It's been an eventful last 24 hours for the Rams' new offensive coordinator. During that time, Josh McDaniels was linked to the Rams, then supposedly off the table for them, then linked to the Seattle Seahawks, and then finally came full circle and landed back in St. Louis.
What does this mean for their chances of winning the NFC West in 2011? They already came close in 2010, does this move put them over the top? Well, that's why they play the games, but we can certainly take our guesses.
One thing McDaniels is known for is his work with quarterbacks.
He first gained notoriety as the quarterbacks coach for the New England Patriots, where he helped hone Tom Brady's skills and guided Matt Cassel to a terrific season as the Pats' quarterback when Brady went down with an injury in 2008.
When he moved on to the Denver Broncos, McDaniels took charge of Kyle Orton and say whatever else you will about the Broncos over these last two years, but Orton has been quite effective, enjoying his best two seasons.
Now he'll be placed in the role of mentor to Sam Bradford, the most promising young quarterback in the league. It can only mean good things for St. Louis.
McDaniels was a hot commodity in 2009 when he was picked to lead the Denver Broncos.
At just 33, he was younger than some of the players, and rather than that allowing him to connect better with his team, instead there was friction right from the beginning with some of his players, like star wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
At first, winning healed all wounds, as the team got off to a perfect 6-0 start in 2009. But it was all downhill from there, and the season ended with a resounding thud. Denver went just 2-8 the rest of the way and missed the playoffs.
Things never really improved after that. Marshall was eventually exiled to Miami, but Denver never really gelled in 2010, stumbling to a 3-9 record before McDaniels was put out of his misery.
His luster has faded, and McDaniels may simply not be the leader that many thought he was.
Sure, things never clicked in the Mile High city, but it's unfair to blame McDaniels for all of the problems.
The Brandon Marshall situation festered throughout 2009 and poisoned the clubhouse for much of that time, forcing players to take sides. It's not McDaniels' fault that Marshall is such a diva.
Further, one thing McDaniels was never given the luxury of having during his Broncos' tenure was stability. Players and personnel were always in flux, whether it was the quarterback situation with Jay Cutler being replaced by Kyle Orton, or his defensive coordinator situation, with Mike Nolan abruptly leaving after 2009 and being replaced by Wink Martindale.
The defense under Martindale took major steps backwards, and Denver finished 2010 ranked last in the league in both points and yards allowed. The offense was pretty good, but nobody could compete with that defense.
OK, let's give McDaniels the benefit of the doubt and say that he deserves a chance to redeem himself. Even then, Denver's not the only team with problems. St. Louis has its fair share, as well.
Those problems include the fact that, despite Bradford's emergence, the Rams' offense still only ranked 26th in the league in both points and yards in 2010. Sure, 7-9 was a nice improvement, but at the same time, 7-9 was a nice improvement. This is a franchise that had gone a combined 6-42 over the previous three seasons. Yikes!
Longtime running back Steven Jackson piled up the stats again, but his effectiveness noticeably dipped, and he finished with the worst rushing average of his career, with just 3.8 yards per carry. Running backs in the NFL are known to have a short shelf life, and Jackson has been as overworked as any of them over the last few seasons.
Further, unless the Rams are able to get a top pass catcher in free agency or the draft, the weapons that Bradford has to throw to are limited. McDaniels may be good, but is he a wizard?
So, lets agree that the Rams could be better. Well, so could their division.
The sad sack NFC West was one of the worst divisions in NFL history in 2010, and crowned the first division champion with a losing record (Seattle at 7-9) in a full season ever. And even then, Seattle had to win its last game against St. Louis to claim that prize. The fact that they were even still alive at 6-9 is an embarrassment.
Granted, they proved their worth by defeating the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints on Wild Card weekend, but still, if the division wasn't so sorry to begin with, they wouldn't have even been there.
