I’m one of those Ram fans that has reluctantly concluded that the NFL is a quarterback driven league. I used to be among those that said if you built great offensive and defensive lines, got a running back and played defense, you could win. I defended this position by noting that guys like Trent Dilfer, Bob Griese and Brad Johnson won Super Bowls. You can still win that way, but you can’t win big.
Just look at the Super Bowl winners lately. Ben Roethlisberger twice, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, a mature Tom Brady. Aside from winning Super Bowls, the common denominator among those quarterbacks is that they’re exceptionally competitive. If you’re in a close game in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter, don’t you just know those guys are going to win the big game?
This brings us to the Rams Marc Bulger. Between 2003 and 2006, he put up numbers that would rival the big boys. He made a couple of Pro Bowls. His career completion percentage rivaled Kurt Warner and Chad Pennington for the best of all time. His passing yards were, on a per game basis, literally the best of all time. Did he provide those comebacks? Sometimes. There was a great one in Chicago in 2003, the magical miracle of Qwest Field in 2004,
the playoff win in Seattle that season, and the stirring first win in Washington
More times than not, Bulger…for various reasons…hasn’t been able to stage comebacks on a regular basis. And in the last two years, as the team has crumbled around him, Bulger has had horrendous seasons. Thanks to colleague Bernie Miklasz, we glean that in the last two seasons, Bulger is 37th in the NFL in touchdown percentage (2.7%), 34th in interception percentage (3.4%), 39th in yards per attempt (6.25 ypa), 37th in completion percentage (57.7) and 38th in passer rating (70.9). Those, to me, are astounding statistics.
If the offensive line and the running game are fixed, I have little doubt that Bulger can rebound to post solid numbers in the future. But if he starts leading comebacks and lifting the team on his shoulders to win games, that’ll be something we haven’t seen from him to this point. Think of the way Brady, Eli Manning, Warner and Roethlisberger have played in the closing minutes of the last two Super Bowls. They’ve all led their teams to late touchdowns to take the lead or win the game. I’m rooting for Bulger, but have my doubts that he can do that. Can we really expect him to accomplish things he has yet to accomplish in seven seasons as a starter in the NFL? I’d love to say yes, but I can’t.