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  • Rams ought to be somewhat improved

    Rams ought to be somewhat improved

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
    [More columns]Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    09/12/2009

    I'm looking forward to the Rams' season opener at Seattle. After going 5-27 over the last two seasons, the organization begins a new era under rookie head coach Steve Spagnuolo.

    I won't put unrealistic expectations on this team, but we should see some improvement. In addition to avoiding injuries, finishing in the plus column on the turnover ratio and playing solidly on special teams, here are the Rams' keys for a competitive 2009 season:

    — Man up against the NFC West: Over the last two seasons the Rams are 1-11 against the Seahawks, Cardinals and ***** and have lost those 11 games by an average of 15 points.

    — Get Marc Bulger back in form: Over the last two seasons Bulger ranks 37th in completion percentage, 38th in passer rating, 34th in interception rate and 37th in touchdown rate among NFL quarterbacks. Bulger has taken a beating and has not had a good cast around him. But let's not make too many excuses for Bulger. In his last 13 games in which he's been sacked no more than two times, Bulger had a QB rating of 64.2. He needs to make more plays. Bulger should be helped this season by a more physical offensive line and a West Coast offense that will give him the chance to make quick throws. He'll improve ... but how much?

    — Get a push up front: The Rams have made a hefty financial investment in their offensive line over the last two seasons. There's no excuse for poor overall play from this group.

    — Get Steven Jackson rolling: He must go to the post for all 16 games. And he needs the football in his hands. In 2006, Jackson had 436 touches, second-most in the league, and led the NFL in yards from scrimmage. The Rams went 8-8. In two subsequent seasons, he had 275 and 293 touches, respectively. This is SJ39's team now. Keep him busy.

    — Be respectable against the run: Over the past three seasons the Rams have been plundered for 6,646 yards rushing. You could line up 11 toll booths and be more effective in slowing running backs.

    — Scheming up a pass rush: This was Spagnuolo's specialty in his days as a defensive coordinator. He learned from the master, the late Jim Johnson. The Rams have to find a way to make QBs uncomfortable.
    :ramlogo:

  • #2
    Re: Rams ought to be somewhat improved

    I like I like I like..... God I am so pumped for the games tomorrow...

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rams ought to be somewhat improved

      Nice how BM has 2 articles in 2 days. One blasts Bulger and complains that the Rams primary concern is money. The other tries to take an optimistic slant.

      That way, whatever happens on Sunday, BM can say, "see?"

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Rams ought to be somewhat improved

        Couldn't agree more. I think the only way we're going to have a chance, especially the first few games until our young WR's get rolling, is for SJ to carry the team 1 rush at a time.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Rams ought to be somewhat improved

          We need to get Jackson rolling this week. If he doesn't have atleast 22 carries, that is why we're most likely going to lose. That is the key. Let them focus on Jackson, eventually we can go out to the speedy receivers.

          Another thing, we have to stop the Hawks. They don't have a top notch RB, but if we play like we have the past few seasons, it'll seem like they do. Stop the run and make Hasselbeck run for his life!

          I hope Chris Long opens the gates with a sack!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Rams ought to be somewhat improved

            Originally posted by AvengerRam View Post
            Nice how BM has 2 articles in 2 days. One blasts Bulger and complains that the Rams primary concern is money. The other tries to take an optimistic slant.

            That way, whatever happens on Sunday, BM can say, "see?"
            I Lol'ed at your post, sir.
            Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Rams ought to be somewhat improved

              i think i would be happier without Bernie writing

              it doesnt take much insight to say that after we were terrible last year, we might be a little bit better this year
              @EssexRam_

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Rams ought to be somewhat improved

                If we stay close early , unlike last years trip to seaville, we'll be alright.

                Comment

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                • eldfan
                  Bulger Just Ok
                  by eldfan
                  By Bernie Miklasz

                  Good day…

                  1. Breaking Down Marc Bulger’s First Game: The Rams’ QB wasn’t good, wasn’t bad, in Seattle. It was an OK performance. He didn’t have a chance to make a lot of plays, and his receivers weren’t exactly running free. I didn’t see many getting open. But Bulger did miss on a couple of plays/throws that should have been made. Bulger had 19 incompletions in the game, and according to STATS LLC, only four were the result of poor throws. That was better than most NFL quarterbacks in the first week. One pass was dropped. One was hit at the line. Eight were broken up by defenders. Three passes were intentionally thrown away. The other two incompletions weren’t categorized. Bulger was good on fiirst down throws (10 of 15) and not so good when he faced 2nd down and a distance of 8 yards or more (3 for 9). Bulger was 1 for 5 passing in the red zone. Only one of his third-down passing attenpts resulted in a first down. Bulger was more effective against the blitz (5 for 9) than throwing in non-blitz situations (12 for 27). There wasn’t much difference between his shotgun-formation passing and non-shotgun passing. When the Rams went with 4 WRs, he completed 3 of 4 for 65 yards. All in all, about what I expected for a QB who started the opener after missing several weeks with a broken finger. Bulger competed hard, and he did a better job (than we saw in recent seasons) of throwing the ball away to avoid a sack. Not much to complain about. Not much to get fired up about.

