Since arriving to training camp in late-July for his first practice as a member of the Ravens, Marc Bulger has spent the last four months side-by-side with Joe Flacco.
As the only two quarterbacks on the Ravens' active roster, Bulger and Flacco are in meetings together, they're next to each other on the practice field, and they converge on the sidelines during games to talk strategy and go over alignments and formations.
As a result, Bulger has gotten a better view of Flacco than nearly anyone. And so far, the Ravens' backup quarterback has nothing but positive things to say about the third-year signal caller who has the starting job in Baltimore.
"He's a quarterback that is willing to learn and is getting better every week," Bulger said. "I think there's some quarterbacks in this league that can make things that are easy look difficult, and others that can make things that are really difficult look easy. And I think that's what Joe does. I just know from a quarterback's perspective, he makes things look so natural on the field, and then you look on film at how impressive it was."
Bulger worked with his share of top-notch quarterbacks during his nine seasons with the Rams - he spent three seasons alongside a possible future Hall of Famer in Kurt Warner, and got to watch Trent Green, a guy who threw for nearly 4,600 yards in a season earlier in his career, operate as well.
Emotion-wise, Bulger says Flacco resembles Green and himself more so than the demonstrative Warner (which should surprise no one), but Bulger believes it's Flacco's level-headed, calm style which will allow the Delaware product to have prolonged success in the NFL.
As we all remember, Flacco threw a career-high four interceptions in a Week 2 loss to the Bengals earlier this season. Some questioned how he would respond to that effort. Well, he's responded by throwing 14 touchdowns to just two interceptions in the seven games since, and posting a quarterback rating well over 100.
Bulger says even behind the scenes after the Bengals loss, Flacco "bounced back from that performance like it was nothing", and started preparing for the Ravens' next game.
"There's no quarterback in this league that's going to go 100 percent or not throw interceptions, and when [Flacco] does, they just don't bother him," Bulger said. "I think that's a great attribute to have in a quarterback. Whether coaches are getting on you, or the fans, or the media, or the other team, as a quarterback, you're going to have that pressure. And for him to deal with it as well as he does, it reflects and kind of spills off to his teammates, which helps the team."
One of the reasons that the Ravens signed Bulger as their backup quarterback, other than the fact that he's a reliable, proven option should something happen to Flacco, is that Bulger would be able to pass on some wisdom from his nine seasons in the league to the younger, less experienced Flacco.
Bulger says that he tosses a few pointers or ideas Flacco's way here and there, but he's careful not to make it sound like he's masterminding the Ravens' offense from the sidelines.
"I don't want to overrate my impact on him, because he's playing great on his own and he doesn't need me," Bulger said. "There are some things that I try to explain to him. Maybe it helps, maybe it doesn't. But Joe's doing just fine on his own.
"With a guy that gets real excited or gets too down on himself, maybe that would be my job, but fortunately I haven't had to do too much to help him out this year because he's doing such a great job."
Bulger says that he and Flacco have similar demeanors, which certainly comes across after spending time around both of them.
Both are somewhat reserved, laid-back type guys who won't seek out attention in public or through the media. They go about their business, and are beyond dedicated to the game and their team.
We see that from Flacco on the field and during interviews, but when asked if there's a different side to the Ravens starting quarterback when the cameras aren't around, Bulger cracks a smile.
"I think he's pretty much what you see is what you get," Bulger said. "Obviously, we have a good time in our meeting room. We laugh with [quarterbacks coach Jim] Zorn, and we keep it light, but like I said, when things were going great, he doesn't get too excited. When we lose a game, he doesn't get down.
"He's consistent, and it's not exciting sometimes for the fans or the media, but I think for our football team, it's a really good thing."