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Meet Your Quarterbacks

First and foremost, welcome to Nick, one of our new writers for the 2009 season.  His other work can be found at Pitchers Hit Eighth, which is obviously a St. Louis Cardinals blog.

Without being too much of a downer in my first post here (thanks for having me, by the way), it doesn’t take a real historian to know what happened the last time a Rams QB had a broken pinky on his throwing hand.

Remember that image? Burned in your brain forever?

If it isn’t, it should be. Warner wound up going 0-6 in two horribly incomplete seasons, ultimately leading to his release and the demise of the Greatest Show on Turf.

Now Marc Bulger has a throwing pinky fracture. It’s not supposed to be regular-season threatening, as it was apparently not a full fracture through the finger, and the team appears fairly nonchalant about it.

Knowing the penchant for these sorts of injuries to persist, please humor the new guy, and let’s meet the remaining Ram signal callers.

The rest of the QBs are after the jump!

Kyle Boller

Chosen 19th in the first round of the 2003 draft out of Cal, Boller was meant to be the savior at quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens.

Now beginning his seventh season in the NFL, the fact that his 2004 sophomore season with the Ravens is widely considered his best speaks volumes about the struggles he has had.

Beyond those first couple of seasons in Baltimore, Boller seemed to never legitimately win the starting QB job, but always found himself in that role at some point. In fact, he holds Baltimore’s franchise records for all-time passing yards, most games played and most games started by a quarterback. He was replaced permanently twice with the Ravens, once by the late Steve McNair and once by now incumbent Raven QB Joe Flacco.

Boller has battled injuries, the latest one resulting in his departure from Baltimore. Given the starting quarterback’s job heading into the 2008 season, Kyle injured his shoulder in the preseason, was placed on the injured reserve list and missed the entire season as Joe Flacco led the Ravens to the playoffs.

Signed with the Rams as a backup to Bulger, Boller seemed ideally suited to that role as a guy who couldn’t keep a starting job and is coming off of a missed season because of shoulder injuries. Now he may be thrown into the fire. Again.

Brock Berlin

Berlin has followed a spotty college career with very little of a professional career.

One of the top rated quarterbacks in recent memory coming out of high school and with a cannon arm to boot, Berlin signed on with Steve Spurrier and the Florida Gators.

One year and obvious evidence that he wasn’t going to overtake Rex Grossman as the starter for Florida, and Berlin chose to transfer to in-state rival Miami where he could presumably take over seamlessly for departing National Champion Ken Dorsey (good golly there are a lot of mediocre pro QBs in this section!).

Berlin struggled with his decision making and couldn’t rely entirely on his arm to make plays for him anymore. The following season, 2004, was much better statistically for Berlin even as the team struggled.

Berlin went undrafted in 2005, was picked up on a free agent deal by the Dolphins, got allocated to NFL Europe, then was cut in the 2006 pre-season. Signed by Dallas in the 2006-2007 off-season, he was cut about two weeks later. The Rams signed Berlin one week later, on May 17, 2007.

He has been with the Rams ever since. Have you noticed?

Keith Null

Ah, the real wild card in the group.

The massive unknown.

The underdog.

A guy who arguably has no business being in an NFL huddle (yet) as a result of playing almost exclusively in a spread offense in college at the might West Texas A&M, Null didn’t embarrass himself in the Rams’ first exhibition game with the Jets.

At 6’-3” and 222 pounds, Null possesses the body of a prototypical NFL passer. He appears to have the instincts to play the position, based on his gaudy, school-record setting numbers at West Texas A&M.

From the NFL Draft prospects analysis page on Null:

Positives: Cerebral passer. Reads defenses quickly and rarely throws into coverage. Good understanding of the offense. Can look off the defender and check down to his secondary options. Good setup and delivery. Good accuracy in the short and medium range zones. Can hit the receiver in stride. Ascending talent with the size and experience worthy of developing.

Negatives: Comes from a spread offense. Has enough athleticism to handle the transition to a regular dropback scheme, but will need time. Questionable arm strength. Struggles to drive the deep out and too often sails deep passes. Was not invited to the upper level all-star games or the Combine and therefore has plenty of questions about his ability to adjust to NFL speed.

So let’s translate – smart kid, can get the ball off quickly and to the right man, accurate and good timing.

He might not be able to hit Donnie Avery on those go routes down the sidelines, needs to adjust to a traditional offense, may not be able to be as quick and accurate in the NFL as he was in DII ball.

Sounds a lot like the two previously discussed contenders for the job, doesn’t it?

I should clarify that I’m expecting (hoping a lot) that Bulger will be back for the opening game of the regular season. But in the meantime, the Rams and new head coach Steve Spagnuolo will have plenty of time to evaluate both their best option for these situations (injury replacement) this season as well as who might be a future Bulger.

I’m rooting for the rookie. After all, the Rams will soon need to start thinking about life after Bulger. Not that it’s imminent, but if they see any flicker of hope in Null, the next two to three seasons can be valuable for him in an apprentice role.

Who do you think will wind up the 2009 season as the Rams’ backup QB?

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4 Responses to “Meet Your Quarterbacks”

  1. Jeff Roman says:

    It’s interesting, but there are a lot of conflicting reports about Null coming out of college. I’ve heard his arm described as “live” in scouting reports, so we shall see for ourselves when he starts slinging the ball down the field this preseason.

    • Nick says:

      I can’t help but wonder if the conflicting reports are a result of Null’s limited exposure playing DII ball.

      Oh, and his QB coach at WTA&M was Ryan Leaf. That bodes well, right? 🙂

  2. […] If you feel like a history lesson, Nick at Ramsgab takes a look at the past accolades for our backup quarterbacks. Nostalgia, pinky fingers, and more. […]

  3. […] If you feel like a history lesson, Nick at Ramsgab takes a look at the past accolades for our backup quarterbacks. Nostalgia, pinky fingers, and more. […]

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