Ten Worst Moves of the Off-Season
posted at 6/3/2009 5:24 PM EDT
Heres is an article from Mike Florio, listing, in no particular order, what he considers to be the 10 worst offseason moves of 2009. I have interjected my commentary in bold print:
1.) NY Jets Not Hiring Bill Cowher: After firing coach Eric Mangini, the Jets had an opportunity to land former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, who has resided at the top of the "A" list ever since leaving Pittsburgh a season after winning a SB (2006).
RESPONSE: So did every other team...yet all of them passed. Could it be that many see Cowher as I do - vastly overrated, and overpriced? After all, have the Steelers missed a beat with Mike Timlin at the helm?
But, the Jets weren't interested in altering the power structure that GM Mike Tannenbaum has so carefully and methodically developed over the years. Basically, Tannenbaum would have had to yield his authority over the team to Cowher - and possibly accept a position of irrelevance to the football operation. (Since) Tannenbaum wasn't interested in stepping down, the talks with Cowher went nowhere.
RESPONSE: This was a decision made by ownership, not Tannenbaum.
At a time when the Jets are struggling to sell, for significant lump sums, the privilege to park posteriors in the chairs for which fans are buying tickets, having Cowher in the fold would have gone a long way toward moving many personal seat licenses for the new stadium.
RESPONSE: Theres' some truth to this. The loutish, football ignorant Jets' fans might have had an org@sm had the team hired Cowher. Still, is this a good reason to hire a mega-dollar head coach?
2.) Cleveland Browns Hiring Eric Mangini: After Browns owner Randy Lerma opted to dump GM Phil Savage and coach Romeo Crennel only a year after rewarding them for not making the playoffs with new contracts, Lerner seemed to be prepared to focus initially on hiring a new GM, and then a head coach.
But then, Eric Mangini became available, and Lerner had to have him. Though Mangini might ultimately have been the right man for the job, the rush to reel him in when no one else was interested in making him a head coach will be heavily criticized if the Browns continue to struggle.
RESPONSE: How do you know that "no one else was interested in making him a head coach"? Surely, someone might have been interested in hiring him as a DC? Why take a chance on losing him, when you think that he's the right guy for the job?
3.) Denver Broncos Trading Jay Cutler: Seven years ago, the Buccaneers bounced a defensive-minded head coach (Tony Dungy) and replaced him with an offensive guru (Jon Gruden). The fumes of Dungy coupled with the fury of Gruden propelled the Bucs to their only SB win.
RESPONSE: Correction...the fury of Gruden and the tough, talented Bucs defense propelled the Bucs to their SB win. Saint Dungy had nothing to do with it.
In January, the Broncos surprisingly parted ways with coach Mike Shanahan, an offensive mastermind. Instead of replacing him with a specialist on the defensive side of the ball, owner Pat Bowlen opted to bring in another expert on offense, Josh McDaniels.
RESPONSE: LOL!! Back in the early 2000s, the Patriots replaced a defensive guru, Pete Carroll, with another defensive wizard, BB...and the rest is history.
And regardless of whether McDaniels didn't want QB Jay Cutler or vice-versa, the end result - the trade of a young franchise QB - was not an acceptable outcome.
RESPONSE: I reject the premise that Cutler is a franchise QB. He's got great physical skills, but is not a leader, whines, and apparently needs to be pampered. Besides, considering that the Broncos got two #1 draft choices, a 3rd round pick, and a servicable QB in Kyle Orton in return, thats' quite a haul for a QB who longer wanted to play in Denver.
But, if McDaniels didn't want Cutler, then McDaniels shouldn't have taken the job. Or, at a minimum, he should have been honest with Bowlen.
RESPONSE: How does Florio know what was said when McDaniels was hired? McDaniels was not given authority over personnel matters. So, any decisions made to go after Cassel must have been made, or at least approved, by the front office. It was Pat owlen who made the decision to trade Cutler, not McDaniels. So...how can Florio contend that McDaniels was in any way "dishonest", or not forthcoming?
4.) Washington Redskins Flirting With New QBs: Jason Campbell got off to a solid start in 2008, his first season running the West Coast offense. Even though his performances eventually cooled, Campbell put up the best numbers of his career. And, 2009 will be his seccond straight seasonin the same offense for the first time in a long time. So, there should be optimism in DC, right?
Wrong. The Redskins made a run at Cutler. When they didn't get him, they tried to get in position to draft Mark Sanchez. Campbell is still the QB, but the situation surely is awkward. Though Campbell is using it as motivation, the fact that the Redskins tried and failed to replace him sets a strange tone for the 2009 season.
RESPONSE: I don't see Cutler or Sanchez as a huge improvement over Campbell. But, the other factor in this equasion is Campbell's contract, which I believe expires at the end of the year. Is Campbell worth the huge money a franchise QB gets?
5.)San Francisco 49ers Flirting With Kurt Warner: No one believed QB Kurt Warner would leave the Cardinals (at least no one believed he would leave them for SF). So, why did the 49ers openly flirt with him? On one hand, their interest in Warner might have forced the Cardinals to pay morre money to keep him (BINGO!!). On the other hand, the 49ers created the impression that they were played by Warner (so what...as long as they succeeded in making the Cards pay more...keeping money away from guys like Anquan Bolden, and Karlos Dansby). Even worse, their failure to land him highlighted the reality that their current options at QB aren't vey good (LOL!! Surely you jest! Wheres' the big secret there...and wheres' the harm?)
6.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers Not Spending Money: Thanks to several years of carrying excess cap room, the Bucs entered the 2009 offseason with a huge ccap surplus. Five months later, they still have $37mil. to spend.
