Sam Bradford and Josh McDaniels: Greatest Show on Turf Part II?
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Sam Bradford won Offensive Rookie of the Year, but it seems he gets overlooked because he is in the weak NFC West.
All he did was lead a Rams offense to end up 7-9 and barely miss the playoffs. Of course, this is only possible in the NFC West, but don't hold that against Sam.
The Rams were able to pick him because they were 1-15 the year before, remember?
With one full season under his belt, Bradford is the most talented quarterback in his division. Matt Hasselbeck is in his twilight, and even if the 49ers or Cardinals make a move for a veteran, fans and analysts can still argue that Bradford is more talented.
Add Josh McDaniels to that talent, and this could be a match made in heaven.
Let's find out why.
Bradford: Before the Marriage
Ah, it feels good to live up to the hype.
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
By drafting Bradford, the Rams started a revival similar to how the Falcons did with Matt Ryan. How each team reached rock bottom is a different story, but the Rams are in good position for future success. Bradford did nothing but confirm that by breaking some of Peyton Manning's rookie records.
Peyton Manning (1998)
- 326 of 575 Passes Completed
- 56.7 Completion %
- 3,739 Passing Yards
- 26 Touchdowns
- 28 Interceptions
- 71.2 QB Rating
Sam Bradford (2010)
- 354 of 590 Passes Completed
- 60.0 Completion %
- 3,512 Passing Yards
- 18 Touchdowns
- 15 Interceptions
- 76.5 QB Rating
Sam had more check-downs than Peyton did. But that's because he lacks receivers, not because of a lack of arm strength or bad accuracy.
Sophomore slump? Highly unlikely.
McDaniels: Before the Marriage
McDaniels turned Kyle Orton from a game manager to an aerial threat.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Sure, he had a forgettable head coaching stint with the Broncos, but he helped give Kyle Orton back-to-back career years.
With Tim Tebow in town, Orton will inevitably be traded. But now, he will be in high demand thanks to his former head coach. But, don't be surprised if Orton's performance declines without him.
McDaniels is most famous for calling plays for an undefeated Patriots team in 2007. That year, Tom Brady threw a record 50 touchdown passes, with Randy Moss catching a record 23 touchdowns.
What is even more impressive, however, is an unproven Matt Cassel leading the Patriots to an 11-5 record in 2008. That included back-to-back 400 yard passing games. A former backup both at USC and in New England became the Chiefs' franchise quarterback. Cassel gives McDaniels credit for jump-starting his career.
This performance also helped McDaniels land the head coaching job in Denver.
Bradford is more talented than Orton or Cassel.
The Best Man in the Wedding
Steven Jackson might see less 8 man fronts in the near future.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Since The Greatest Show on Turf ended, Jackson has often been St. Louis' sole offensive weapon.
The Rams had something special for a while with Mark Bulger, but unfortunately the O-Line couldn't hold up.
Jackson is a true workhorse. Given his physical style of play, it's no surprise he's always playing banged up. He only played all 16 games twice in his career, but consistently rushing for over 1,000 yards isn't a problem.
It's not like teams stack the box on him or anything like that.
Bradford was the first step to taking some of the workload off Jackson. McDaniels' arrival doesn't guarantee running lanes will open up for him, but it certainly helps.
Jackson is a good receiver out of the backfield, but don't expect anything resembling Marshall Faulk.
For life to truly become easier for Jackson, a couple things have to fall into place...
Re-Signing Mark Clayton
Clayton is expected to be fully healthy by the start of training camp.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Mark Clayton was an excellent addition to a receiving corps that desperately needed a deep threat. He was very productive early in the season, amassing 300 yards through 4 games.
Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending knee injury.
In Josh McDaniels' offense, Clayton should take on the role which led to Brandon Lloyd making the Pro Bowl last year. McDaniels' scheme helped spark an otherwise pedestrian career for Lloyd.
