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  • Rams should show caution

    Rams should show caution

    Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell
    [More columns]By Bryan Burwell
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    11/24/2009

    Seven years ago, the surprising elevation of Marc Bulger as a starting quarterback began quietly enough inside the Rams Park press room on a Monday afternoon, when Mike Martz came into the near-empty room clutching an injury report and cursing.

    "He broke his hand, damn it," said the white-haired football eccentric. "Kurt broke his bleeping hand."

    It was December 2, 2002, and Martz discovered through a belated x-ray that Kurt Warner had been playing for two weeks with a broken right hand. Warner would play one more season with the Rams, but his days as the Rams starting quarterback were numbered the moment Martz got that '02 injury report, and Bulger's tenure as his permanent replacement were about to begin.

    And now here it was another Monday afternoon, nearly seven years later, and Steve Spagnuolo was the bearer of similar bad news, clutching another injury report in his right hand.

    "Marc broke his leg," said Spagnuolo, peering down at the yellow slip of paper. "They're calling it a tibial plateau

    fracture."

    There was no cursing this time, just a simple matter-of-fact dispensing of the news. But buried between the lines of Spagnuolo's dispassionate delivery of the facts was a rather fascinating example of the cyclical nature of life in the NFL:

    Marc Bulger's days as the Rams' starting quarterback appear to be ending in almost the identical fashion in which they began.

    This hairline fracture just below his left knee is a six-week injury, and there are only six games left in the season. So do the math. Unless Rams management decides to bring him back as a caretaker for a yet-to-be-drafted quarterback of the future, the 32-year-old Bulger a two-time Pro Bowler who began his career with the Rams with a three-year 27-12 record as a starter has probably played his last game for them.

    Because he and Warner will be forever linked (and how coincidental was it that his last game as a Ram was played on the same field with Warner?), I hope Bulger is lucky enough to find some similar success in his NFL life after the Rams. After a rags-to-riches rise from a sixth-round pick (by New Orleans) who spent his first year bouncing around the NFL practice squads, then developed into a Pro Bowler under Martz's tutelage, Bulger spent the last last five seasons getting beaten up and worn down with a chronic case of battered QB syndrome on some historically bad teams (15-44 as a starter since 2005).

    And while all the Bulger bashers are reveling in his downfall, I hope he ends up getting a second life on a good team next season. That's what I'm rooting for.

    As the bashers are celebrating life without Bulger, I'm hoping the Rams understand that just because Bulger is probably on his way out, that doesn't automatically mean that a first-round QB is in their immediate future.

    I know it's quite popular to assume that there is no other reasonable alternative for the Rams this spring than to use their high first-round pick likely to be among the top two or three selections barring a mad late-season winning streak on a young QB and build around him for the future.

    Not so fast. Beware of drafting a QB high in the first round for need. I will give you several reasons:

    Alex Smith.

    Akili Smith.

    Tim Couch.

    Cade McNown.

    Those are the sort of disastrous mistakes that can set a franchise back five or six years, and the Rams can't afford another five years of bad football.

    You need to be absolutely sure with quarterbacks in the first round or you'll get burned. If the Rams do their homework and they believe that there is an absolute can't-miss guy right there at the top of the draft, then by all means do it. But who is that guy? Would you risk a top three pick on Sam Bradford now when he won't be able to even begin working out after his knee operation until six weeks before the 2010 draft?

    The two QBs everyone keeps bringing up that the Rams should have drafted over the past few years are an interesting case study in why taking a quarterback based on need is such risky business. Jay Cutler looks like a classic head case with a load of unfulfilled potential who might end up getting the general manager and head coach in Chicago fired. According to several reliable NFL sources, the word out of New York is that the Jets personnel department still isn't sure that Mark Sanchez has shown them enough as a rookie to lead them to believe that he is their certain quarterback of the future.

