Justin looks at the teams in the NFL who fired their coaches and where they go from here
The Rams have excuses. Sam Bradford got too buff, cornerbacks came down with the Greg Oden syndrome (6 cornerbacks on injured reserve), the return of the manchild Josh McDaniels (who may or may not be the future Jets offensive coordinator). Things are tough in St. Louis. Pujols skipped out. Although, looking back on it, it was one of the shrewdest and most cost effective moves in the last decade in the MLB. The Angels will wish they didn’t pull a Steinbrenner in 5 years. Trust me, I’ve been watching the Yankees like a third work anthropologist. Things fail in New York. Fail big.
Bumping Bradford will be like trying to find a date for a cousin whose name shows up on the local ex-con web site. It’s hard to avoid the fact that there were more than one game this year in which he performed like a one legged pirate with osteoporosis.
It’s very real, this uncertainty. It’s going to be snowing in St Louis soon, and to those with the NFL network, the TIVO replays of the Rams season is going to be like Chinese water torture. There will be no bright spots. It’s a Rorschach test without answers.
In being fair to the good people of San Lewie. I will look for something that doesn’t cause you to stare out the window one last time, call up that old dope dealer from your factory job, and tell him you’d like to meet him somewhere off I-95, in the deep woods.
There’s essentially two ways of looking at the Rams offseason. Both will cause Rams fans to scramble to put Bradford jerseys on Ebay, and hold off on the Brandon Lloyd for Pro Bowl resuscitation campaign. Keep Bradford, let Pettis and Salas show off what they’ve got in a full training camp, let Brandon Lloyd acclimate to ,another year of McDaniels? And at least have faith in Matt Kalil, who will be the only Rams player to make the Pro Bowl next year, as opposed to the 0 that made it this year. The upside is that if Bradford is protected, and has a full year of Pettis, Salas, Mark Clayton and Lloyd, and he fails miserably, there is finally a legitimate excuse to part with him and let him attempt to revive his career in some miserable place like Minnesota or Miami.
The other? Vegas. Get Blackmon with the second pick, have a starting duo of Lloyd and Blackmon, while the rest scramble to nail a slot receiver job, and pray to god they reincorporate the spread offense, looking for 4,000 yards passing and giving Steven Jackson and Cadillac Williams a break from the bone crunching they’ve had to take all year. Take a cornerback in the second round (Al Harris is 37), and do some more work on the defensive line with the third round pick. They’ll have a tough time selling this team to anyone through free agency.
Turning from the worst division in the NFC to a team with the most and least potential at once in the NFC South. Has everyone learned their lesson about young head coaches in the NFL? Have a “run” that doesn’t even get you into the playoffs and you become a pariah. Articles about Raheem Morris coming up in the streets, toughness, Dre Beats, Zip Em Up. How many fights you think Belichick got into growing up? Everyone understands there’s some sort of youth movement going on in the NFL, but there’s a point when players have to be accountable for their actions, and from heads on the inside, the whole Aqib Talib not getting cut for attempting to kill someone may have been the first of many wrong decisions throughout the season.
In his most recent interview, Ronde Barber admitted “the uptic is that we’re a young team”. Of course. Young. Full of talent on the defensive line. but what else? Kellen Winslow? Davin Joseph? Is this what the people in Tampa Bay are paying to see?
Everyone sees Ronde Barber leaving in the next year or two anyway, so a 1st round corner would at least give some help to a secondary most likely planning to start this years rookies (Black & Gaitor).
Many aren’t happy with the time Freeman is getting in the pocket so a center in the second round is the backhanded approach at eventually dumping Freeman if he falls apart at the seams in his fourth year. “We got him offensive line help! Even drafted a 4th and 6th round receiver! Looks like we were wrong about Josh. Good thing we drafted Brandon Wheeden in the 3rd round.”
Let us, for a second, be completely truthful about the Buccaneers. Barring some sort of miraculous free agent receiver pickup, the Buccaneers aren’t making the playoffs next year. Their best bet is to ultimately build up that defensive line, try to pressure with 4 and grab a linebacker and another defensive back in free agency, and see it from there. Hope Freeman turns it around and airs it out big time.
As if this wasn’t turning into an out and out pity party, it’s time for the Colts, sadly, without the Polians going forward. The twitter world is already morning the insane exchanges between fans, Polian, and Irsay. It was like a bunch of teenage Friends going off to college and exchanging mushroom trip stories. Brilliant stuff. One real quote: “The New Year will have 7 lives and many faces” You’ll never understand.
Let’s say Irsay gets real loaded one night and Tweets this out. “Housecleaning Special In Indy….18 Reasons To Move Forward…Peyton will not play in 2012…Start Packin It Up Mathis!”
It could happen. The only people the Colts really need to keep, by position, are the following. Delone Carter and Donald Brown at running back. Reggie Wayne at wide receiver. Dallas Clark at tight end. Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana on the offensive line. Jamaal Anderson, Jerry Hughes and Drake Nevis on the defensive line. Antoine Bethea, Jermaile Hines, and Chris Rucker in the secondary. If you haven’t heard of half those names it’s because they were last years draft picks and it’s usually in bad taste to dump draft picks one year into their career.
Mathis? Expendable. Especially if it lands an offensive weapon, which is what Andrew Luck is going to need if they’re going to attempt to run the already installed offense. The Wayne and Clark duo can do a good enough job of keeping the continuum and Andrew Luck makes his own line calls anyway, so keeping old Jeff Saturday there grumbling about Peyton is pretty much pushing it at 36 years old.
There’s plenty more to come, and I’m still weighing writing something about the Jets, because after watching what happened in the last 48 hours concerning that team, I can think of few things as laughably absurd about the situation as a whole. Maybe a Kim Kardashian announcement to pursue a PhD in experimental mathematics, but there would be some shred of admiration in the attempt. WIth the former, there’s nothing.