And with a nod to our indie pop fans out there, we can now begin to discuss in earnest the St. Louis Rams search for a new offensive coordinator.
Driving the speculation about who that person might be is whether or not the Rams will pick a guy with a background in the West Coast offense to maintain some continuity with Pat Shurmur's offense and the young players, i.e. Sam Bradford, who spent a year or two learning it.
Popular Zeitgeist says that sticking with the same playbook would make the most sense for Bradford and the offense, along with the necessary infusion of playmaking talent at WR and backup RB. Group think has started to give way on that in the days since Shurmur emerged as the likely choice for Cleveland, especially as talk of Josh McDaniels as a candidate for the job gained acceptance among the chattering classes.
Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo weighed in on the matter yesteday, and it doesn't sound like being a doctrinaire West Coast offense disciple is among his top priorities for the Rams' next OC. From the coach:
We've got to get the right person, whoever that is. Whether it's within (the organization). Or it's outside. There's more than one guy with any offense. But if you're talking about the quarterback, Sam's pretty flexible to anything. And the one thing about the offense that we did have, it was very flexible. It asked the quarterback to do a lot of different things. So we'll go through the normal (hiring) process here, talk with some people, and do the best thing for the team obviously.
Yes, that involves some reading between the lines. However, it sounds as though Spagnuolo is pretty confident in his quarterback's ability to adapt and learn whatever system the next OC brings to the table.
In case you forgot, Spagnuolo is a defensive coach. And even though he earned his stripes under Andy Reid, there's nothing to make us believe that Spagnuolo is West Coast iconoclast. By his own admission, Spags has made an effort to be more involved in the offense since taking the reigns in St. Louis, partially as a student. The head coach's most obvious preference for the offense was to play conservative and let his defense to the yeoman work of holding on to the lead. Spagnuolo was conservative with his defense during his first year in St. Louis, as we've mentioned before, so with an increased comfort level in his offense and the right injection of talent around Bradford, it stands to reason that the head coach would be more open to expanding the playbook and taking some risks.
Speaking of the components of the Rams offense already in place, they would seem to fit well with McDaniels' style, though a foundation of talent like Bradford and Steven Jackson would probably fit in any scheme. Bradford's experience at OU was in an offense more akin to what McDaniels has run, 3-4 receiver sets, one back or an empty backfield and lots of shotgun snaps. Up front, the Rams have an athletic offensive line whose strength is pass blocking. McDaniels, if hired, would be involved in bringing in the needed wave of talent at WR and backup running back. The new OC would also have a pair of talented tight ends in Fendi Onobun and Michael Hoomanawanui who don't yet have a lot of experience in the Rams' previous offensive system thanks to injuries that marred their rookie years.
I'm stuck on the McDaniels thing, which obviously reveals my particular bias, but the point of this post isn't really to endorse him or any particular candidate. The point I'm making is that the Rams don't necessarily have to stay with the exact same offense. They have a solid foundation to expand upon, and the head coach doesn't seem inclined to make the West Coast offense his primary arbiter in his hiring decision.