rank in the bottom third of the league's starting quarterbacks, but he's earning as if he were in the top third. Something has to give there. Either he'll return to form and everybody will be happy, or management will start looking in a new direction.

      2. Short memory. Mario Williams only had 4.5 sacks as a rookie. The next season he had 14. Put simply, Chris Long will be expected to improve just like any other second year player. He has the added pressure of being an early draft pick, but as long as he makes reasonable progress, his job is not on the line. In that sense, the vast majority of the team is being put more "on the spot" than he is.

      3. Tough break. I always feel for the guys who haven't lived up to expectations because of injury. There's only so much Carriker can do to keep himself healthy. That said, he is in the spotlight right now and needs to come up big.

      4. Bah! We knew when we drafted him that Smith might be a little rough around the edges. We knew he was used to playing out of a different stance and could use some work on technique. The fact that he might not be ready to step in immediately should not be considered an indictment of his ability.

      5. Yeah, okay. I can see that. Donnie showed some potential for game-breaking plays, but it remains to be seen how well he'll do when teams are consistently putting their best corner on him. Is he a true no. 1 receiver? We'll find out.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Five Rams players on the spot

        HA. At first I thought the thread was a joke. Like a mock list..whoever that obscure writer is, he's not very informed. A rookie, 2 2nd year players, and a 3rd year who's been injured...sounds to me like he wanted to pick on Bulger but had to fill 2-5 with some other names.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Five Rams players on the spot

          1) Bulger in my estimation, has to play well this season or find his way out of St. Louis next year. I doubt that even the enablers on this board would support him, should he turn in a third consecutive horrible season, even if it's not all his fault. At some point, even the excuses will be moot.

          Sooner or later, when you're the highest paid player in a teams' history (I will never get my head around that), even your staunches supporters will start to compare your performance with your salary. And we all know that's been a no-win proposition for Marc. Step up or ship out.

          2) Chris Long doesn't have to make the pro bowl to stay in good favor with the faithful, but he does have to show noteworthy improvement over last year. Another 4 sack season this season, and he could well be on the hot seat this time next year.

          3) Adam Carriker is where Chris Long will be next season if he doesn't show marked improvement (particularly in the QB sack area). If he can't stay healthy, I doubt the front office will care that he's a former 1st round pick just 3 years ago.

          4) Jason Smith, by virtue of his salary is under tremendous pressure to crack the starting lineup by opening day. No matter what the front office and/or coaching staff may say about Smith, it would be a huge disappointment if he hasn't earned his way onto the field by the opener. 32 million guaranteed, says you're a starter whether you're starter material or not. On the other hand, if you can't crack the Rams' starting lineup at Offensive Tackle, you probably shouldn't have been drafted number two. Just my opinion.

          5) Donnie Avery has already shown he is a bit injury prone. He has missed significant time in both pre-seasons since being the first receiver drafted just over a year ago. To say he has to step it up is an understatement given the Rams state at WR, but much like Adam Carriker, he first needs to find a way to stay on the field.
          Last edited by Fortuninerhater; -09-03-2009, 11:33 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Five Rams players on the spot

            Who is Dan Arkush?
            The more things change, the more they stay the same.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Five Rams players on the spot

              Originally posted by HUbison View Post
              Who is Dan Arkush?
              Executive editor of Pro Football Weekly according to their website.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Five Rams players on the spot

                Originally posted by Fortuninerhater View Post
                1) Bulger in my estimation, has to play well this season or find his way out of St. Louis next year. I doubt that even the enablers on this board would support him, should he turn in a third consecutive horrible season, even if it's not all his fault. At some point, even the excuses will be moot.

                Sooner or later, when you're the highest paid player in a teams' history (I will never get my head around that), even your staunches supporters will start to compare your performance with your salary. And we all know that's been a no-win proposition for Marc. Step up or ship out.

                2) Chris Long doesn't have to make the pro bowl to stay in good favor with the faithful, but he does have to show noteworthy improvement over last year. Another 4 sack season this season, and he could well be on the hot seat this time next year.

