Should Bulger play?
With four games left in a disappointing season, whether to start the Rams $65 million quarter back against the Packers this week is a more pertinent question than "can he play?" Bulger practiced at full tilt yesterday and the team is optimistic about his status for Sunday. (Where have we heard that before?) The main difference this time around is that Linehan's holding off on making any official pronouncement on the QB's status until Friday, exactly a week after we learned that Bulger wouldn't be available after all for the Cincy game.
Protecting the Rams investment is a makeshift offensive line (although it sounds like Romberg will return this week) that has allowed 40 sacks so far this season. That's a sack rate of 8.6% (26th in the NFL); meaning that 8.6% of all Rams passing plays this season have resulted in a sack. I can only imagine what that percentage would be if I were smart enough to figure in the number of times opposing rushers have hurried the QB or otherwise penetrated deep enough to disrupt the QB.
Concussions are a particularly problematic injury for an athlete because it can be difficult to nail down just how well a player has recovered. In fact, determining when an athlete is ready to play again is a fairly controversial subject in the medical community, underscoring the debate among the fan and pundit community.
Bulger, if healthy, will want to compete, as would almost any NFL player regardless of the season's record. And if he passes all the medical tests and feels good after practicing - remember he passed the medical tests last week and felt good until Thursday's practice ended - then the team really doesn't have any choice BUT to start Bulger. Is starting him a good decision? That remains to be seen. If he's sacked again - and you can safely bet that he will be - we'll all wince at crazy thoughts of Frerotte starting 16 games in 2008. However, if he does pass the appropriate tests and practices don't take a heavier toll on the walking wounded QB than would be typically expected, imagine the fall out if the Rams don't play him and the game winds up being decided on a few suspect plays by Berlin or Frerotte.