Brian Schottenheimer is more than happy to be with Rams
Something was different this time, and it wasn't just the navy and gold from head to toe that had replaced last year's green and white.
No, the difference was in his expression: This time, "Schotty" was all smiles.
In 2011, his sixth year as the Jets' coordinator, there were no smiles as he took the brunt of the blame for the Jets' numerous offensive problems.
Just a year removed from back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances, Schottenheimer had one foot out the door by the end of the season. Within two weeks of his departure from the Jets, the Rams hired him to turn around their league-worst offense.
Ten months later, Schottenheimer is winning the breakup. While the Jets are struggling on and off the field, there is an air of positivity and progress surrounding the Rams. With the midwestern sunset serving as the backdrop, Schottenheimer beamed with pride about his new team's upbeat mind-set.
"This group's been awesome to be around," Schottenheimer said. "I mean, here it is at 5 o'clock at night. It's dark, we're trying to save daylight, we've still got guys out here running routes. They want to be great."
The admiration Schottenheimer has for his players in St. Louis is mutual. He's the Rams' third offensive coordinator in as many years, but he has quickly gained the trust and respect of his offensive stars, including third-year quarterback Sam Bradford.
"He holds everyone accountable to know all the small details and all the finer points," Bradford said. "I think that's great and I've really enjoyed being around him."
Bradford's comfort level with Schottenheimer seemingly has translated into improvement on the field. After posting a passer rating of 70.5 in 2011, Bradford has a 2012 rating of 85.3. With 10 touchdown passes through nine games, the Rams' former first overall pick already has surpassed his total from last season.
"Sam's got a chance to be a real special player in this league," Schottenheimer said. "I'm just happy to try to help."
"He has quite a job on his hands," Jackson said. "Chris Givens, Danny Amendola, myself, Daryl [Richardson] and a lot of other playmakers get the ball, and I think he's done a good job with distributing."
The Rams' offense isn't a juggernaut quite yet, but it has improved in every statistical measure of production from 2011 and seems to be clicking lately. The Rams' 24 points against San Francisco's stingy defense last Sunday was their highest total since Week 2 against Washington.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher said 2011 won't be a benchmark for him or Schottenheimer and that neither is satisfied with the team's offensive production. Even so, Fisher finished his assessment with a ringing endorsement of his offensive coordinator.
"Well, he's done a good job," Fisher said. "He certainly is very, very talented and his opportunity to be a head coach is not far away."