ST. LOUIS Unless he needs treatment for an injury, Marc Bulger normally doesn't come into Rams Park on Tuesdays. But he got a call Monday night from quarterback coach Terry Shea, and almost before the words were out of Shea's mouth, Bulger knew what was coming.
He was being benched in favor of Trent Green at quarterback for Sunday's game against Buffalo, and most likely beyond. Bulger got the official word from coach Scott Linehan at a 10:30 a.m. meeting Tuesday. The meeting was brief and Bulger quickly left Rams Park.
Literally minutes after the meeting ending, the Rams sent out a news release announcing the change. It was a curious move because just last week, Linehan said that announcing any lineup changes early in the week or at all served no purpose.
As expected, Bulger was not happy about the demotion. But he declined to comment Tuesday. Several hours later, the new starting quarterback pulled away from Rams Park.
"I'm excited," Green said, but deferred further comment until Wednesday.
Green was told the news by Linehan on Tuesday, the players' usual day off, then came in and met with Shea and offensive coordinator Al Saunders. Late in the afternoon, he pulled out of the facility with some scouting report information on the Bills. But as is usually the case, he didn't get the game plan until Tuesday night.
Linehan did not return a phone message Tuesday. But apparently when he said Monday that "we'd be crazy if we didn't try something different" after the team's 0-3 start, he wasn't kidding. It remains to be seen if this is the week's only lineup change, or if more are on the way.
The Rams rank 31st in the NFL in total offense (yards per game), and only Cleveland (26 points) has scored fewer points than the Rams' 29. Bulger ranks 22nd in the NFL in passer rating, but his 73.2 rating is still better than fellow Pro Bowlers Peyton Manning of Indianapolis, Carson Palmer of Cincinnati and Matt Hasselbeck of Seattle.
In most of the major statistical areas, Bulger ranks between 15th and 24th among NFL quarterbacks.
Bulger's completion percentage is down to 58.4 percent, which would be a career low over a full season. He has thrown only two touchdown passes but also has thrown only two interceptions. Although the pass protection was better against Seattle, Bulger has been sacked 11 times in three games, which would translate to 59 sacks over a full season.
This season, Bulger began working with his third play-caller (Saunders) in the last 13 months. The Rams' feature back, Steven Jackson, is averaging only 3.2 yards a carry following a 27-day contract holdout.
For the past two games, the offensive line has featured starters at center and both guard positions who were not projected starters at the beginning of training camp. Injuries have slowed the development of rookie wide receivers Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton. And starter Drew Bennett went down with a broken foot in the first quarter of the season opener.
Without a proven second option at wide receiver, seven-time Pro Bowler Torry Holt has faced frequent double-teaming and has only 11 catches for 122 yards, the slowest start in his 10-year career.
So whatever the shortcomings may or may not be in Bulger's play, they haven't taken place in a vacuum.
Bulger frequently has been looking over his shoulder since Linehan was hired to replace Mike Martz in 2006. First, there was speculation about Daunte Culpepper coming to St. Louis. Then came talk about the possibility of drafting Jay Cutler. (The Rams took cornerback Tye Hill instead.)
Then came last March's signing of Green, who obviously is close to Saunders from their time together in Kansas City. (Team sources say the decision to bench Bulger came from Linehan, not Saunders.)
Quarterback benchings have been few and far between since the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995:
Tony Banks replaced Steve Walsh after three games in 1996.
In 2003, Bulger replaced Kurt Warner after one game. Warner suffered a concussion in Week 1 that season, but Bulger kept playing long after Warner was healthy.
And that's it. What happened last season was kind of a gray area. After a particularly rough day against Dallas, Bulger was replaced the next two games by Gus Frerotte. Bulger had a rib problem at the time but wanted to keep playing.
For Green, 38, it will be his first start since Oct. 7 of last season at Houston, when he suffered a season-ending concussion playing for the Miami Dolphins.