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Losses obscure Bulger's success

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  • Losses obscure Bulger's success

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    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
    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
      Re: Losses obscure Bulger's success

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


      • #4
        Re: Losses obscure Bulger's success

        From a Fantasy site I get bulletins from:


        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, 01:18 PM.
        This space for rent...


        • #5
          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:


          • #6
            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.


            • #7
              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.


              Related Topics


              • RamWraith
                Bulger finding ways to hit his mark
                by RamWraith
                Posted on Fri, Oct. 22, 2004

                BY STEVE KORTE
                [email protected]

                ST. LOUIS - The bomb is back in the St. Louis Rams' offense.

                Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, often criticized over the past year for his inability to connect with his receivers on the long pass, has thrown eight passes of 30 or more yards in six games this season.

                He threw only two passes of 30 or more yards in the final five games of the 2003 season, including the Rams' overtime playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers.

                "For a while, he wasn't throwing it as well," Rams coach Mike Martz said of Bulger being able to go deep. "I think he is very confident right now about throwing the deep ball, very confident. He started out that way, and then he got to the point where -- and this is Coach Martz's interpretation of what had happened, I'm sure not Marc's -- he was a little tentative with the deep ball.

                "You get a guy running down the field, and he didn't want to miss him. He's very confident right now, and he's putting that ball right where he wants to."

                Bulger has thrown three passes of 40 or more yards over the last two games after throwing only six passes of 40 or more yards all of last season. He had a 52-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Shaun McDonald in overtime in a 33-27 win over the Seattle Seahawks two weeks ago and a 52-yard touchdown pass to Torry Holt in a 28-21 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night.

                "I haven't done anything different, but we're hitting them, and that's all that matters," Bulger said. "So I'll keep winging it."

                Bulger said that completing a deep pass is actually much more difficult than just winging it.

                "People think throwing the deep ball is just taking five steps and throwing it 50 yards down the field, but it's not that easy," Bulger said. "I'm throwing it way before they cut, and it's all depending on the coverage. It's a different landing point every time."

                Bulger said the Rams also have several different kinds of deep balls in their playbook that call for him to throw the ball at different trajectories.

                Martz said Bulger was one of the most accurate deep passers he'd seen when the former West Virginia standout first stepped into a starting role during the 2002 season.

                "Initially, his first year in '02, he was very good on the deep ball," Martz said. "He was like Trent Green in that respect, and I thought Trent was as good as there was throwing the deep ball. He was like that."

                Martz said Bulger's struggles with the deep pass last season prompted extra attention on that aspect of his game during training camp.

                "Throughout camp and the preseason there were days where that is what we did," Martz said. "We took part of our...
                -10-22-2004, 03:05 PM
              • RamWraith
                Bulger is armed with composure
                by RamWraith
                By Jim Thomas
                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                Friday, Dec. 01 2006

                Out of all the possible influences on Marc Bulger's career, who would have
                thought words of wisdom from Billy Joe Tolliver would help in the closing
                minutes against San Francisco?

                In 2000, Bulger was a rookie quarterback for New Orleans. The Saints were
                playing their preseason opener in Minnesota. Tolliver, a journeyman
                quarterback, came off the bench late in what was a tight contest.

                "He said, 'I'm going to win this game checking the ball down. Watch,'" Bulger
                recalled. "He's a 15-year vet or something. He went in, checked the ball all
                the way down the field. We kicked a field goal and won it. I never forgot that."

                The morale of the story: If there's a couple of minutes left in a tight game
                and teams are playing soft, "prevent" coverage, there's no need to force the
                ball or get greedy.

                If you check the ball down to backs and underneath receivers, "you're going to
                get 10 yards, and that's 10 percent of the field each time," Bulger said.

                And so it was Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. Trailing by four, the Rams took
                over on their 20 with 3:54 remaining and all three timeouts. Even though the
                first play of the drive resulted in a 10-yard sack, Bulger and the offense
                maneuvered downfield for a touchdown with 27 seconds left, pulling out a 20-17
                victory over the *****.

