The St. Louis Rams new offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, held a conference call with the media on Tuesday. It was his official introduction to a public curious about what the moribund Rams offense might look like under new leadership in 2012. Schottenheimer also spent a great deal of time talking about the quarterbacks.
One of his first matters of official, sort of official, business was a meeting with Sam Bradford.
Bradford's struggles this season aside, Schottenheimer walked away with a very positive impression of the prodigious young passer.
"I was blown away with how excited he is about the upcoming year and he just seems like a terrific young man," Schottenheimer said. "I obviously spent a little time looking at him when he was coming out of college and things like that. But we had a very nice visit and I'm thrilled to have a guy like that that we can build around."
The new OC made it sound as though he was in the midst of an extensive tape session, reviewing the roster he's inherited. As for his quarterback, Schottenheimer refused to compare him to Mark Sanchez, the first-round pick he coached in New York, but you could feel a genuine sense of excitement about the opportunity to work with a quarterback of Bradford's caliber.
"Obviously, he's extremely gifted, extremely talented," Schottenheimer said. "As I'm watching the film, getting the sense of how accurate he is with the football and how well he actually moves around and has made plays. That was one of the things that jumped off the film at me. I've been around a lot of young quarterbacks, but I think this guy's got a chance to be real special"
Schottenheimer will be working with Bradford plenty, but not exclusively. He echoed his new boss Jeff Fisher on the need to bring in a quarterbacks coach to work directly with Bradford.
"I think that that's something that was one of the first things that Jeff and I talked about. It's something that I really, truly believe in as well," he said.
That's a relief. The notion of salvaging talented players from three years in the wasteland has been a constant theme in Fisher's discussion of the Rams' future, and it's been evident in the coaching hires he's made so far. The presence of Bradford was a key factor in luring Fisher to St. Louis, and he and his staff realize the need to get him playing up to his potential.
"I have a background with quarterbacks and I have a way that I believe that it should be done," Schottenheimer said. "Because there are so many things that come across your plate as the play caller and the coordinator, and you need to make sure you kind of have your hands in everything, you need to have somebody for Sam or any of the quarterbacks to be able to go to and be hearing the same voice."
As for when that quarterbacks coach will be hired and who it might be, Schottenheimer mirrored Fisher's stated approach for hiring a coaching staff: patience and selectiveness over haste
"We will take our time," Schottenheimer said. "We will obviously look at a lot of different people and it will be a very, very important hire just like all the staff hirings will be for us."
We'll see what happens on the field, but it was encouraging to hear both Fisher and his OC stress again and again their belief in Sam Bradford to be the franchise quarterback for years to come. Comments about pass protection and the need for a quarterbacks coach are also a key tell that they believe they have some work to do in order to get Bradford back on track.