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Mailbag: What to do with Bulger

Gabe from St. Louis writes: Regarding to bringing QB Marc Bulger back for the 2010 season, I have a question which to me would be key to whether or not he should come back. Is there a strong possibility that Bulger will be released to save money and then re-signed for a much less contract? Personally, if that happens, I would be all for it because the biggest issue with Bulger is his contract. His play is less than average, don't get me wrong, but at this point we have no other options. If that isn't even possible, then why?

Mike Sando: Yeah, there's no way at this point he'll return for his $8.5 million salary. The team might have even made a change last offseason if Bulger's contract hadn't called for so much of his 2009 money to be guaranteed. I question whether Bulger would take that kind of cut to come back. He might be better off getting a fresh start someplace else. The issue for the Rams is whether they could find another quarterback just as good for, say, half the money.


Tjh1328 from Tamarac, Fla., writes: You fellow Rams fans need to understand football. You like to blame Marc Bulger for all our problems. The offensive line is horrible and has been bad and/or injured over the past five years. The defesive front stinks and has for a long time. DO NOT BLAME BULGER. This orginization has no clue on how to manage the salary cap. Look around the league at all the ex-Rams on other rosters. Teams like New England, Pittsburg, Indianapolis, the Giants, etc., are always competetive, because they know how to use the salary cap. So please blame the correct people.

Mike Sando: There's plenty of blame to go around, but much of it goes to people no longer with the organization. The new cap manager, Kevin Demoff, had quite a mess to clean up. I think he is doing that. The question would be whether the Rams pared back too far. In retrospect, they might have, but let's say they had found a way to keep a few more players and it got them, say, two or three more victories. Would you be happy?

As for the offensive line, it has improved quite a bit. One thing Bulger doesn't always have is a great feel for moving within the pocket. I noticed that Sunday when Kurt Warner moved around and bought time despite being 38 years old and not very fast. If I were to defend Bulger, I would point to learning a new system, dropped passes and a poor situation at wide receiver.


Richard from Ann Arbor writes: With all due respect to Mr. Atogwe, the Vikings loss was not the only time the Rams were "outmatched" on the field. When you get blasted by the Colts 42-6, you were outmatched.

Mike Sando: Peyton Manning is a mismatch for everyone. I think Atogwe was referring to the physical skills of the Vikings at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. They have special athletes in all of those spots. I don't think the Colts have as many off-the-charts physical specimens. Manning lifts up the whole offense even when they change parts.


Morgan from Phoenix writes: Hey Mike, I love your input and news you provide on the NFC West. I was just wondering do you really think Matt Leinart is a bust or do you think he'll be more comfortable when the offense will be his when Kurt Warner is gone. I was just wondering what you thought his future is with the Cardinals' organization.

Mike Sando: I would not call Leinart a bust. My take is that he needs to play a little better when given the opportunity. He'll definitely be better when he gets more extended practice reps and has a chance to grow through playing time. Only then will we find out whether he's a bust.


Dustin from Phoenix writes: Hey Mike, love your stuff, man! Keep up the good work! One question for you. On all the conference standings, they show Dallas ahead of the Cardinals. Now, they are both 7-3, so I looked up the tiebreaker on NFL.com and it states that the first tiebreaker comes down to head-to-head record (they don't play each other) and the second tiebreaker is division record, in which the Cardinals are 3-1 and the Cowboys are 2-1. I didn't major in math, but I'm pretty sure 3-1 is better then 2-1! Let me know if there is something I don't know about this matter.

Mike Sando: Thanks, Dustin. The tiebreaker you cited would break a tie between two teams within a division. The broader wild-card tiebreaker goes to conference record at that point. The Cowboys are 6-2 against NFC teams. The Cardinals are 5-2 against NFC teams.


Pete from Columbus, Ohio writes: Love the blog. It is my "go to" for distilled news on my beloved 49ers. This may be a few days late, but I was a bit curious about the referee ruling that the 49ers' late challenge was not honored. Although it may not have made a difference, the ball was clearly spotted half-a-yard too far forward. That half-yard, plus using the timeout, could have made a difference. Is there some sort of standard that a challenge for a spot that the error must be egregious? When the line is so finite for rulings around the end zone, does it not extend to other parts of the field?

Mike Sando: Thanks, Pete. These spot-of-ball replays are among the most frustrating for coaches. The rulings seem so arbitrary, particularly when challenged from the booth. You could look at just about any play and move the ball a few inches one way or another.


Tanner from Southern California writes: Sando, I'm gonna call it right now. Mike Holmgren and Bill Cowher will be in Seattle together next season. Holmgren as GM, Cowher as head Coach. That would be gnarly.

Mike Sando: If the Seahawks bail on Jim Mora after one season, they had better hit a home run. I do not see it happening.


Derrick from Chandler, Ariz., writes: Sando, what do you forsee the situation being with the Seattle linebacking corps next season with the emergence of David Hawthorne's motor? Do you really think he'll be around on the bench after Lofa Tatupu returns?

Mike Sando: Lofa Tatupu would start over Hawthorne, yes. Tim Ruskell told the team's Web site the coaches would consider using a 3-4 front if they had the personnel.


RZ from San Francisco writes: Hi, is Singletary's insistence on smash-mouth football, combined with Jimmy Raye's conservative play calling, handicapping the Niners on offense? Alex Smith is no Montana, but over the past few games, it seems like the coaches stubbornly stick to a conservative philosophy until the Niners are down several touchdowns.

Mike Sando: They do not think Smith is ready to carry an offense. Do you? Game dynamics change when one team has a fat lead. Defenses start playing against the clock. Things open up downfield as a result. I think the 49ers need to improve their offensive line.


Dacoyda from Honolulu writes: Hello, Mr. Sando. I have a question/comment. Everyone talks about injuries on good or above average teams, right? Well, the Rams aren't good at all, obviously, but nobody talks about the Rams' injuries. I mean, the Rams had a stretch about a year-and-a-half ago where they had 33 people injured for the season and 13 were on IR. I havent seen any other team try and do that and do good, so how come nobody ever talks about why the really bad teams may be bad?

Mike Sando: We did hit on the Rams' injuries recently. Add Bulger to the list.