    So as deep as this '09 QB class is supposed to be, every one of these prospects has huge question marks hanging over his head. There's no argument that the Rams need to find a young quarterback for the future, but they certainly don't want to hand this team over to an inexperienced kid who might be a lot closer to Alex Smith than a young Peyton Manning at a time when there are so many holes in this offense that even a future Hall of Famer would struggle running it.

    Here's a smarter plan. Find yourself a game-breaking pure No. 1 wide receiver (Dez Bryant?) to fill that glaring offensive need, or a beast of an interior defensive lineman (Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh?) or another nasty linebacker or game-breaking safety who will become can't-miss Pro Bowlers and shore up the chasm-like gaps in this interior run defense. It's time for the Rams to start hitting home runs drafting so high in the first round, and by reaching for a quarterback just to fill a need, the pathetic streak of picking only one player this decade in the first round who became their Pro Bowl player (Steven Jackson) is sure to continue.

    If the QB draft class is as deep as the draftniks say it is and if this revamped personnel department is as astute as I suspect it is the Rams will find an adequate young arm in the second or third round.

    But in the first round, I don't want adequate.

    We've seen enough "adequate" around here to last a lifetime.

    It's about time to draft another star.
    :ramlogo:

  • #2
    Re: Rams should show caution

    I agree. No QBs for our first pick. too many other needs right now.
    The Rams... Where dreams go to die.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rams should show caution

      I agree, the qb class is deep this year and there are limited teams that want a qb this year(see AV's thread about that). We NEED a sure fire sucess, only problem is how do we make sure they are a success? We better check out all past injuries on this guy whoever he is, or he might be another carriker. Alot of potential sitting on IR. That being said, i have expressed undying intrest in Suh as our first pick. I say suh first, QB second.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Rams should show caution

        Positions of need, IN ORDER OF CRITICALITY:

        1. DT
        2. DE
        3. OLB
        4. RB
        5. TE

        Areas of least concern

        1. WR
        2. S
        Last edited by RamsInfiniti; -11-24-2009, 09:58 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Rams should show caution

          Originally posted by RamsInfiniti View Post
          Positions of need, IN ORDER OF CRITICALITY:

          1. DT
          2. DE
          3. OLB
          4. RB
          5. TE

          Areas of least concern

          1. WR
          2. S
          Some i agree with others i dont. For me it goes like this.
          1.DT
          2.OLB
          3.QB
          4.DE
          5.CB

          Least concern
          1.S
          2.FB
          3.RB

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Rams should show caution

            Originally posted by RamsInfiniti View Post
            Positions of need, IN ORDER OF CRITICALITY:

            1. DT
            2. DE
            3. OLB
            4. RB
            5. TE

            Areas of least concern

            1. WR
            2. S
            Wow. This is exactly the same order of priorities that I also arrived at.

            Hmmm..have you been sneaking a peek at my notes?


            WHAT SAY YE?

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Rams should show caution

              Originally posted by RAMarkable View Post
              Wow. This is exactly the same order of priorities that I also arrived at.

              Hmmm..have you been sneaking a peek at my notes?


              WHAT SAY YE?
              Both of you left out QB .. With Boller playing out the last of a one year deal, and Marc likely having played his last game as a Ram, that leaves only Keith Null. Clearly we're going to need a QB. Let me say right now that I would not wish us to use our 1st rd pick on a QB, but after that, 2nd or 3rd would be ok, unless we trade for a vet, or sign one through FA.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Rams should show caution

                Originally posted by MauiRam View Post
                unless we trade for a vet, or sign one through FA.
                And that is exactly what I've been thinking we should do. Of course a lot of my thought processes were before this news on Bulger's latest injury.

                But, I am still not convinced that Marc won't be here next year. He's still got 3 years left on his contract and unless we pull a Johnny Unitas out of the blue, he may still be a our best option in the short run.:ram:

                WHAT SAY YE?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Rams should show caution

                  Originally posted by MauiRam View Post
                  Both of you left out QB .. With Boller playing out the last of a one year deal, and Marc likely having played his last game as a Ram, that leaves only Keith Null. Clearly we're going to need a QB. Let me say right now that I would not wish us to use our 1st rd pick on a QB, but after that, 2nd or 3rd would be ok, unless we trade for a vet, or sign one through FA.
                  QB is of little or no concern to me this offseason if the other things are not addressed ...

