Monday, January 10, 2011

Josh McDaniels to the Rams?

Rams offensive-coordinator Pat Shurmur is believed to be the front-runner for the head coaching gig in Cleveland. Since Shurmur has never coordinated an offense that has cracked the top 20, the hiring is likely an attempt to ensure the development of Colt McCoy. They like what Shurmur has done with Bradford, and they want the same for McCoy. Even if he doesn't pan out as a head coach, having a solid quarterback developed and ready for the next ten or more years would be worth it.

That leaves a vacancy for the Rams. It is not typically ideal to put a young quarterback through two different offensive coordinators in his first two seasons, but there is nothings they can do about that if Shurmur accepts the job. However, the option of Josh McDaniels would make that inconvenience well worth it.

As an offensive-coordinator for the New England Patriots from 2006-2008, McDaniels has a 39-9 overall record as a coordinator. He coordinated one of the best offenses ever in 2007, when the Patriots blew everyone away with a 16-0 record, and Tom Brady had 50 touchdown passes. That team eventually lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl (a defense coordinated by Steve Spagnuolo at the time). But how amazing would it be for the Rams to have the same guy who called that record setting offense at coordinator, and have the defensive mastermind who stopped it as head coach?
McDaniels comes with an impressive resume.

McDaniels has also been known as a very quarterback friendly coach. Tom Brady performed like Tom Brady under McDaniels. But his first real challenge came when Brady was put on the IR in 2008, and was replaced by Matt Cassel, who at the time had not started a game since high school. He was able to get over 3,600 yards out of Cassel, as well as 21 touchdown passes.

It didn't end with Cassel. When McDaniels was head coach in Denver, and traded for Kyle Orton, Orton was formally a mediocre passer. He was instantly able to help Orton turn into a 3,000 yard passer; and last season, Orton performed like a top ten quarterback.

Even though McDaniels was not a success as a head coach, his offense in Denver was hardly the problem. His offense this past season ranked 7th in passing, and 13th overall. The run game struggled, but starting running-back Knowshon Moreno was injured for a good portion of the season.

Some people may be concerned over his player relations. His falling outs with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall ultimately ended in him sending those pro-bowl players packing. But it's hard to picture anything less, because when the head coach (34) is practically the same age as the players, it is hard to expect complete control. The idea of making someone that young a head coach was a disaster from the start.

So given that McDaniels is a quarterback friendly coach, and that every offense under his command (whether as head coach or coordinator) has had success, it is very possible that McDaniels is just what the doctor ordered for this anemic Rams offense. Obviously, if this hiring does take place, it is up to General Manager Billy Devaney to find some key offensive weapons, but the hiring would at least be a solid start.

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