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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Bernie Bytes: Experienced Coordinator Best For Rams

    Bernie Bytes: Experienced coordinator best for Rams

    BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
    Friday, January 14, 2011 10:40 am

    READING TIME, 5 MINUTES:

    * Former Minnesota head coach Brad Childress and former Denver coach Josh McDaniels are the big names being linked to the Rams' opening for an offensive coordinator. McDaniels has remained silent, though we do know he interviewed for the Minnesota's vacant offensive coordinator job on Leslie Frazier's staff. And Childress, who is interviewing for the Miami Dolphins' OC position this weekend, seems to have an interest in joining his buddy Steve Spagnuolo in St. Louis.

    Childress told our friend Howard Balzer (Team 1380, The Sports Xchange) that he hadn't spoken to the Rams as of Thursday, but believes that will change. "I figure I'll be hearing from Spagnuolo," Childress told the H-Man. "That would be a great opportunity, and to work with people I respect like Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney and the way they are putting that organization together."

    * Sounds as if Chilly is campaigning a little. Why would he want to sign on with the Dolphins, who aren't sure about their QB position for the near and intermediate future? The presence of Sam Bradford as a franchise piece -- with his best days ahead of him -- makes the Rams job appealing. Or so we would think. If he has the desire to become an offensive coordinator, could McDaniels really do better than to link his future to Bradford's? Again, I wouldn't think so.

    * But suppose Spagnuolo has different idea? Suppose he decides to take a pass on the big-name candidates and go with a more low-profile offensive coordinator? I have no idea as to who that might be, but it's always fun to play the guessing game.

    * There are a few interesting names being bandied about by media. Like Mark Whipple. He was the QB coach for Ben Roethlisberger in Big Ben's first three NFL seasons. Whipple was an offensive assistant to Andy Reid in Philadelphia. He most recently was in college football as the offensive coordinator for the Miami Hurricanes. He was believed to be the front-runner for the Connecticut HC job, but negotiations broke down. There are all sorts of guys out there with the Reid or John Harbaugh or NY Giants connection. Another is Chris Palmer, who has been an NFL coordinator in multiple spots. He has a good rep. He was on the Giants' staff with Spags. There's Jim Zorn, who was hired by Harbaugh in Baltimore after being fired as Washington's HC. There's James Urban, the current QBs coach under Reid in Philadelphia. Again: I'm just throwing names out there. I have nothing to go on.

    * Let's talk about this from an overview standpoint: I think the Rams have to go with an experienced OC. Bradford's continued development is critical to the franchise. He was terrific as a rookie, with one of the best first-year QB seasons in NFL history. But Bradford -- as he would be the first to tell you -- still needs plenty of work. He has a ways to go. And the Rams have to ensure that they bring in someone that can elevate Bradford to a higher plane among NFL quarterbacks. If Bradford stays the same or regresses, the Rams would take a step back in 2011. So doesn't it make sense to avoid reaching for a relatively inexperienced coach that would have to learn how to become an offensive coordinator? You'd have a rookie coordinator coaching a young QB. Is that a good idea?

    * Obviously -- and what an unfortunate waste of time that I even have to point this out -- but there are no absolutes here. The 1999 Rams gave Mike Martz the OC job and he had never been an NFL coordinator. It worked out great. But circumstances were different than this. Martz had an extensive history with the Rams and their front office and key veterans such as Isaac Bruce. He wasn't a newbie. He wasn't a stranger. Team president John Shaw and head coach Dick Vermeil surmised, correctly, that Martz was a fast riser, and ready to move up.

    * It's also true that Spags hired Pat Shumur as OC in putting together his Rams' staff in 2009. But that's different; Shurmur and Spagnuolo were friends and colleagues (in Philadelphia.) And the Rams didn't have Bradford in place then. Bradford has changed everything, including the job requirements for this OC gig.

    * That's why I think, ultimately, we'll see Spags go for experience when he makes this hire. Unless, of course, Spags wants to have that inexperienced guy in the job. Why would he do that? Well, an inexperienced OC would be easier for the HC to control. But the Rams must do what's best for Bradford. And I don't think I want to see a learning-on-the-job guy placed in charge of Sam's ongoing development.

    * The Rams also need to make this hire quickly, for a simple reason: the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL owners and players expires March 3. A lockout would begin the next day. It would be good for the new OC and Bradford to have some time working together before (and if) the league shuts down.

    * By the way, here's Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf of CBS, a guest on my 101 ESPN radio show, on who the Rams should hire: "Brad Childress is a heck of a coach," DD said. "If you have a chance to hire Brad Childress, I would jump on it."

    Moving on ...

    * Not that you care, but my NFL picks for the weekend:

    -- Pittsburgh over Baltimore ... the Ravens won in Pittsburgh earlier this season, but Charlie Batch was the QB. Roethlisberger will be there this time. He's tough to beat at home. The Steelers are the stingiest run defense in the NFL, allowing 3.0 yards per carry. They lead the NFL in sacks. The Steelers' edge rushers, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, have combined for 20.5 sacks and 65 QB knockdowns and hurries. And I don't like the way the Baltimore offensive tackles have been protecting Joe Flacco.