                "Marc was nine for nine on that last drive, and the ball's going different
                places," coach Scott Linehan said. "He was basically going everywhere he needed
                to go."

                Steven Jackson caught four check-down passes for 25 yards; backup running back
                Stephen Davis caught one for 11. Torry Holt caught a short pass; Isaac Bruce
                had two clutch catches. Mixed in were two fourth-down runs by Jackson. And then
                Kevin Curtis caught the game winner.

                "Marc had a great tempo about him," Linehan said. "He had such a great demeanor
                in that situation. You don't ever feel like it's something that's not possible
                with him. Because he's got ice water in his veins."

                Fiery quarterbacks such as Brett Favre can be very effective; but as Linehan
                has seen from Bulger, ice water works, too.

                "I really never see Marc rattled," Linehan said. "That's not his personality or
                his temperament. I think that's what makes him as good as he is.

                "He just brings calmness ... a security blanket to the rest of the group, that
                as bad as things may seem, or as good as they may seem, he stays the same. I
                think that creates a lot of consistency with his performance. Not a lot of
                quarterbacks have...
                -12-01-2006, 04:12 PM
              • RamWraith
                Bulger catches up with passing game
                by RamWraith
                By Jim Thomas
                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

                It didn't seem possible during the preseason, when the Rams' starting offensive unit failed to score a touchdown. Or in the early weeks of the regular season, when every game seemed to be a festival of field goals.

                But Marc Bulger has made the transition to coach Scott Linehan's offense, and has done so in impressive fashion. Bulger has completed at least 61.9 percent of his passes in the past four games. His passer rating has been 110 or higher in each of those contests.

                He has thrown for 300-plus yards in three of the four games, and has nine TD passes and just one interception in a span that began with a Week 3 victory in Arizona and continued through the Week 6 loss to Seattle.

                "It's been a difficult transition," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said after the Seattle game. "I'm sure it hasn't been easy. But he's stuck with us, and he's handled it like a true professional."

                Bulger set a franchise record by throwing 248 consecutive passes without an interception, a streak broken against the Seahawks. As the Rams prepare for Sunday's contest in San Diego, Bulger quietly has moved up to third in the NFL in passer rating (99.8), trailing only Indianapolis' Peyton Manning (103.2) and Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb (101.7).

                "He has worked very hard at improving his game on a weekly basis," Linehan said. "I gain more and more appreciation for the little things that he does, as far as his accuracy. ... He knows more and more about what we expect as far as still being aggressive, yet at times not making throws that don't need to be made."

                Bulger shrugs off his numbers.

                "If the numbers are good, they're good," he said. "If they're not, they're not. But we're 4-2. That's all that matters to me."

                Undoubtedly, there will be bumps in the road over the final 10 games. San Diego's No. 1-ranked defense presents a formidable challenge. But there's no doubt that Bulger has made a successful switch from the high-risk, high-reward offense of Mike Martz, to the aggressive yet prudent approach of Linehan.

                "It was frustrating at first," Bulger said. "It took, what, one or two weeks into the regular season? But I think in the big scheme of things that's not a long time, which is nice. Some teams and some offenses take a year or two. We're still early in the season, but I think we've adopted this as our new system, and everyone's getting more comfortable with it and embracing it."

                So much for the concern or was it panic? among fans and the media about the slow-go on offense during August and early September. Bulger's mind-set never wavered. He wasn't concerned. Things would come around.

                "I think...
                -10-26-2006, 06:25 AM
              • RamWraith
                Bulger gets on track, but he's not ready to reassess the Rams
                by RamWraith
                By Bill Coats
                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                Thursday, Nov. 15 2007

                Brutal honesty is as much a part of quarterback Marc Bulger's repertoire as his
                quick release and precision accuracy. In the locker room Sunday after the Rams'
                halted their eight-game skid with a 37-29 victory at New Orleans, Bulger
                offered this sober observation: "We're still a really bad team."

                On Wednesday, he defended that assessment. "In this business, it's about
                winning and the bottom line," Bulger explained. "We're still 1-8 and that's a
                bad football team, in my opinion."

