Nestor Aparicio and I were chatting this morning on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST, and something interesting came up. While discussing the Baltimore Ravens’ addition of former St. Louis Rams QB Marc Bulger, “The Nasty One” suggested that John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome were concerned with the back injury Joe Flacco suffered late last season, and would have felt more comfortable having Marc Bulger backing him up than Troy Smith and John Beck had Flacco been unable to play late in the season or in the postseason.
Of course, I couldn’t help but respond by saying “Marc Bulger wasn’t on a football field late last season.”
I’m not trying to suggest that in any way is the signing of Marc Bulger a BAD move for the Baltimore Ravens. Instead, the perspective I am attempting to offer is that I don’t necessarily know that this is a GOOD move. Hence, I’m UNmoved.
Marc Bulger has had a nice career in the NFL. He’s thrown for over 20,000 yards; connecting for 122 TD’s and 93 interceptions. He’s twice made the Pro Bowl, and has lead his team to the playoffs twice in his career. At this point, he is clearly better suited as a backup than a starter, as he has played a full 16 game season just ONCE in his 8 year career.
Marc Bulger quite obviously has a better background than either Smith or Beck amongst the Ravens’ reserve QB’s. After Bulger (presumably) passes his physical and gets under contract next week, he will immediately be installed as the team’s number two QB. With that being said, I would be lying if I said I suddenly felt more comfortable about the team’s Super Bowl hopes with Bulger on the roster.
If Joe Flacco were to get hurt in Week 6 this season against the New England Patriots, the Ravens would PROBABLY be better served with Marc Bulger on the field a week later at M&T Bank Stadium against the Buffalo Bills than they would be with Troy Smith or John Beck. However, if Joe Flacco were to get hurt in Week 6, they would be in NO better shape come Week 13 when the Pittsburgh Steelers invade Charm City with Bulger under center than Smith or Beck.
Bulger is an upgrade, but don’t get carried away. At this point in his career, he’s a MARGINAL upgrade. He’s a quarterback who a month before Training Camp opens found himself unemployed. That isn’t a mistake. A slew of teams around the NFL made (or needed to make) QB moves this offseason, and none of them took a $3 million (or so) shot on Bulger.
The Arizona Cardinals are going to defend their NFC West crown with either Derek Anderson or Matt Leinart under center. The Cleveland Browns will try to improve in the AFC North with either Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace under center. The Carolina Panthers will have Matt Moore and/or Jimmy Clausen throwing the ball. The Denver Broncos will play either Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn or Tim Tebow this season.
Any of those teams could have acquired Marc Bulger. They didn’t.
Bulger has had a nice career, and would likely be better served in an offense with better weapons and with a solid O-Line; which is expected to be the case in Baltimore. If healthy, he may be able to have a level of effectiveness at this point in his career. Of course, that’s a big if.
But this is the backup QB position we’re talking about. This isn’t about whether Marc Bulger or Troy Smith is a better QB. I know the answer to that question. This is about whether or not Marc Bulger gets the Ravens closer to winning the Super Bowl than they were before they brought him in. I’m not so sure that’s the case.
I’m not trying to just be negative. I’m really not. I don’t want this to be taken as me saying I don’t “like” the addition of Bulger. That’s not the case at all. I don’t like OR dislike the move. I’m just not particularly moved by it whatsoever. I thought the Ravens were a Super Bowl contender before Wednesday, and I think they’re a Super Bowl contender on Thursday.
I think the MOST positive thing that could come from the addition of Bulger would be the departure of Troy Smith from the Ravens locker room. Smith isn’t going to get the team any more than a 7th round pick at this point (and probably a conditional 7th round pick); but subtracting Smith from the locker room would likely do wonders for improving the culture John Harbaugh has tried to create in Owings Mills.
As we discussed in May when Drew Forrester and I put together our “Month of Jerks” list, Troy Smith is not a great dude. His attitude in the locker room is rarely overly positive; and there’s no doubt that letting him go could be an “addition by subtraction” type of situation.
I still call myself “unmoved.”
And to be completely honest, I hope that we’ll never know. If Joe Flacco plays every snap this season for a team that wins the AFC North, it will never matter whether or not I was moved by a backup QB acquisition.
There’s no question that it’s the best case scenario for any Baltimore Ravens fan.