Winless Rams shake things up, will start Green at QB vs. Bills

Updated: September 23, 2008, 9:51 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Marc Bulger is out as the St. Louis Rams' starting quarterback after producing only two touchdowns in three games, and 38-year-old backup Trent Green is in.

The benching of the Rams' highest-paid player, announced by coach Scott Linehan in a terse, two-paragraph release on Tuesday, signals just how desperate times have become for the sagging franchise. Linehan is 11-24 in his third season, including 0-3 this year.

Last week, Linehan was told by new owner Chip Rosenbloom that improvements need to be made or that changes would be forthcoming. This is Linehan's first head coaching job at any level, earned off success as an offensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings, and he was a quarterback in college at Idaho.

The team said in the release that Linehan would not comment on his decision until after practice Wednesday. The Rams, who play the Buffalo Bills at home on Sunday, were off Tuesday.

More changes to come?

The Rams' first change in course has come at quarterback. Marc Bulger, right, will take a seat on the bench as St. Louis tries to right its moribund offense.

Rams' 2008 offensive ranks
(out of 32 teams)
Pass ypg 146.0 27th
Points 9.7 31st
Total ypg 202.3 31st
First downs pg 11.7 32nd

"Scott made an announcement, and he'll amplify it tomorrow," team spokesman Rick Smith said.

The Rams have lost 16 of their past 19 games while getting outscored 116-29. The point total would not have been enough to win any of the first three games, and their mediocre 240-yard total in Sunday's 37-13 loss at Seattle was still a season-best for the league's lowest-ranked offense.

Linehan had hinted at possible changes during a news conference on Monday.

"I forsee evaluating everything," Linehan said. "What they are right now does depend on the health of our team in spots, but I would think that anything's possible at this point as far as our lineup."

Linehan added that he was tempted to make moves just to shake things up.

"Yeah, I think we'd be crazy if we didn't try something different because what we've done for the first three weeks is not working," the coach said.

NFC West blog

Reading between the lines, ESPN.com's Mike Sando says the decision to go with Trent Green at QB could mean offensive coordinator Al Saunders would be next in line to coach the Rams if Scott Linehan is fired. Blog

• Blogs: NFC West | NFL

Green has experience under new offensive coordinator Al Saunders and quarterbacks coach Terry Shea, possible reasons for the switch. Green earned his second Pro Bowl berth in 2005 with the Chiefs while working under those two coaches, throwing for more than 4,000 yards.

Green started for the Chiefs from 2001 until being sidelined by injuries midway through 2006. The start will be his first since the fifth week last season for the Miami Dolphins.

Green is from St. Louis and he, not Kurt Warner, was supposed to be the starting quarterback on the 1999 Rams team that won the Super Bowl, signing as a free agent after a successful year as the Washington Redskins' starter the previous season.

Warner was thrust into the starting role after Green was sidelined with a season-ending knee injury during the preseason.

Bulger, 31, has been the starter since 2002, stepping in when Warner was sidelined by injuries. He became the highest-paid player in franchise history after signing a six-year, $65 million contract extension on the first day of training camp in 2007.

Last year Bulger had only 11 touchdown passes, with 15 interceptions, while working behind an injury-ravaged line and missing four games because of injuries. He's been beaten-up again this year, absorbing 10 sacks the first two games while appearing somewhat skittish at times in the pocket, although the Seahawks sacked him only once in Sunday's 37-13 loss at Seattle.

In his past 31 starts dating to 2006, Bulger has been sacked 97 times.

Bulger was 18-for-31 for 184 yards with one touchdown and an interception on Sunday, his third consecutive game with less than 200 passing yards.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press