I am completely on board with colleagues Bernie Miklasz and Jim Thomas in regards to how the Rams should handle the offensive coordinator opening if, as is now expected, Pat Shurmur gets the head-coaching job with the Cleveland Browns. It would be a partial waste of Sam Bradford’s rookie year to import an offensive coordinator that would implement a different system with new terminology. So the new guy must be familiar with and ready to stick with the West Coast offense.
So, here are a five ideas for the Rams to consider as Shurmur’s replacement, with another already taken…
1) Brad Childress-former Vikings coach-Obvious choice, I know, but also the most sensible. He and Shurmur (and Steve Spagnuolo) worked together in Philadelphia. Childress
is from the Andy Reid tree, and has coordinated a Super Bowl offense. He has history in working with young quarterbacks (Donovan McNabb in Philly, Tarvaris Jackson in Minnesota), and knows exactly what Spags is looking for. There are a couple of negatives. He may not be interested in coaching right now because of his experience in Minnesota and the money he has coming from them (reportedly $6.6 million dollars), and he wasn’t the most popular guy among Minnesota players. Could his presence have an effect on bringing free agent players to St. Louis?
2) Bill Callahan-Jets offensive line coach-also was head coach at Oakland and at Nebraska. Was the offensive coordinator under Jon Gruden with the Raiders, running Mike Holmgren and Reid’s offense. One of the top running game coaches in football, Callahan
has schemed a Jets rushing attack that compiled a team record 2,756 rushing yards in 2009. Also oversaw a Raider PASSING game that led the NFL in passing and set new team records for total offensive yards (6,237), first downs (366), first downs passing (226), passes attempted (619), passes completed (418), passing yards (4,689) and highest completion percentage (67.5). Could also help out on the OL. Rick Venturi thinks the Chicago native is the best offensive line coach in the business.
3) Jim Zorn-Ravens quarterbacks coach-ironically has never served as an offensive coordinator. Went from Seahawks QB coach to Redskins head coach to Ravens QB coach. Intimately knows the Holmgren offense due to his seven years as the Seahawks QB coach. Zorn
helped Matt Hasselbeck ascend, and was part of a Super Bowl offense in Seattle. Called plays for the Redskins, and this year had the opportunity to work with noted offensive mind Cam Cameron.
4) Darrell Bevell-former Vikings offensive coordinator-under Childress. Leslie Frazier is going to bring in a new OC. Bevell worked for the Packers and the Vikings, and helped orchestrate a terrific Vikings offense in 2009. With Sidney Rice hurt and Brett Favre ineffective this year, you know what happened. Childress oversaw the play calling duties, but Bevell does have vast experience in the West Coast offense.
5) Stump Mitchell-Southern Head Coach-another product of the Holmgren system, having coached in Seattle for nine years. On the plus side, helped Shaun Alexander win MVP honors as the RB coach in Seattle, and oversaw Clinton Portis’ 1,500 yard season in 2008. On the negative side, he’s never been a play caller or a coordinator before.
One other coach that intrigued me was Mark Whipple, who was the Steelers’ quarterbacks coach in Ben Roethlisberger’s first three seasons before being let go when Mike Tomlin came in. Whipple worked for Reid for a year before becoming the offensive coordinator at the University of Miami for the last two years, In ’09, Miami’s offense put up 5,199 yards – becoming just the eighth team in school history to eclipse the 5,000 yard mark in total yards gained. Under Whipple’s tutelage, quarterback Jacory Harris totaled the second-most pass completions (249), fourth-most passing yards (3,352) and sixth-most touchdowns (24) in a single season at Miami. They were even better in 2010…despite Harris being unavailable for much of the season, the ‘Canes had nearly 5,500 yards (2,388 on the ground, 3,105 in the air) and averaged 26.3 ppg. However, according to ESPN, Whipple is close to becoming the next head coach at UConn.
The top two names are the best. If Shurmur goes to Cleveland, he’s going to want one of those guys. Ron Rivera in Carolina is a Reid disciple and probably will, too. Hopefully Steve Spagnuolo has HIS list ready to go, because he’ll likely have to move quickly to get his guy if Shurmur does get the Cleveland job.