Clayton might not be the freak athlete Lloyd is, but he has been more steady throughout his career thus far and could have a breakout year with Sam throwing him the ball.
Drafting a WR in the First Round
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Their best receiver, Donnie Avery, is coming off an ACL surgery.
Danny Amendola was a nice surprise last season. McDaniels might use him the same way he used Wes Welker, since Amendola proved he can tally up the receptions.
But St. Louis really needs to stretch the field vertically. That way, Steven Jackson can run wild.
Getting an explosive receiver in the draft will help.
With the 14th overall pick, Julio Jones might fall into their lap. He will have a pin inserted into his foot to repair a stress fracture, so teams picking in the top ten might pass on him. Jones is expected to recover in 6-8 weeks. The stress fracture clearly didn't bother him at the combine. He ran a 4.39 40-yard dash and had the longest broad jump (11' 3").
If Jones is still on the board for the Rams it will be a tough decision since Steve Spagnuolo is a defensive guy, and this draft is deep on that side of the ball.
Worst case scenario; Jones gets picked ahead of the Rams, so they use the 14th pick on a defensive player.
Decent WRs should still be available in the second round.
Even if Clayton re-signs with St. Louis, it would be wise for the front office to give Bradford and McDaniels more weapons to work with.
The Marriage Must Last at Least 2 Seasons
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
All successful teams have consistency.
For this marriage to work, McDaniels cannot bolt as soon as there is an opening for a head coaching job.
After what happened in Denver, organizations might not let McDaniels tackle GM duties if he becomes a head coach again.
But that shouldn't make him a less attractive candidate as a head coach in 2012.
The Rams are a young team. The offense has to grow together and having the same playbook for multiple seasons will greatly help that cause. Look at how Tampa Bay and Detroit are improving. The Rams are looking to keep up with them as young, up-and-coming potential playoff contenders.
Bradford can dominate the NFC West for the next decade, but it would truly be a thing of beauty if McDaniels stays for the long haul as well.
The Rams would love that, as McDaniels is one of the best offensive coordinators in the league.
Trust Is Key
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Bradford was the first overall pick in the 2010 Draft despite missing his final collegiate season with a shoulder injury.
His talent was never questioned, but many wondered if he can be effective coming off shoulder surgery.
Bradford responded by playing every single snap on offense for the Rams. And he played well.
He's earned the respect of his teammates, his coaches, and the city of St. Louis.
McDaniels should follow suit and open up his playbook.
Bradford is a smart kid. He'll learn the system.
Rams fans might like the phrase, "In Bradford We Trust."
A Weak NFC West Helps
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The marriage between Bradford and McDaniels should be lethal regardless, but playing against NFC West teams six times a season definitely makes everything easier.
To no surprise, the team with the top quarterback usually wins the division.
Although Seattle won the division, the chances of them repeating looks slim. Even if they re-sign Matt Hasselbeck, he doesn't have enough in the tank to be effective for a whole season. He's also an injury liability.
The Cardinals should continue to miss Kurt Warner as they struggle to find a replacement.
The 49ers appear to be headed in the right direction with Jim Harbaugh now at the helm. Every year the Niners look good on paper, except at quarterback. The 49ers are looking at another underachieving season if they do not make a move for a decent signal-caller.
On the other hand, this bodes well for St. Louis, since Bradford is without a doubt the top quarterback in the division.
The only respectable opposing defense in the division is San Francisco, but McDaniels should be happy to hear that his new rivals ranked 23rd or worse in pass defense last season.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
After barely missing the playoffs with the Patriots in 2008, and collapsing in 2009 with the Broncos, McDaniels should be in the playoffs again in 2011 with the Rams, with Steve Spagnuolo calling the shots.
It would be the first time McDaniels has been in the playoffs since Steve Spagnuolo's exotic scheme shut down his explosive offense in Super Bowl XLII.
Hopefully this does become The Greatest Show on Turf Part II.
It would be fitting, given that this league is all about the quarterback.
Good luck to the Rams.