                3) Adam Carriker is where Chris Long will be next season if he doesn't show marked improvement (particularly in the QB sack area). If he can't stay healthy, I doubt the front office will care that he's a former 1st round pick just 3 years ago.

                4) Jason Smith, by virtue of his salary is under tremendous pressure to crack the starting lineup by opening day. No matter what the front office and/or coaching staff may say about Smith, it would be a huge disappointment if he hasn't earned his way onto the field by the opener. 32 million guaranteed, says you're a starter whether you're starter material or not. On the other hand, if you can't crack the Rams' starting lineup at Offensive Tackle, you probably shouldn't have been drafted number two. Just my opinion.

                5) Donnie Avery has already shown he is a bit injury prone. He has missed significant time in both pre-seasons since being the first receiver drafted just over a year ago. To say he has to step it up is an understatement given the Rams state at WR, but much like Adam Carriker, he first needs to find a way to stay on the field.
                I agree about Avery,he does need to prove he is a number 1 guy,I think he will be a very good receiver but I don't see where he is on the Bruce/Holt level and I could be wrong and I hope I am, but a #1 receiver I just don't see it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Five Rams players on the spot

                  My 5:

                  Marc Bulger
                  Randy McMichael
                  Chris Long
                  Alex Barron
                  Richie Incognito

                  In no particular order.
                  sigpic :ram::helmet:

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Five Rams players on the spot

                    I haven't been a big fan of Carriker for the Rams because I have always thought he just wasn't meant to play DT. I don't care what anyone says, the proof is in the injuries. He's hurt more than any other DT that I know of. He would be better suited in a 3-4 defense than inside at DT. It's not Carriker's fault he gets hurt, those things happen. However, can the Rams just keep shrugging it off every year?

                    Man how I miss Ryan Pickett.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Five Rams players on the spot

                      Originally posted by txramsfan View Post
                      I haven't been a big fan of Carriker for the Rams because I have always thought he just wasn't meant to play DT. I don't care what anyone says, the proof is in the injuries. He's hurt more than any other DT that I know of. He would be better suited in a 3-4 defense than inside at DT. It's not Carriker's fault he gets hurt, those things happen. However, can the Rams just keep shrugging it off every year?

                      Man how I miss Ryan Pickett.
                      Eeek...no more shrugging by or about Carriker,please; that's how Rams linemen get hurt.

                      Good to have you back, telling it like it is,Tx; thought for a minute you'd finessed one too many returns and were playing ping-pong with Madoff somewhere.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Five Rams players on the spot

                        I don't agree with 3 on that list: Long, Smith or Avery.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Five Rams players on the spot

                          Originally posted by txramsfan View Post
                          I haven't been a big fan of Carriker for the Rams because I have always thought he just wasn't meant to play DT. I don't care what anyone says, the proof is in the injuries.
                          How would playing defensive end in a 3-4 mean less injuries? Would he not still be taking on double teams? I don't know about shoulders, but I'm pretty sure Leonard Little and James Hall have both had pectoral injuries before, which I would expect might be sustained in similar manner (i.e. getting an arm wrenched the wrong way). I get the impression that ankle injuries are also relatively common for defensive linemen in general.

                          Comment

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                          • MauiRam
                            Heat is on Bulger this season ..
                            by MauiRam
                            Columnist Jeff Gordon
                            STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
                            08/04/2009

                            The Rams are grinding away day after day, striving to put the past two seasons of futility behind them.

                            “Our whole building right now is trying to turn this around and have some fun again,” quarterback Marc Bulger observed after Tuesday’s morning session.

                            But few individuals feel as much heat as Bulger feels. This could be the make-or-break season of his career.

                            This is the final season his lucrative long-term contract protects him. This is the last year his exit would cause huge cap issues for the Rams.

                            That factor helped buy him another year when other Ram veterans left unceremoniously. Orlando Pace and Torry Holt, two future candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, departed after last season as the rebuilding began in earnest.

                            This could be Bulger’s final opportunity to get his career on track here. All eyes are on him and he understands that.