                Still, the Rams are three-point favorites for Sunday's game at San Francisco.
                That's due largely to their offense, which has perked up considerably after a
                stunningly inept start to the season. Bulger has been on the rise, too.

                He shredded the Saints for 302 yards and two touchdowns, completing 81.8
                percent of his passes (27 of 33), a single-game best in his seven-year career.
                His passer rating was a season-high 125.0, and he was named the NFC offensive
                player of the week.

                The award, Bulger said, is "not a big deal." But getting back into sync with
                his receivers and churning out yards and points again is.

                "If you're not winning, you're turning the ball over and things keep going
                wrong, you keep looking at yourself in the mirror and try to figure out what
                you're doing wrong," he said. "I really didn't change anything. I prepared the
                same. So, you can take a deep breath and say, 'It's not what you're doing, it's
                just the execution.'"

                Bulger pointed to two specific areas that helped boost the offense's efficiency:

                The presence of Steven Jackson in the backfield. "You can't ignore the fact
                that when he's in there, good things happen," Bulger said. "If we can keep him
                healthy, I think we'll continue to get better and score more points."

                The offensive line protecting effectively. "When I'm getting hit early, (the
                receivers) have to break their routes off short and our timing gets off,"
                Bulger said. "When I'm getting time ... they can get separation. There was
                definitely more separation than in the past, and that's because of the line
                giving me more time."

                So, what do the Rams have to do to soften Bulger's evaluation of their
                standing? "Keep winning games," he said. "If we can win a couple more and get a
                more respectable record, then I can say we're a better team."
                -11-15-2007, 06:37 AM
              • RamWraith
                Bulger swaggers in pocket
                by RamWraith
                By Jim Thomas
                Of the Post-Dispatch
                Wednesday, Sep. 07 2005

                When last seen against San Francisco, Rams quarterback Marc Bulger was being
                helped off the field of the Edward Jones Dome after getting crumpled by *****
                defensive tackle Bryant Young.

                With 1 1/2 minutes remaining in the opening quarter that day, Young eluded Rams
                offensive tackle Grant Williams, sacking Bulger for a 10-yard loss.

                "Bryant Young just had my hand, held it to my side, and I landed on my right
                shoulder," Bulger recalled Wednesday. "It was in an awkward position (for) the
                AC joint. ... I couldn't really brace my shoulder for the fall, and it just
                kind of slid out, or whatever those joints do."

                Bulger knew right away that his throwing shoulder was messed up.

                "With the shoulder, those ligaments get stretched and it's just nearly
                impossible (to throw)," he said. "You can fight through the pain, but you're
                still flinching, and you won't put the ball where you want."

                Strange as it sounds, that game proved to be a watershed moment in Bulger's
                career. Although Chris Chandler got the Rams through the rest of that Dec. 5
                contest for a 16-6 victory, he was a disaster in losses the following weeks at
                Carolina and Arizona.

                Bulger's importance to the team was painfully underscored in those defeats.
                Just as eye-catching was how he played once he returned. In the Rams' final two
                regular-season games of the 2004, plus their two playoff contests, Bulger
                completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 1,287 yards, with eight touchdowns,
                four interceptions and a stellar passer rating of 106.3.

                According to wide receiver Isaac Bruce, that has led to a greater air of
                confidence in Bulger this training camp and preseason.

                "I think he realizes what he means to this team, and what he means to this
                offense now," Bruce said. "That was very evident when he went down last year
                vs. the ***** here at home, and we missed him for those two games. Things
                didn't go as well as they should have when he was in there. I believe just
                having him in the offense makes everything a whole lot smoother."

                This preseason, Bulger and the entire starting offense looked scraggly in
                limited duty in the opener against Chicago. But against San Diego and Detroit,
                Bulger was on fire. In those two games, he completed 74.2 percent of his passes
                for 348 yards with three TDs, two interceptions, and a passer rating of 110.1.

                No wonder coach Mike Martz, when asked about Bulger's play this preseason,
                said: "I think he's probably pretty close to where he was when last season
                ended, to be honest with...
                -09-08-2005, 06:11 AM