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Thursday, August 7, 2008
On the record: Protecting Bulger

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

As much as the Rams need Steven Jackson in camp, they need quarterback Marc Bulger in one piece. With that in mind, I asked Bulger about pass protection during a recent stop at Rams' training camp at Concordia University in Mequon, Wis.

Al Saunders, your new offensive coordinator, has promised to protect you better. How can he make that happen?

Marc Bulger: We got (guard) Jacob Bell (in free agency) and we're getting 'Big O' (Orlando Pace) back and so we have some better personnel coming back if we can stay healthy. I think the way he does that is through different kinds of protections. Because of our personnel last year, we were limited to five or six protections. The defenses started attacking the protections rather than just doing normal blitzes. They would see our one-back set and know who we were assigned and they would know how to attack it. This year, we have between 40 and 50 protections. It's more of a crapshoot for the defense to know who is releasing and who is staying in and whether the tight end is blocking. We can confuse them more and dictate to them more rather than letting them just come up and tee off.

Do the improvements reflect the scheme or personnel?

MB: It's both. This offense is known for having a ton of protections, putting more pressure on the quarterback (to master them). But certainly with five linemen on IR and Alex Barron was the only one who didn't miss any games last year on the line, you have a guy coming off the street and he has to start the next week ... we had to go back to bread and butter: scat, turn jet, everyone knows those protections. There is not much you can do when you have that many injuries and in the NFL. They are going to exploit that.

Note: "Scat" and "jet" are terms used to describe basic pass-protection schemes. Terminology can change across coaching staffs.