The Rams have not fired offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as of Monday. This point was emphasized by Rams COO Kevin Demoff and has since sparked both curiosity and debate.
NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora confirms that the Rams "would like to retain" Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator.
Owner Stan Kroenke is a prominent McDaniels backer and wants to maintain stability in Sam Bradford's development even if the 2010 first-rounder took a step back in 2011. However, with a new GM and head coach on the way in McDaniels is no lock to remain in St. Louis.
Jeff Fisher would probably look in a different direction if hired as the Rams' next head coach, but McDaniels is sticking around for now. It's no secret that owner Stan Kroenke is a big McDaniels supporter and personally pushed for his hiring this past offseason. Strongly working against McDaniels, of course, is the fact that the Rams had the NFL's 31st-ranked offense in terms of yardage this season. They were dead last in points scored.
A wild card in all of this is Brandon Lloyd. Coming over to the Rams from Denver midseason Lloyd lead the Rams in receptions (51), reception yards (683), and touchdown catches (five) despite the extra attention he gets from opposing defenses. Counting his time with the Broncos this season, Lloyd had 70 catches for 966 yards.
Lloyd has expressed his desire to stay in St. Louis, but perhaps more importantly expressed his loyalty to Josh McDaniels. Bringing back Lloyd along with a healthy Danny Amendola and what many expect and hope will be Justin Blackmon or another highly drafted wide receiver immediately gives the Rams a formidable and suddenly deep wide receiving corps and weapons for Sam Bradford.
This is where the debate begins. Does McDaniels deserve a shot to show what he can do with an entire offseason to work with and without an uber-conservative head coach holding him back? Should one player, Brandon Lloyd, dictate who is on the coaching staff? Besides that would the new head coach let him have that kind of power?
Here is a snapshot of this afternoon debate.
Sam Bradford has let it be known he would like to continue working with McDaniels. Public relations or not Sam’s comments are sound. And many around the league think the best thing for a young and developing quarterback is continuity and consistency. If McDaniels leaves that would put Bradford into his fourth system in the last four years (including college).
If Lloyd and McDaniels do leave that pretty much necessitates that the Rams go wide receiver early in the draft. Granted that should and better be a high priority regardless of whether or not the two remain. This whole situation may also give a look into how involved Stan Kroenke will be as an owner. As it stands now Jeff Fisher and Todd Bowles are the two head coaching candidates in question.
If Stan wants Fisher and gets him it would more than likely mean the departure of McDaniels and perhaps Lloyd. However if Bowles emerges as the front runner it could mean Kroenke is exerting his influence and may perhaps make a “suggestion” as to whom Bowles should add to his staff.
Will the Rams and Bradford be better off with or without the duo of Josh McDaniels and Brandon Lloyd? Only time will tell.
But if you want me to tell you, I will. Lloyd is loyal but he is also a businessman. If I’m Stan I appeal to that sense and effort that he can grow with a franchise quarterback behind center which is something another team may not be able to offer. If the draft goes as many think it will the Rams will come away with a quality receiver and that only helps Lloyd come the season.
Let the new head coach usher in his new offensive coordinator and new system. Sam will be okay. Give him a solid core of wideouts, a healthy Steven Jackson, a cohesive offensive line and he’ll be just fine.
A new era of Rams football will be under way in 2012, keeping McDaniels around until his next opportunity presents itself does more harm than good in the long run. Let him walk…Lloyd however needs to stay.