Though its' difficult to build a wiining team in one year merely by buying up free agents, the Bucs sat on the sidelines while all of the upper-tier free agents signed elsewhere. And when the Bucs did spend money, they handed over a big pile of guaranteed cash to a guy with a chronic knee problem - TE Kellen Winslow.
RESPONSE: Agree on Winslow. Worse yet, they gave up a second round draft choice for him.
In the end, the Bucs probably will identify their key young players and use much of that cap room to sign them to new deals. But, that won't do anything to make the team any better in 2009.
RESPONSE: Other than DT Albert Haynesworth, who was available to the Bucs that would have made them significantly better? Do you think that the Bucs should have outbid the Redskins ridiculous $100mil. dollar offer?
7.) Pittsburgh Steelers Using Franchise Tag on Max Starks: Last year, the Steelers inexplicably opted to apply the transition tag to OT Max Starks. Given that there was no significant market for his services, he promptly signed the tender offer - and received a base salary of $6.985 million last season. In the end, the Steelers needed him, due to the back troubles of Marvel Smith.
RESPONSE: So if in the end the Steelers really needed Starks, why do you consider the use of the transition tag, leading to his signing, as a bad move? Could it be that the Steelers preferred to overpay him a bit, rather than take a chance that he would move on?
But, Starks was hardly dominant. Jamie Dukes of the NFL Network believes (and we agree) that the Steelers OL was worse than any other SB winning team's wall of blockers.
RESPONSE: If you're agreeing with Dukes, your on thin ice already, Mike. Besides, how bad could the Steelers' OL have been if the team won 16 games, including the SB?
So, this time around, the Steelers used the franchise tag on Starks. Once again, he promptly signed it...and he'll make $8.451mil. this year, guaranteed. Thats $15.436mil. (and one SB) for two seasons - for a guy who drew no interest last year, when limited only by the Steelers' right to match any offer he received, with no compensation if they chose not to.
RESPONSE: Starks and the 2008 Steeler line, for all your blather, was good enough to allow Ben Roethlisberger to excel...especially in the SB.
Meanwhile, the Steelers have had to navigate some serious (and for them, uncharacteristic) salary cap problems. The better move would hhave been to let him hit the market, where he would have realized that hes' worth far less than $8mil. per year.
RESPONSE: Decent veteran offensive lineman are in demand. If the Steelers chose to play chicken with Starks, they may have lost him...it only takes one crazy team. Since OL is really the main weakness on the Pittsburgh team, why risk losing an OT who knows their system...and who they apparently like? Had they lost him, OT Eben Britton would likely have been their #1 draft pick out of need, instead of DT/DE Ziggy Hood...who both they and the Patriots really liked.
8.) Indianapolis Colts Creating Coaching Confusion: As expected, Colts head coach Tony Dungy retired after the 2008 season. As expected, Jim Caldwell replaced him. (But), the next events were not expected. OL coach Howard Mudd and OC Tom Moore nearly retired. GM Bill Polian talked them out of it.
Then, the Colts parted ways with special teams coach Russ Purnell (no loss here...the Colts special teams have been weak over the past few seasons). The next man to go was DC Ron Meeks. More recently, Mudd and Moore retired in a haze of confusion arising from their ability to take their pensions in a lump sum (I wonder if this has anything to do with Congress/O'Bama's alleged plans to tax benefits as income?). They want to return as consultants, but a definitive answer has not yet been generated (Polian is between a rock and a hard place here...because if he keeps these guys on as consultants, what of the new OL/OC coaches? Who will be calling the shots?).
The situation is nothing short of a complete mess, and one of the most solid coaching staffs over the past several years suddenly has landed in a state of disarray, with none of the three most important assistants - OC, DC, and special teans coordinator - returning in 2009 after being in place since 2002.
RESPONSE: At last we agree on something! Though Indy is a veteran team, it remains to be seen how all the above mentioned coaching changes affects the bottom line for the Colts in 2009.
9.) Houston Texans Trading Sage Rosenfels: Houston QB Matt Schaub has had plenty of injury problems since becoming the team's starter in 2007. In his first year with the team, he missed 5 games. Last year, he missed 5 more.
Despite the unfortunate "Rosencopter" routine that greased the skids for an epic collapse against the Colts, backup QB Sage Rosenfels has been a solid contributor from the backup position. But, the Texans opted to send him to Minnesota...and they replaced him with Dan Orlovsky, the former Lions QB who ran out of the end zone against the Vikings last yyear, reallizing it roughly 30 seconds later. The bottom line? If Schaub can't stay healthy this year, the Texans could be in real trouble.
RESPONSE: Agreed. All Sage wanted from the Texans was a fair chance to compete for the starting job in 2009. When they refused to guarantee him that, they shipped him off to Minnesota for a fairly low 4th round pick. Considering the inability of Matt Schaub to remain healthy, the Texans may regret their decision to let "The Sage" go.
10.) Detroit Lions Promoting Front Office Figures: The day after the Lions capped the first 0-16 season in NFL history, coach Rod Marinelli was fired. On the very same day, Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew received promotions.
Lewand has been a kkey figure in the team's front officeduring the decade of futility since Barry Sanders retired, and Mayhew served as the primaary lieutenant for deposed CEO Matt Millen. Despite having their fingerprints all over that winless campaign, they not only kept their jobs, they got better ones.
Now Lewand holds the title of CEO, and Mayhew serves as the GM. And they believe they're equipped to succeed because they had front-row seats for the slow-motion train wreck that occurred under Millen. Ownership evidently agrees with this ridiculous proposition...and that might help explain the franchise's struggles ovver the past 50 years.
RESPONSE: No argument here.
Thoughts...or any additional bad moves which Florio failed to mention?