ST. LOUIS (AP) — After a dismal exit in Denver, Josh McDaniels never considered taking a break from coaching.
The former NFL boy wonder, hired by the Broncos two years ago at age 32 and jobless the last four weeks of the season, wanted back in as soon as possible. McDaniels got a two-year contract as the St. Louis Rams’ offensive coordinator, and believes it’s a good place to relaunch his career.
“I love coaching football,” McDaniels said on a teleconference from Denver on Wednesday. “I’ve missed it for the last six weeks and I’m eager to get started with the players and coaches.
“I definitely wanted to get back in.”
Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo began a news conference in St. Louis on Wednesday by announcing the impending retirement of 70-year-old quarterbacks coach Dick Curl, who also had the title of assistant head coach. McDaniels’ brother, Ben, was quarterbacks coach in Denver this season, but Spagnuolo said that job had not been discussed.
“Josh and I are going to talk about that,” Spagnuolo said. “We really didn’t have that discussion because this is fairly new, but when he gets here we’ll talk about it.”
In a conference call from Denver, McDaniels deferred to the Rams.
“First of all, I don’t make any of those decisions,” he said. “Coach Spags, I’m sure he’ll do what’s best for the staff or the team. If that’s something he wants to look at, I”m sure we will.”
McDaniels said expected to be in St. Louis to start work “shortly.”
McDaniels replaces Pat Shurmur, hired as head coach of the Cleveland Browns last week after a year helping to develop rookie quarterback Sam Bradford. Despite lacking a deep passing game most of the year, the Rams improved by a touchdown per game and finished 7-9 overall, a six-win improvement.
McDaniels had little to say about his downfall with the Broncos, saying he was “very appreciative” of the chance and “learned a lot.” But he took one shot at Denver in describing the franchise he’s joining.
“I think it’s important to have a solid direction and a solid structure and really have all the people pulling in the same direction,” McDaniels said. “That’s what’s really so appealing to me about St. Louis, that the direction is clear.
“What’s expected of me initially was laid out clearly for me and I’m sure that’s the way the rest of the organization is running, too.”
During the search for a replacement, Spagnuolo said he kept rookie quarterback Sam Bradford informed “just to say ‘Trust me, I’ll make the right decision,’ and said Bradford told him he’d have no problem adapting to a new system.
“He said, ‘Well, you know what, I came in out of college and didn’t know anything and learned an offense, and didn’t do too bad,”‘ Spagnuolo said. “He wasn’t fazed at all. Sam can play in any offense.”
Spagnuolo said the first item of business in his search was recalling which coaches he’s had the most trouble defending throughout his NFL career. He said the schemes created by McDaniels and the 34-year-old’s success with Tom Brady and Matt Cassel made the hire an easy choice.
“I just did a little study of the toughest schemes, the people that gave us problems in defending, and it led me directly to Josh,” Spagnuolo said. “I think his record as an offensive coordinator speaks for itself, I think his work with quarterbacks is well documented and I think he’s going to be a great fit for the Rams going forward.”
Spagnuolo was Giants defensive coordinator when they upset the unbeaten Patriots, with McDaniels as offensive coordinator, in the Super Bowl after the 2007 season.
This season, the Rams won 36-33 at Denver.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)