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Can Bulger bounce back?

Somewhere along the way Brett Favre fumbled his pride, or maybe that's the problem, too much pride. Either way, I've tired of the whole saga, the daily back and forth in the media. I always liked Favre, and even the Viking face painters would have to admit he's one of the greatest to ever play the game. And this happened. The great Brett Favre became just another self-important, petulant athlete, more Chad Johnson than Bart Starr.

Ok, enough ranting... Let's talk about our QB, the decidely non-petulant Marc Bulger. Like so many others on the Rams, he's facing questions about his health, and we're all waiting with baited breath to see how he looks in camp after a season taking snaps behind a wet paper offensive line and continued beatings normally reserved for tackle dummies or Lions quarterbacks.

Bulger started just 12 games last season and got sacked 37 times. Still, that wasn't a career high; that came the season before, in 2006, when opponents sacked Bulger 49 times. That's a lot of abuse, and you can see why some are more reserved in their expectations for Bulger, who suffered a concussion, always a tricky injury and one he took some time to recover from, last season. (backing him up is another concussion sufferer, Trent Green.)

But, hey, that's what all those pads are for, right? Bulger's healthy now and was able to go full tilt at mini camp back in May. Expecting him to return to form isn't unreasonable. Old friend Orlando Pace is also healthy and ready to reassume his role protecting Bulger's blind side this season too. With just a week and some change before camp starts, we can at least expect status quo from Marc Bulger, who's capable of being one of the best passers in the league when he's on.

In browsing through the news at RotoWorld, I noticed they had a feature on projected pass attempts, and project Bulger to throw the ball more than 500 times, one of seven QBs projected to do so. Bulger made 588 attempts in 2006, a season where the Rams played from behind more than a few times. However, it was also a season that featured a healthy Steven Jackson, who takes away some of the team's need to pass with his running ability.

And, for me anyway, that's the what the question about how many attempts Bulger makes this season hinges on: Steven Jackson at the center of an Al Saunders offense. You're not exactly walking out on a rickety limb to say that the Rams figure to run more this season. That idea drove what probably rates as their biggest free agent signing, the addition of G Jacob Bell. The spread as primary offensive formation days in St. Louis are gone, and the team once known for the air attack, has become a run first team. Fine with me, but how will that effect Marc Bulger this season?

First, of all, it should help him. More rushes means less pressure on Bulger, less work. That's a good thing, especially since he's got a few years left on that contract he signed before last season. Second, and this is where we get into the numbers, I don't think the Rams QB will make fewer pass attempts; I think alot of those pass attempts though will be shorter passes, shovels to Steven Jackson and dumps to McMichael over the middle, rather than the big routes that got Rams receivers deep behind defensive fronts.

During Saunders' stint in Kansas City (and I use that comparison because there was a more stable QB situation across the state than during his 2 years in DC), Trent Green had 500+ passing attempts in all but one season, 2002; however, the running backs, full backs and tight ends caught almost 50% of the completed passes during those seasons. Nevertheless, Saunders didn't have weapons like Torry Holt during his OC'ing days in Kansas City. The Rams have a great balance of skill players, and you can be sure Saunders' gazillion page playbook uses all of them.

It's still a new era, so we'll see what's in store.