    -- New England over the NY Jets ... good luck trying to beat Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in an important home game. It happened in last year's playoffs, with Baltimore winning at Foxboro. But as I explained earlier in the week, circumstances were dramatically different then. (No Wes Welker, for example.) Will the Jets try to blitz Brady? They had mixed results this season when doing so. Brady threw two INTs against the Jets blitz early in the season when the Patriots lost at the Meadowlands. But later in the season, when the Patriots demolished the Jets by 42 points at Foxboro, Brady completed 13 of 19 passes for 244 yards and 3 TDs (no picks) vs. the blitz. The Jets backed off and dropped extra guys into coverage to hold Peyton Manning and the Indy offense down last week. Is that the way to go? Either way, I just can't go with the idea that Mark Sanchez will beat Brady in Brady's yard.

    -- Chicago over Seattle ... The Seahawks won in Chicago earlier this season, but the exceptional Lance Briggs didn't play for the Bears in that one. And the Bears hadn't established a bruising running game, either. The Bears are much more physical and creative with their running game now. In the last nine games, the've actually had more rushing attempts than passes. In the first meeting, Bears OC Mike Martz went nutz on the pass, and the Bears completely lacked balance. It made it easier for the Seahawks to blitz and sack Jay Cutler 6 times and hold the Bears to 0-12 on third downs. All six sacks came on the blitz that day, and you have to think that the Bears will make corrections and clean up their pass protection. Seattle will be coming after Cutler. Wouldn't you? Do you trust Cutler? Probably not, but RB Matt Forte should be more prominent in the rematch.

    -- Atlanta over Green Bay ... I wrestled with this one most of all. Dang, Green Bay's defense has done some awesome things this season. The Packers are fast and really good on defense, having allowed only 15 pts per game; only Pittsburgh (14.5) is better. The Pack also has the league's third-best sack rate, and are 6th in takeaways. It took a late drive and last-second FG for Atlanta to beat Green Bay at the Georgia Dome earlier this season. And James Starks -- who perked the GB running attack with 123 yards in the win at Philly last week --wasn't even active for the previous game against Atlanta. But I like that solid, steady and mostly unshakeable Atlanta offense. The Falcons are 3rd in the NFL in time of possession. They're the league's least penalized team. They are third in the NFL with a +14 in the turnover ratio. They have the league's third-most efficient scoring offense, getting points on 39.3 percent of their possessions. And Atlanta has power back Michael Turner, who has rushed for 1,371 yards and 12 TDs this season. And Green Bay -- so quick, but also light -- has given up 4.7 yards per rush this season. That's one of the worst marks in the league. I could be wrong, but I think Atlanta's steadiness and power will edge out Green Bay. Some of those old Atlanta legs probably benefited from the week off, too. Atlanta likes to get physical and having a week to freshen up give them a boost.

    Have a great weekend.

    -Bernie


  2. #2
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Experienced Coordinator Best For Rams

    Seriously... who replaced Bernie last offseason? He's actually made sense all year long...

    I absolutely believe that the Rams need an experienced guy for two reasons. First, so he's not learning on the job, teaching Sam at the same time. If he is inexperienced, he's got to have a firm hand in the WCO, because if he's not super set on it, then he won't be helping at all. Essentially, the new inexperienced guy needs to be Shurmur's clone from 2009(10 years as QB coach in WCO).

    Second, harking back to one of Bernie's reasons as to Spags maybe wanting an inexperienced guy: control. Spags needs, in my opinion, an OC who WILL steal control from Spags from time to time. He needs to know when to keep the foot on the defense's throat, and when we can let up and chew clock. Too many times this season, whether it was Shurmur or Spags' decision, we let up early and let the other team back into the game, which usually led to us losing the game. In all seriousness, we need to copy New England a little bit and just never stop trying to score. This is not pop warner, or high school, this is the NFL. If you want us to stop scoring on you, stop us FROM scoring on you. Sometimes Belicheat goes a little far with it, but overall, we need to get his killer mentality.

    All this adds up to, in my opinion: McDaniels...
    I believe!

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    MACD is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Experienced Coordinator Best For Rams

    Well, Bernie was two for four in his picks. I was 1-4.

  4. #4
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Experienced Coordinator Best For Rams

    Don't push the envelope too much there, Bernie. Has anyone ever said that what we really needed was an inexperienced offensive coordinator who would take time to figure out what he was doing? Has that ever been "best for the Rams"?

    And how exactly does the John Harbaugh connection relate to the Rams? It's true that Harbaugh and Spagnuolo were defensive coaches on the Eagles together, but why would that be relevant to our search for an offensive coordinator? IMO, the fact that Jim Zorn was Harbaugh's quarterbacks coach in 2010 doesn't suddenly put him in the Andy Reid coaching tree. Cam Cameron, Harbaugh's offense coordinator, doesn't even run the same type of West Coast Offense that Shurmur did.

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