                            “I just concentrate on what I’m doing,” Bulger said. “We have to win football games. That is everybody’s goal right now.”

                            Now he is adapting to new head coach Steve Spagnuolo, the new offensive staff and the new system. Bulger is learning to run the West Coast scheme, which is some distance from the Air Martz attack he grew up on.

                            “I can’t say that I’m there yet,” he said. “One of my best attributes is getting rid of the ball quickly, getting it in the hands of playmakers.

                            “We have a ways to go, but we’re getting there.”

                            Bulger isn’t the most mobile quarterback ever, but he must move his feet in this scheme. The Rams don’t expect him to scramble downfield, but the staff will ask him to roll out from time to time and move around in the pocket to avoid the rush.

                            In the Al Saunders offense, the wide receivers had options, based on what they saw from the defense. That made their job more complicated . . . and that resulted in unfortunate complications for rookies Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton.

                            In this West Coast scheme, the receivers’ job is much simpler. More falls on the quarterback to adjust to what the defense is doing.

                            “There are certain things you can do, like moving in the pocket to buy a guy more time,” Bulger said. “That will be the extent of my ad libbing.”

                            This is a challenging transition for Bulger. Mike Martz groomed him to be a Pro Bowl-caliber QB.

                            Since Mad Mike’s exit, the Rams have had a revolving door of coaches and schemes. There has been no continuity.

                            “Yeah, it’s not easy,” Bulger concurred. “For five or six years I had the same voice.”

                            He still leans on Martz’s teachings, but he must adapt them to the offense he has to run now.

                            “I’m still not there yet,” he said. “I still hear my old coach’s voice, Coach Martz.”
                            ...
                            -08-04-2009, 11:29 AM
                          • RamsSB99
                            Rams hope to reboot Bulger
                            by RamsSB99
                            Rams hope to reboot Bulger
                            By Jeff Gordon
                            STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
                            03/17/2009

                            Once again, Marc Bulger has to start over.

                            He has gone from the Air Martz offense to Scott Linehan’s vertical passing game, Al Saunders’ Air Martz Lite and now Pat Shurmur’s new scheme.

                            He is on his fifth head coach (counting the interim bosses). He has gone through a litany of position coaches and coordinators, too.

                            The Rams fell into a steady downward spiral through that period. So did Bulger’s career.

                            His contract structure made him almost impossible to cut -– owing to massive salary cap implications -– so he is back to work as the last surviving offensive member of the "Greatest Show on Turf."

                            “This is definitely going to be the most trying, different scheme that I’ve had, but I think it’s a good thing that it’s a whole fresh start from the locker room to the building to the offense,” Bulger told reporters Wednesday during a break in the team’s offseason activities. “We all have to start from scratch.

                            “I’ve been meeting for about a month now; just getting the terminology down, but football’s football. Coach Shurmur’s doing a good job of deciphering everything for me.”

                            Bulger must pull himself together for the 2009 season or he will follow his old teammates on down the trail. This could be his last chance to re-prove himself as a top NFL quarterback.

                            It will be a big challenge. With Torry Holt, Drew Bennett and Dante Hall long gone, the receiver depth chart features Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton and Derek Stanley as well as a number of TBAs.

                            That terrifies fans, because Avery and Burton often appeared lost when they played last season.

                            “Being rookies, I think no matter what system they were going to be a little bit tentative and slow,” Bulger said. “But having that year under their belt and with a system like this I think that it’s just going to be double good because there won’t be all that thinking and anxiety.

                            ”I know just talking to those young guys today, they’re excited to get going on this and they’re healthy.”

                            With Orlando Pace gone, the current left tackle is Alex Barron, who was so-so (at best) on the right side. The right tackle is TBA.

                            Barron, Bulger said, “is an athletic guy, you can see it in his range that he has long arms, great feet. He’s played there in substitutions a couple times in practice and maybe a couple games, so I don’t think it’ll be a huge deal for him. He’s probably used to the right side, but I think when you’re as athletic as he is that it won’t be as huge a deal as it would be maybe for some other guy that was there for 10 years.”

