Is Sam Bradford about to have his fourth offensive coordinator in four years? The possibility exists. During Sunday's broadcast of the St. Louis Rams' loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Fox commentator Gus Johnson mentioned that Brian Schottenheimer, the Rams offensive coordinator, could be due for a move into the head coaching ranks.
Here's the quote in question:
"According to multiple NFL sources, this could be his last year as a coordinator," Johnson said, "a lot of teams looking at him as a potential head coach."
And here's the audio version, courtesy of TST's social media manager/guru Daniel Doelling, of it in case you think your eyes deceive you.
There could be more than a few teams looking for a new head coach after this season, turnover on the scale last seen in 2009. Teams from San Diego to Jacksonville and parts in between are expected to be in the hunt for new leadership. With only so many Jon Grudens to go around, several of those teams, especially the cheaper ones, will be seeking out an up and coming coordinator.
Could Schottenheimer be in the mix? If Johnson has his "sources" right, he might be.
Teams may want to think twice, and yesterday's performance by the Rams offense is a good example of why. Sure, they finished the game with a trio of late touchdowns in a comeback attempt, but the game was lost in the first half. Schottenheimer again strayed from using Steven Jackson as a running back, a curious moves that dooms the Rams every time.
As Bernie Miklasz noted, the Rams are 5-1-1 when Jackson has at least 15 carries per game. He had 13 rushing attempts yesterday.
St. Louis is scoring an average of 18.4 points per gamed, that ranks 28th out of 32 teams in the NFL. There are 27 teams scoring more points, on average, than the Rams. It's not exactly the kind of number an offensive coordinator can stand on when interview time rolls around.
Schottenheimer's performance as a coordinator also hinges largely on what happens with Sam Bradford, a big part of the reason the Rams hired him in the first place. Bradford struggled last year with Josh McDaniels' Joyce-like playbook and a cascade of injuries. The third-year quarterback is improving this season, but yesterday's game was also another reminder that the talented, young quarterback has some work left to do.
The Rams would have a hard time letting Schottenheimer walk. First and foremost, it would throw a big kink in the team's plans for Bradford, installing a steady, simple offensive system around him. They might have to give him a raise if he really does make it to the final round of head coaching interviews, assuming Jeff Fisher and Co. want him to stick around.
And if he does leave? Just how devastating would it be for Bradford? Obviously, it's not ideal. The Rams cadre of offensive coaches are outstanding specialists - guys like line coach Paul Boudreau, quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti and receivers coach Ray Sherman that have worked miracles this year - but none of those guys fit the bill as offensive coordinators. Cignetti might be the most logical candidate for internal promotion with a background as a college coordinator.
It's a little early to be sending Schottenheimer off to greener pastures. First of all, we don't know how much stock to put in Johnson's comments. The Rams offense simply hasn't produced much to make Schottey a star, though Mark Sanchez's struggles this year give make him look like a minor miracle worker.
We'll see what happens in two weeks when the season ends. I have my doubts. However, if the Rams offense builds on what it's done this season, I would expect to be having this conversation again next year with the outcome preordained.