                  2. Other Rams Notes From The Opener: According to STATS, Rams starting cornerbacks Ron Bartell and Jonathan Wade each were targeted 8 times, and each gave up 5 completions…. Rams 2nd-year LB David Vobora, who was making his first start at strong-side LB in place of the waived Chris Draft, was targeted for passes 4 times and the Seahawks completed all 4 against him … strong safety James Butler was targeted 4 times and did not allow a completion … Steven Jackson rushed for 67 yards, and 43 of the yards came after contact. That was about a middle-of-the-pack percentage among NFL RBs… Jackson broke two tackles, which tied him for the NFL lead among RBs in the first week… third downs were a huge problem. The Rams offense had the NFL’s worst conversion rate (16.7 %) in the NFL in the first week, and the Rams defense allowed a third-down conversion rate of 53.3 percent, which ranked 25th.

                  3. Rushing the Ball Based on Down & Distance: I firmly believe the Rams should have made more of an effort to run the ball at Seattle; Jackson had only 9 first-half carries and 16 rushing attempts overall. Of course, even the most basic of constructive criticism brings out the Rams apologists, so I had to chuckle at listening to the radio and hearing the predictable defense being made for the Rams’ out-of-sorts play calls against the Seahawks. The excuse being made for offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was this: the Rams couldn’t...
                  -09-16-2009, 03:57 PM
                • RamFan_Til_I_Die
                  Bulger is grateful for new support
                  by RamFan_Til_I_Die
                  By Bill Coats
                  ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                  05/22/2009

                  Steve Spagnuolo didn't want to leave any doubt in Marc Bulger's mind. Soon after he was hired as the Rams' new head coach, Spagnuolo sought out Bulger and assured him that he was his quarterback.

                  Period. End of discussion.

                  Given the struggles that Bulger — and the Rams — had experienced recently, there might have been some question about that. But Spagnuolo pledged to Bulger that he, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, quarterbacks coach Dick Curl "and the rest of this team have all the confidence in the world in him."

                  After a two-hour practice Thursday during organized team activities at Rams Park, Bulger acknowledged that Spagnuolo's words provided considerable relief.

                  "Any time a new staff comes in, they're going to bring in the people they want," Bulger said. "He made it clear to me from the get-go that he wanted me to be his quarterback, and I appreciate that."

                  In 2003, Bulger's first full season as the starting quarterback, the Rams went 12-4 and won the NFC West title. They were 8-8 the next year, but made the postseason and reached the second round of the playoffs.

                  Over those two seasons, Bulger established himself as one of the league's most accurate QBs, connecting on 64.6 percent of his passes, piling up 7,809 yards and 43 touchdowns. He played in the Pro Bowl in '04. Life was good for the former West Virginia University standout.

                  But just as quickly, it all came apart.

                  The Rams failed to post a winning record in the subsequent four seasons, crumbling to a 19-45 mark over that span. Even in 2006, when Bulger earned his second Pro Bowl invitation by registering career highs for yards (4,301) and TDs (24), the Rams mustered just an 8-8 finish.

                  As the team's fortunes dipped to their lowest point since arriving in St. Louis in 1995, going 3-13 in 2007 and then 2-14 last year, Bulger became a lightning rod for those seeking to vent over the club's downturn.

                  "It's tough at times," Bulger conceded. "But it comes with the position. Hopefully when we start winning again, it'll make it feel all that much better."

                  But ... can the Rams win again with Bulger, who has endured an uncommon pounding the last few seasons? Obviously, Spagnuolo believes so.

                  "I've tried to defend him as a coordinator or a defensive coach (with Philadelphia and the New York Giants) in a number of different games," Spagnuolo said. "I still think he's a tough guy to defend."

                  Nevertheless, 2009 almost certainly is a make-or-break season for Bulger, 32. He knows that he has to shrug off the bruises and ratchet up his game, or the Rams likely will be looking for his successor in 2010.

                  "Now it's my turn to keep my side of...
                  -05-22-2009, 10:07 AM
                • MauiRam
                  It's time for Rams to focus on next QB ..
                  by MauiRam
                  Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
                  ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                  11/03/2009

                  I don't know how Steven Jackson is doing it. When getting ready to play the Rams, opposing defenses have six days to conspire and scheme and concentrate on one goal: stopping No. 39.

                  Defenses are ganging up on Jackson, wanting him to feel a lot of pain in exchange for those yards. But he endures. He will not surrender. Through eight games, Jackson is tied for second in the NFL in rushing, and he's second in combined rushing-receiving yards. Considering what he's up against, that's pretty amazing.

