Marc Bulger is very lucky to have a two-time MVP as a friend. He shouldn’t need luck this week to keep his friend on the bench.
Bulger overcame a poor first half last week, improving to 13-3 as a starter when the Rams rallied for a 23-21 win over the lowly Chicago Bears.
With St. Louis trailing 14-3 at halftime, Mike Martz considered pulling Bulger and asked Warner if he was ready to go in. Warner, who lost his starting job earlier this season, suggested the coach stick with Bulger.
“He said ‘Coach, I’m ready to play, I’m excited about playing, but I’ve been in this situation before and you stayed with me. I think Marc deserves it,”’ Martz said.
Bulger went 18-of-25 for 139 yards and two touchdowns in the second half as the Rams won for the sixth time in seven games.
“I’m very pleased where he was in the second half,” Martz said. “He came out of it, and he brought himself out of it.”
Bulger had trouble against Chicago’s pressure, getting sacked four times and throwing two interceptions. That should not be an issue Sunday.
Arizona has totaled a league-low nine sacks, its five interceptions on defense are tied for fewest in the NFL and its minus-17 turnover ratio is easily the league’s worst. The Cardinals have surrendered 72 points in their last two games, including last week’s 44-6 defeat to the Cleveland Browns.
That loss and Arizona’s horrific play for much of this season has put coach Dave McGinnis’ job in jeopardy.
“People have to realize, starting with me, that this is very serious,” McGinnis said. “You’re talking about your livelihood. You’re talking about something that you’ve invested your whole life in.
“You’re also talking about something that, if you don’t perform, can be taken away from you—I’m talking about the coaches, I’m talking about the players.”
Now McGinnis has to worry about a St. Louis offense that may be about to break out following its strong second half last week.
Marshall Faulk may be ready for a big game after recording his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season. Faulk, who missed five games with a broken hand and injured knee before returning two weeks ago, had 103 yards on 20 carries as St. Louis improved to 28-0 when he runs for at least 100 yards.
“We are learning more about each other, more about ourselves as a team and where we are headed,” Faulk said. “It’s the trials and tribulations of a young team.”
While Bulger has struggled at times and Faulk hasn’t always been healthy, Torry Holt has been outstanding all season for the Rams.
Holt leads the league in receptions and receiving yards, and is tied for the lead in touchdown catches. The star wideout is unlikely to practice this week due to an ankle injury, but is expected to play Sunday.
“I’m not worried at all,” Holt said. “It’s just something that I will have to continue to get treatment on and continue to stay on top of it and I have no problem with that.”
Injuries are a big problem for the Cardinals’ rushing attack. Emmitt Smith practiced Wednesday for the first time since breaking his left shoulder blade nearly seven weeks ago, but is unlikely to play. Leading rusher Marcel Shipp is so bruised and battered he couldn’t practice Wednesday.
Shipp’s biggest injury problem, he said, is ruptured bursa sacs in both arms.
“It hurts pretty bad,” said Shipp, who had 100-yard rushing games in Arizona’s only two wins since September. “If you touch it right now, I might scream, but game day’s a different story.”