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Peter King on the "Wonder Boy" McDaniels
Rams, Earth City, Mo.: The Boy Wonder is back.
Josh McDaniels is not chastened. He had his shot at a head coaching job in Denver, and it lasted two years, and to put it mildly, he crashed and burned. Denver was 6-20 in his last year and a half, and the franchise, frankly, was worried about things like season-ticket renewal and the continuing loyalty of suite holders. No one believed in McDaniels at the end.
You can say whatever you want about his errors, and much has been said. The Broncos should not have paired the strong-willed McDaniels with a first-time general manager (Brian Xanders) who was a good scout but didn't have the experience to stand up to a coach. A more experienced GM could take some bullets for him and tell him he was making some big mistakes, as when he hired his brother, Ben, out of high school football to coach the quarterbacks. It wasn't that Ben was a bad coach, but the clear perception in the locker room was that nepotism was at play. There are things a young coach shouldn't do, but no one in the organization told a first-time head coach who looked like he was 23 that he was making mistakes -- and he made plenty -- until it was too late.
"I think I know what happened,'' McDaniels said in his office here, "but I learned to understand there are things you can control and things you can't. Here, I can control this. It's a perfect place for me.''
I asked if his confidence had been shaken by the experience in Denver.
"Nope,'' he said. "Not one bit. I appreciate the experience. I appreciate what the Broncos allowed me to do, and it's made me a better coach. It made me a better person, I think. And it made me a little more aware of how an entire organization works. I can take a step back and see how different organizations function, and see how different structures work. I know when I got the interview here, Steve Spagnuolo was a guy I really wanted to work with, and when I left after spending 10 hours here, I called my wife and said, 'This is it. This is the place I want to be.'
"Not only did they have the quarterback in place, obviously, with Sam Bradford, a guy who has the chance to truly be special. But there was a structure in place that I could learn from, a coach I could learn from, a front office I could learn from.''
On the practice field, even in only the third week they've been together, McDaniels and Bradford look to work well together. "We're not going to just run plays,'' McDaniels said. "We're going to USE players. And Sam is good -- you can tell -- in using all aspects of this offense.''
McDaniels hasn't ripped up the departed Pat Shurmur's West Coast Offense. In the short period he's had to fold some of his concepts into the Rams' 2011 playbook, McDaniels has asked a lot of Bradford. Under Shurmur, the center made the line calls and identified the middle linebacker, for purposes of offensive symmetry. Now it's Bradford's job, and you can see him in practice, pointing out the middle 'backer ("53's the mike!'') and surveying the secondary pre-snap to get a good read of what he's going to do when the ball's snapped.
"Josh's mindset is, if the defense wants to play us a certain way, fine; we'll do something else to make plays,'' said Bradford. "What I like about the offense is there always seems to be an answer.''
Immediately, McDaniels will try to fold in some more downfield concepts. Bradford had the lowest average completion among starting quarterbacks last year -- Ram receivers had a 9.9 yard-per-catch average last year -- while McDaniels' receivers in Denver were at 12.9. Take a look at the Rams receivers, and you don't see a proven deep threat among them. But Brandon Lloyd was roster flotsam in Denver before last year, and he finished with an 18.8 yard average on 77 catches. It can be done.
"I couldn't care less about my average, about my stats,'' Bradford said. "I'd just like to score more.''
If the Rams are held to 20 points or fewer 13 times this year -- as happened last year -- I'll be stunned. McDaniels, for now in his niche, should be able to see to that.
Re: Peter King on the "Wonder Boy" McDaniels
I agree with you. I would not be happier with any other OC out there. I think its going to be mid season till we are trully clicking. Then, they better watch out..
Re: Peter King on the "Wonder Boy" McDaniels
I still think we should have got Burress... he looks really good in New York ( AFC) right now...
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