                  I don't know if we can fully comprehend the difficulty of being a targeted running back on a bad football team. Jackson is getting it done in an offense that cannot throw the ball with any consistency. Without the threat of an aggressive downfield passing attack, Jackson won't be able to hold the dogs off forever. Those eight-man fronts will eventually grind him down.

                  And that must change.

                  Unless the Rams get serious about developing a new quarterback and upgrading the skill level at wide receiver, Jackson will limp away to an early retirement. He'll be pummeled into a premature breakdown.

                  Jackson is a franchise piece. But without adding a franchise quarterback, the Rams will waste the remaining prime years of his career.

                  As I've written before, I have no interest in a futile and foolish Marc Bulger vs. Kyle Boller debate. They are not the future. And while I understand why fans want to see rookie Keith Null, it would be irresponsible to start him. Null played small-college ball, ran a spread offense, doesn't receive practice reps and hasn't had much time to learn a pro-style offense. Why set up the kid to fail? Besides: Null was OK in the preseason, but let's not get carried away.

                  The Rams should invest a premium 2010 draft pick in the quarterback position and get on with the future. There's no guarantee that Sam Bradford, Tony Pike, Jimmy Clausen, Jake Locker, Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy or any other top QB prospect will turn into a franchise-altering starter in St. Louis.

                  And though we've seen rookie quarterbacks — Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco — immediately step in and thrive, a growth period is the norm. And that maturation process can be difficult. I took a look at some Hall of Fame quarterbacks, and their early struggles were profound.

                  Terry Bradshaw completed 38 percent of his passes and threw six TDs and 24 interceptions as a Pittsburgh rookie. John Elway completed 47 percent with seven TDs and 14 interceptions as a Denver rookie. In his first two seasons in Dallas, Troy Aikman passed for 20 TDs and 36 interceptions. In his first three seasons in San Diego, Dan Fouts completed 49 percent of his throws, with 15 TDs and 33 interceptions. And there are many other examples.
                  The Rams can't be afraid to...
                  -11-03-2009, 11:41 AM
                • r8rh8rmike
                  Bernie: Bulger On The Spot
                  by r8rh8rmike
                  09.11.2009 11:40 am
                  Sept. 11: 5 Minutes on Bulger, Rams
                  By Bernie Miklasz


                  Marc Bulger on the Spot: The next time I hear one of the Bulger apologists make excuses for him, saying that his poor play over the last two seasons is directly attributable to the number of sacks and hits he takes, I’ll offer a two-word rebuttal: Ben Roethlisberger. Since the start of the 2004 season, Big Ben has been sacked more than any NFL quarterback, 196. Bulger has been sacked 191 times since ‘04. Over the last two seasons, Roethlisberger has been sacked 93 times compared to 75 for Bulger. In terms of sacks per passing attempts, Roethlisberger in 2007-2008 was sacked on 9.1 percent of his setups, compared to 8.1 percent for Bulger. And it’s not as if Roethlisberger is the benficiary of a strong running game; as we saw again Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers are surprisingly mediocre on the ground. And Roethlisberger took a pounding but found a way to lead the Steelers to a season-opening win over Tennessee in a brutally tough encounter. After being decked early, Roethlisberger completed 18 of 22 passes in the second half and OT. He didn’t go into a shell. So how is it that Roethlisberger can continue to make so many clutch plays after absorbing so much physical punishment? Why is Roethlisberger able to overcome the abuse? I realize that Ben likes to hang onto the ball, and he likes to fight off the rushers, so a percentage of the sacks are on him. But Bulger also holds onto the ball for too long — for the wrong reasons. He’s got to be more decisive. If you listen to the Friends of Bulger, you’d think he’s the only QB in history to get hit in the mouth. Please. I think the Rams will do a better job of protecting Bulger this season. I think Pat Shurmur’s version of the West Coast offense will put Bulger into position to get the ball out quckly. I think Steven Jackson and a more physical O-line will give Bulger a running game. It’s time for Bulger to start making plays.

                  The Release of Chris Draft: Seems to me that the Rams, who lack depth, could still use a guy who can start at any LB position, back up at any LB position, and do an effective job on the special teams. Draft was also a leader, and a guy who represented the franchise in a classy way with his considerable work in the STL community. It’s strange to cut a starter three days before the regular-season opener. It’s strange to bounce him and bring back a player, Quinton Culberson, who couldn’t make your final roster less than a week ago. I think the Rams could have found a better spot to save money and gain salary-cap relief. This was not a football decision. But all of that said, the team’s cap problem is severe. That this team will go into the first game with only 4 WR and 5 healthy LBs tells us all we need to know about the financial turmoil. Cap specialist Kevin Demoff has an excruciating task right now, to work through the huge pile of problems left...
                  -09-11-2009, 02:23 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
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