Two broken ribs. Obviously, that had something to do with the passing game we saw this week, but I'm not so quick to let the coaches off the hook for the game plan and play calling. In a refreshingly honest moment, it sounds like Olson isn't letting himself off the hook either.
Bulger's ribs aside, the Rams offense succeeds when they stretch the field with weapons like Holt and Bruce. They haven't done much to stretch the field at all this season, except for a few brief moments in week two against San Fran. With Jackson fighting his way to some yards, they should have been able to at least keeping Buc rushers from over committing on a few plays, which would have been the perfect time to air it out just a bit.
Unless, Bulger's rib injury is at a point where he can't throw comfortably enough to make deeper passes. That may very well have been the case, but if it were I think Olson or Linehan may have offered that information in their assessment of the game plan.
It's also reasonable to debate whether or not the Rams should have started Gus Frerotte in what was probably the team's most winnable game of the first half of the season. Bulger could have used the time to rest and heal his ribs ahead of a tough game this week against one of the NFC favorites in Dallas, where the Rams will have to use every play their capable of to win the game. Frerotte had a fine preseason - one of the few who did - and we know from experience that he can make the throws he needs to make, long, short and in between. With Jackson and the running game figuring so heavily into their game plan against the Bucs, resting Bulger and starting Frerotte would have been even easier. Hell, Olson and Linehan's play calling was so ridiculous a decent high school QB might have been able to do what they were asking.
I can't find the quote, but ahead of last week's game there was quote from someone on the Rams' staff that bruised ribs and broken ribs equate to about the same amount of pain. Obviously, they were trying to justify - most likely to themselves as much as anyone - their decision to start Bulger knowing that he had two broken ribs.
The question now is how healed will Bulger be by Sunday?