                            The Rams will continue filling their many holes through the draft, free agency and trades.

                            “There are a lot of faces that I didn’t recognize, but that happens in March...
                            -03-17-2009, 05:43 PM
                          • Spiderwolf
                            This team is pitiful!
                            by Spiderwolf
                            is this team EVER going to get better? This team is pitiful. We have a bad quarterback, a bad running back, no offense,no defense and a horrible, horrible coach. You people can defend Bulger and Jackson all you want but those guys cant start for most other teams in my opinion. Both of them are extremely over-rated! This team went downhill when Bulger became the starting quarterback over Warner and its never recovered! I want to know when we can expect changes. This team will be lucky to win one or two games all year!
                            -09-21-2008, 08:06 PM
                          • r8rh8rmike
                            Bulger Admits This Is His Last Chance
                            by r8rh8rmike
                            Bulger admits this is his last chance
                            by Alex Marvez

                            Updated: June 18, 2009

                            EARTH CITY, Mo. - Quarterbacks like Marc Bulger sometimes don't get a second chance.

                            Rarely will they get a third.

                            This isn't lost on Bulger when the subject is broached inside an office at St. Louis Rams headquarters. The franchise has won just five games in two seasons — the NFL's longest stretch of futility for a non-expansion team since the 1995-1996 New York Jets. That's usually enough losing to trigger a change under center.

                            Bulger got a mulligan last offseason when the Rams passed on drafting Matt Ryan, instead selecting DE Chris Long No. 2 overall. But after another miserable season, the Rams could very well have opted to start from scratch at the position.

                            They didn't. Then this spring St. Louis eschewed acquiring another veteran starter or selecting a quarterback with the second overall pick in April's draft.

                            For this, Bulger is grateful. But he also knows the Rams aren't going to have much more patience without a relatively quick turnaround.

                            "I understand we have to win," Bulger told FOXSports.com after a recent offseason practice. "It's not fair to our fans or the ownership. If we don't, I know it starts with me.

                            "It's probably my final chance."

                            Bulger and defensive end Leonard Little are the last player ties to the franchise's glory days from early this decade. Both are the only remaining members of the 2001 Rams that were upset by New England in Super Bowl XXXV. Bulger went from reserve to starter the following season when replacing an injured Kurt Warner and won the position outright in 2003. For a spell, Bulger was considered in the upper tier of NFL quarterbacks.

                            But while Warner has since reinvented himself in Arizona, the 32-year-old Bulger has faded in what should be the prime of his career. Playing behind a shoddy offensive line, Bulger has completed a full 16-game season just once while being sacked 228 times in a six-year span.

                            At same time, the franchise around Bulger has crumbled because of poor personnel decisions and ineffective head coaching. Team owner Georgia Frontiere died in January 2008, leaving an uncertain future for the club in St. Louis.

                            "I remember when we were winning, the days were longer and it was fun coming in," Bulger said. "You go out to eat with your buddies and tell stories. But the last two years when you're losing every week, you just go home after. You don't celebrate. You think, 'What did I do?'

                            "The whole building had a different feeling. Not just the players, but everybody used to want to come to work and be part of the Rams. It just seems like when you lose, people wanted to start to disassociate themselves. There's supposed to be some fun involved in professional...
                            -06-18-2009, 08:06 PM
                          • Guest's Avatar
                            Will Bulger Be Able Get It Going Early?
                            by Guest
                            I know he can but ! But can he do it consistantly? The key to the GSOT was getting an early lead. Kurt was one of the best at it! Can Marc capture the time in Indy when they jumped out to 18-0 lead on a consistent basis ? So far I would say NO! He has not shown the the concentration to get IT going early. This is going to be one of the Rams biggest hurtles this year. If he cannot do this the rams, with their defense, are going to be playing catch up all year long! One thing that is going to be in Marc's favor is the running game is going to be better than in the past and maybe he will not have to pass as much, I Hope? IF HE CAN LIGHT IT UP EARLY ???? WHO KNOWS HOW FAR WE CAN GO!
                            -06-11-2007, 02:59 PM
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