Poor Marc Bulger. The embattled St. Louis Rams starting quarterback muscled through his best game of the year last week, nearly upsetting the undefeated New Orleans Saints. For some, that just wasn't enough.
Football Outsiders runs down the week's individual performances in their "Quick Reads" column, and for once Bulger's numbers stood out as above average. His total DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) was 124 yards, meaning he waas worth 124 more yards than a scrub off the bench. That was good enough for 7th best for week 10. His Pass DYAR was 120 yards, and his rush DYAR was 5 yards. That wasn't good enough for FO, who said:
If this was the best Marc Bulger had left, well, it's good, but not good enough. His conversion on fourth down to Brandon Gibson to extend the game with 1:21 left nearly ended it; he saw an open receiver and promptly hit him in the shoelaces. Converting four of the 12 third downs he faced wasn't particularly impressive, especially considering the good situations he was being placed in by the effective running of Steven Jackson -- on those third downs, he had an average of 7.2 yards to go. That leaves a fair amount of makable ones that weren't, especially considering that one of the plays he converted was his 29-yard touchdown pass to Donnie Avery on third-and-15.
Ouch. I can't pin the loss on Bulger, but I can't excuse him totall either. A game that close could have been decided by any one play, and ugly dropped balls from McMichael and Amendola get make great targets to point you inger at too. However, it is clear that Bulger's skill set is fading, reflected in diminished accuracy and some questionable decision making, i.e. the mid-field check downs on the two minute drill. Yes, I wonder what he might have been able to do with just another better-than-competent WR to throw to. More and more it looks like his best course for the future is a backup on a well-stocked team.