The other teams aren't much better. San Francisco went backwards in 2010 after entering the season with high expectations, and Arizona tumbled back to the doghouse as soon as Kurt Warner retired.
So relatively speaking, the Rams have as good a shot as anyone.
Perhaps the Rams will continue their positive momentum and take another step forward in 2011. Who's to say that they'll be the only ones?
The team with the best hype around it right now has to be the San Francisco 49ers, who pried Jim Harbaugh away from Stanford to lead them into a new era, and excitement in the Bay Area is at a high point not reached since the glory days of Steve Young.
The Niners have the seventh pick in the draft, and already have a talented nucleus of players including running back Frank Gore, tight end Vernon Davis, wideout Michael Crabtree and defensive stalwart Patrick Willis. Despite their struggles in 2010, this is a team that is very possibly just a few tweaks away from great things.
Just by the law of averages, the rest of the division can't be as bad in 2011 as it was in 2010. Can it?
We should look at McDaniels' time in Denver as just that, a learning experience. It was a trial run, that if it does anything, it will help him throughout the rest of his career to know what to do, and what not to do.
Have better communication with your players. Keep things simple and consistent. Don't alienate your staff. All of these lessons are invaluable. They might not be helping the Broncos anymore, but they'll certainly be helping the Rams now and into the future.
He's a smart guy. He'll get things back on track. And there's nothing better than a fresh start to allow him to jump start that process.
McDaniels went into coaching in the pros essentially right out of college.
After just one season as a graduate assistant at Michigan State (hardly your toughest proving ground), he became a coaching assistant with the New England Patriots in 2001, at the ripe old age of 25.
He might now have more years, and two seasons as a head coach under his belt, but he still hasn't really paid his dues. There are coaches who spend far longer honing their skills, learning the best ways to get through to the men of the NFL.
Perhaps he'd be better served to take a few years off, or head back into the college ranks, to get the wisdom that only comes with time.
Maybe the myriad responsibilities of being a head coach were just too much for him. Maybe he was overwhelmed by it all.
Well, then it makes sense that he returns to the sidelines not as a head man again, but as an assistant. He can focus on his specific area of expertise and leave the rest of it to Steve Spagnuolo, the incumbent Rams head coach going into his third season at the helm of the team.
Spagnuolo is 51. He's got the perfect fiery personality to be a head coach. McDaniels can thrive in an environment like this, it's where he does his best work. Let him take long walks on the beach with Sam Bradford, let him whisper sweet nothings into his ear. Whatever it takes to build the trust they need.
With the ability to dive into his specific duties, McDaniels should go back to his effective teaching ways.
Sam Bradford had a nice little year last season, but let's not go getting delusions of grandeur just yet.
It was easy for McDaniels to look like a wunderkind in New England, because his pupil was one of the best quarterbacks of all time. And his boss, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, is widely regarded as one of the best head coaches ever.
As good as Bradford is, he's no Tom Brady. And Steve Spagnuolo might be a nice guy and a good coach, but he's no Bill Belichick. At least, not yet, and it's premature to even start thinking those things.
McDaniels will have far more responsibility and accountability in St. Louis than he did in New England, where ol' Hoodie had his fingerprints on everything the team did. Will McDaniels be able to embrace the challenge?
You can definitely see things falling either way for the Rams and Josh McDaniels. But I tend to think that they find themselves in a good spot.
With another year to grow and mature and get comfortable leading an NFL offense, Sam Bradford should be able to improve upon his rookie season. He'll be one more year removed from being the No. 1 pick, from all the hype and pressure that surrounded that. He'll be able to settle in and just play football.
And for all of his faults, McDaniels usually gets the most out of his quarterbacks. And the defense, with young stars like linebacker James Laurinaitis, is already pretty good, ranking 12th in the league in points allowed in 2010.
If both units can continue to make progress, there's no reason to believe that the Rams can't be a division champion in 2011. They're not a lock, and teams like the Niners should be better as well, but they've got the inside track.