Josh McDaniels, the St. Louis Rams new offensive coordinator, has a history with Rams TE Daniel Fells. Both McDaniels, during his tenure with the Broncos, and his old boss Bill Belichick courted the restricted free agent this time last year. That appears to bode well for Fells' place in the Rams offense this season.
As we mentioned yesterday, the hangup with Fells is related to the CBA. Ticketed for unrestricted free agency under the four-year rules, but likely a restricted free agent if the league gets put back on the no-cap rules under court injunction. (Sando had a good take on McD and tight ends yesterday, but didn't mention Fells and McDaniels' prior interest in him).
McDaniels shipped of a pretty good pass-catching tight end in Tony Scheffler as part of his purges in Denver. There's lots of room for debate as to whether had more to do with personal matters as opposed to his offensive approach. In 2009, Scheffler had 31 catches for 416 yards and 2 TDs. He had a 62 percent catch rate and 28 percent of his targets were deep. Denver had little in the way of tight ends last year. In 2008, prior to McDaniels, Scheffler had 40 receptions and 645 yards, but was targeted deep 40 percent of the time.
Last year, Fells had 41 catches for just 391 yards and 2 TDs. He did have a career best 63 percent catch rate. Dig this: he was targeted deep just 7.7 percent of the time, doubtlessly the result of the Rams short-field offense. (Stats from Advanced NFL Stats).
So what will Fells' role look like in McDaniels' offense this season? Probably something more along the lines of what Scheffler did in 2009, though probably with fewer targets since Michael Hoomanawanui looks like the starter...and a guy with sticky hands. At the very least, Fells should see more deep balls compared to the Rams incredibly short passing game of 2010.