                  There is a reason that Matt Ryan is Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco is Joe Flacco in their rookie years ...

                  There is also a reason that Matthew Stafford is Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez is Mark Sanchez in theirs ...

                  The other pieces need to be in place ...

                  I am fine with Bulger returning next season, or Boller, or a FA ...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Rams should show caution

                    This article pretty much summarizes exactly how I feel. Glad Marc has been here. Sorry that it hasn't worked out recently and that he broke his leg for this team. Yes I said for this team, he played a football game with a broken leg, if that doesn't say that he's playing for this team then nothing does. Hope for the best of luck for you and that you can find somewhere nice to play.

                    Unfortunately I just can't see us keeping him. His age, combined with his injuries, combined with his recent play, fans out cry for a new quarterback, I just can't see us paying him the money to stay.

                    As for areas of concern:
                    1. DT- We are getting killed on defense, and it all starts up front
                    2. QB- With Bulger gone, we NEED one. I don't trust Boller or Null
                    3. RT- Alex is not going to be returning next year, Smith slides over. Need quality RT to keep this line moving in the right directoin
                    4. RB- Jackson can only take this much abuse for so long, we need a reliable 2nd guy to come in for him and give him a break, and know that the #2 guy can get us yards
                    5. DE- Little is going to stay for another year, giving us time to groom his replacement, and thus not as big of a cause for concern. Of course if Little leaves, then DE moves ahead of RB
                    6. OLB- Lenon. Enough said

                    Least Concern-
                    1. S
                    2. WR- Like what I have seen so far, minus the injuries. We also have Brooks Foster who was injured early on and we haven't seen much of him.
                    3. OL- minus RT (see above)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Rams should show caution

                      Originally posted by RamsInfiniti View Post
                      I am fine with Bulger returning next season, or Boller, or a FA ...
                      It will be interesting to see how our FO views this .. We have so many holes, that bringing back Bulger for another year may be the answer, although this does not factor in cap implications. If we could get significant cap relief by parting with Marc, that would allow us to address other needs. Boller back again? Maybe .. if he lights things up from here on out, but from what little I've read and heard, Boller isn't a guy the Rams are that high on. QB is a need, but so are all the others .. It will ultikately boil down to who Spags and the FO feel can help our team the most - right away!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Rams should show caution

                        Originally posted by MauiRam View Post
                        It will be interesting to see how our FO views this .. We have so many holes, that bringing back Bulger for another year may be the answer, although this does not factor in cap implications. If we could get significant cap relief by parting with Marc, that would allow us to address other needs. Boller back again? Maybe .. if he lights things up from here on out, but from what little I've read and heard, Boller isn't a guy the Rams are that high on. QB is a need, but so are all the others .. It will ultikately boil down to who Spags and the FO feel can help our team the most - right away!
                        What sense would it make to cut Bulger during an uncapped season?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Rams should show caution

                          Originally posted by RamsInfiniti View Post
                          What sense would it make to cut Bulger during an uncapped season?
                          Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought the current salary cap isn't set to expire until after the 2010 season ..

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Rams should show caution

                            Alex Smith.

                            Akili Smith.

                            Tim Couch.

                            Cade McNown
                            Glad you didn't put my boy Vince Young there yet. He's resurrected his career. He's going to show everyone who doubted him that he's matured and can really play in this league and if you don't believe me I don't care.

                            That's why maybe, just maybe going for a QB isn't that bad a thing IF Bulger stays.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Rams should show caution

                              Originally posted by eldfan View Post
                              Not so fast. Beware of drafting a QB high in the first round for need. I will give you several reasons:

                              Alex Smith.

                              Akili Smith.

                              Tim Couch.

                              Cade McNown.
                              .
                              jamarcus russel?
                              brady quinn?
                              and I personally would add marcos sanchez

                              Comment

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