Behind Enemy Lines: Part I

Our experts, John Crist of Bear Report and Ryan Van Bibber of Turf Show Times, venture Behind Enemy Lines for a peek at Sunday's game between the Rams and Bears in Chicago.

John Crist: Marc Bulger signed a six-year, $65 million extension during the summer of 2007, but St. Louis hasn't gotten much return on its investment so far. He has been beaten up because of a bad offensive line and doesn't have the weapons he used to, but is there another reason for Bulger's rapid decline?

Ryan Van Bibber: Years of abuse, a new offensive system and inexperienced wide receivers have made Bulger a shell of the QB he once was. The contract itself wasn't so bad at the time. The decision not to improve the offensive line at the same time made it a waste of money.

JC: The Bears thought they were getting a one- or two-year stop-gap at left tackle when they signed Orlando Pace in free agency. However, the future Hall of Famer has been a disaster and unable to so much as finish games recently. Was there any indication in St. Louis that he would be this bad?

RVB: Absolutely. Pace had spent the better part of his last three seasons with the Rams dealing with injuries. The organization couldn't justify keeping him on the roster for a large sum of money and no good insurance policy. The Rams decided to start their rebuilding process focused on the offensive line, and Pace wasn't in the plans.

JC: The Rams have been equally atrocious on both sides of the football so far in 2009, but Steven Jackson has enjoyed a tremendous campaign at the tailback position. Just how good has he been considering the dearth of talent around him? And is there a recipe for slowing him down at all?

RB Steven Jackson
Getty Images: Dilip Vishwanat

RVB: Give the new line and fullback Mike Karney some credit for Jackson's amazing season. Still, Jackson has fought his way through eight- and nine-man fronts to run for 100-plus yards. No, you can't slow him down, but you can beat the Rams in every other facet of the game.

JC: Pace wasn't the only former Ram that Chicago added to the mix, inking Pisa Tinoisamoa to be the third amigo next to Pro Bowlers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. He looked great before injuring his knee, so why was he considered expendable when Steve Spagnuolo took over as head coach?

RVB: Tinoisamoa didn't fit the mold of tough, physical linebackers Spagnuolo and defensive coordinator Ken Flajole want for their system. He also carried a pretty large contract. The Rams haven't really missed Tinoisamoa, certainly not as much as they've missed Will Witherspoon.

JC: While I have long considered Jacksonville to be the franchise that will eventually move to Los Angeles, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that the Rams head back to the City of Angels. With fan support dwindling each and every week, what are the odds St. Louis loses this team?

RVB: It's definitely a possibility, though it seems the new owners are more committed to finding a buyer who wants to keep the team in St. Louis than people seem willing to give them credit for. Much of what happens will depend on the stadium issue. The Rams' lease contains a clause that the Edward Jones Dome has to be among the top qaurter of facilities in the league by 2014. That's not going to happen, so they'll have to find some work-around for that. I think owner Chip Rosenbloom would like for the new owners to deal with that issue, especially if it comes down to asking for public money to build a stadium – not a popular topic in a city with 10-percent unemployment right now.

To read Part II of this Behind Enemy Lines series, where John answers five questions from Ryan, Click Here.

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