Friday, September 26, 2008
Jackson supports Bulger in discussing state of 0-3 Rams
ESPN.com news services
Team sources say benched St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger no longer wants to play for coach Scott Linehan.
Running back Steven Jackson says the locker room is "kind of on eggshells."
Such is life these days for the 0-3 Rams, who are trying to hold themselves together while preparing to face the unbeaten Buffalo Bills on Sunday in St. Louis.
Bulger, who was signed to a $65 million extension prior to last season, has refused to comment for three days since being benched in favor of 38-year-old Trent Green, who will make his first start for the Rams since 2000. Team sources told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Bulger is finished with the beleaguered Linehan, who knows his next loss could be his last.
Jackson called the benching of his teammate the "wrong decision" and added, "I'm not the only one who feels this way."
"You just rewarded this man with a new contract last year, millions of dollars, and you bench him. Then if things do not work out with Trent, you go back. I don't like it at all," Jackson told St. Louis radio station KLOU on Thursday night. "I think there's a lot more people that could take the blame for this. I don't think it's fair that one person takes the blame."
Rams running back Steven Jackson wasn't popping off during a radio show when he questioned Marc Bulger's benching. NFC West blogger Mike Sando explains. Blog
When Jackson met with the media after practice Thursday, he stuck to discussing his physical condition, saying his sore groin was fine and that he'd be at full speed Sunday. When he went on the radio, he talked about the big picture.
"The locker room is kind of on eggshells. It's unfortunate," he told KLOU. "We should be loose, we should be going out there playing football. But I think a lot of people right now are playing for their jobs.
"As far as fans listening, it's really hard to play for your jobs. We're not winning. Yes, it boils down to winning and losing in this business that we play in. But when you are playing not to lose your job, that is when you are not going to make plays."
Linehan said he will meet with Jackson to discuss those comments before Sunday's game.
"I haven't talked to him about it but I will," Linehan said Friday. "No comment on it. Again, we're in this together and we're trying to find solutions to what has not been a good start to the season with our record. To sit here and not make some decisions, which are hard decisions for a head coach, I would not be doing my job. I will take at some point soon time to talk to Steven about it. I have no comment further."
In addition to pulling Bulger from the lineup, Linehan also released Fakhir Brown, a starting cornerback the past two seasons and a favorite of defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Brown seemingly had not had a rougher start than a lot of his teammates.
Linehan restored cornerback Tye Hill after one game as a backup, promoted outside linebacker Chris Draft and could go with Clifton Ryan ahead of veteran La'Roi Glover at defensive tackle.
There's nothing to lose for a franchise that has dropped 16 of its past 19 games and has been outscored an average of 39-10 this season. St. Louis is hamstrung by a puny offense that has mustered two touchdowns while allowing 11 sacks, and a porous defense that is allowing 457 yards per game.
Linehan believes his players are not giving up. Last week, offensive coordinator Al Saunders defied reporters to identify any quitters.
"If we tank it right now, then we've already said we're done after a fourth of the season and we're going 0-16," seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Torry Holt said. "I don't think that's the case right now, I don't think anybody has tanked it, I don't think anybody's lost confidence."
Holt said Friday he and his teammates are still getting over Bulger's demotion.
"I was shocked, man, I was really shocked," Holt said. "I went up to Marc immediately and apologized to him as a receiver and for our receiver group and the offense for not making enough plays to give him an opportunity to stay on the football field with us."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.