As soon as Pat Shurmur starts answering questions it becomes abundantly clear why and he Sam Bradford worked so well together. Shurmur is as even-keeled as a man can be. Unfazed. Flat but with a fully featured personality. He is an older, wiser carbon of Sam Bradford. For all the talent the St. Louis Rams sophomore quarterback posses, I have my doubts that his transition to the NFL and his ability to set records starting all 16 games as rookie would have been possible without Shurmur.
Shurmur wanted to talk about new beginnings in Cleveland, but questions about Sam Bradford were impossible to avoid. As he fielded those questions, the depth of the indelible relationship sempai and kohai was writ large on Shurmur's face, even with in that supine tone.
Not surprisingly, he assured everyone listening that if anyone could handle a transition Bradford could. No doubt. Bradford possesses the deadly combination of brains and talent, more importantly, he's unshakable, overcoming everything from bad games to a career-threatening shoulder injury.
Last night, Shurmur, Spagnuolo, Ron Rivera and Leslie Frazier all got together for dinner, a reunion of Andy Reid proteges. That steak dinner was a good reminder of just how important the relationship and similar philosophies were key to rejuvenating a Rams franchise in decay.
The transition to watch in St. Louis this year isn't a new playbook for Bradford, it's Spagnuolo and his new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. McDaniels is a fiery guy, young and mercurial, a far cry from Shurmur's wise owl persona.
Anyone wanting to scapegoat Shurmur for the Rams conservative offense is out of luck. That was all Spagnuolo, and the coach has been pretty open about that. McDaniels isn't likely to accept any limitations on his wide open offense. Can Spags trust him enough, someone he hasn't worked with, to allow more risk-taking with his offense? He'll have to.
In New England, McDaniels worked for Bill Belichick, a control freak's control freak, and managed it pretty well. Since then, he's had a taste of running the show his way. Hopefully, his time in Denver was a humbling opportunity for personal growth. On the flip side, Spagnuolo has two years of captaining his own ship, and his team has more experience and talent than it did when he took over and in his second year when he had rookies in key offensive positions. Has Spagnuolo learned to trust his offense more since then?
Stay tuned. It stands to reason that the Rams will be a better team this season, something that also carries increased expectations. When adversity does strike, how will the two coaches handle it? The answer will be key to the Rams future.