As the off-season continues and our desire for Rams football to return grows each day, I’ve decided to start a series that focuses on the Rams’ position coaches. These coaches are (by-large) relatively unknown to fans, and I figured this would be a fun assignment with the opportunity to familiarize fans with the team’s staff. Thus, we begin with Weinke.
Chris Weinke enters his second year as the Rams’ quarterbacks coach and is widely remembered as a Heisman-winning passer from Florida State. Hailing from Minnesota, he was a Parade magazine and USA Today first team All-America selection, the state’s prep football player of the year, and reportedly offered by a whopping 70 FBS schools in 1989.
Despite signing his letter of intent for the Seminoles, Weinke was drafted 62nd overall (second round) by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1990 MLB First-Year Player draft; he spent six seasons with the Blue Jays and eventually made it to the AAA level when he was 25. That was the last of baseball for Weinke though, as he chose to retire and return to Florida State.
From there, all he did was compile a 32-3 record that included a perfect season and National Championship in 1999 with another appearance the following season. His played earned him the Heisman Trophy and consensus first team All-American and ACC Player of the Year honors in 2000; he was also the recipient of the Davey O’Brien Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
The transition to the next level would not be as seamless. At 28, he was the second oldest pick in NFL history (just a few months older than Brandon Weeden) when the Carolina Panthers took him in the fourth round with the 106 overall pick in 2001. Weinke would replace Matt Lytle as the starting quarterback after Week 1 and proceed to lose the next 15 games, a then-NFL single season record. Things failed to get better for him as he finished his seven career with a record of 2-18 as a starter.
Prior to his stint with the Rams, Weinke spent four years as the director of the IMG Academy football program where he helped the likes of Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, and Ryan Tannehill prepare for their own journey at the next level. There isn’t a large-enough sample size to suggest Jared Goff will grow as a passer under the tutelage of Weinke, but his track record at IMG is appealing and, coupled with his NFL experience, offers a sliver of hope.