The Slow March: First Casualties Of Black Monday

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.

New York Jets: The Ugliest Day After

The New York Jets bombed out on the field and off the field in the past two days

The New York Jets bombed out on the field yesterday and they followed today by bombing in a similar fashion off the field. In case you haven’t been following the news around the team —

  • Multiple teammates have referred to Santonio Holmes as a “cancer” around the locker room and stated he “acts like a 10 year old.” There was disgust in the huddle about how he was moping around the field and the general consensus is that he quit on the team the past few weeks.
  • There was a disagreement between Holmes and Mark Sanchez over the past week
  • Bart Scott didn’t talk to the media today and flipped off a photographer, amid reports that he will be cut this off-season.
  • Rex Ryan had a teary eyed address to the team this morning, pleading for better unity.
  • Brian Schottenheimer is going to interview with Jacksonville for a head coaching job. The company line is that he will be back if he doesn’t get a head coaching job. I don’t buy it. He isn’t coming back next year.

So what now? Express all of your frustration and call for everybody’s heads. This team deserves it right now. It is one thing to have a disappointing 8-8 season. It is another thing to be a fractured, immature team that completely lacks leadership and character. This team has a long way to go in many aspects, which should make for a fascinating off-season. For now they have embarrassed themselves and lost much of the goodwill they earned from back to back AFC Championship Game appearances.

In retrospect a series of events this previous off-season is what laid the foundation for such a disastrous 2011 season. The failed pursuit for Nnamdi Asomugha. The decision to name Santonio Holmes a captain. Parting ways with Damien Woody and relying on Wayne Hunter as the starting right tackle. Replacing Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery with Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason. Not addressing the safety position. The list goes on…The pressure is on Mike Tannenbaum this year.

Offense: Both Wayne Hunter and Matthew Mulligan are gone. I think we can all agree nobody wants to ever see those two guys in a Jets jersey again. How to handle Santonio Holmes is also a major issue. I don’t think the Jets are going to move him unless they find a surprisingly good trade offer and if they do move him how do you replace him? The Jets need more speed at receiver regardless of what happens with Holmes. Plaxico Burress is probably gone and the Jets need a split end who can stretch the field, similar to what Braylon Edwards did in 2009 and 2010. LaDainian Tomlinson is gone. The Jets need more speed at running back and need to come to realization that Shonn Greene may not be a feature back.

Defense: Safety. You are in a division with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, it is time to get athletic safeties who aren’t completely incompetent in pass coverage. Speed at linebacker is also a major need. It sounds like Bart Scott and Bryan Thomas are gone, so they will need two new starters at linebacker.

Outside of this team needing 3-5 new starters on offense and defense. A conscious effort needs to be made to improve the locker room chemistry. An emphasis on character must be placed on new people who are brought into the building. The Holmes situation has to be resolved one way or another.

In summary, a ton of work needs to be done to this team which finished 5 games behind New England in the AFC East standings. Unfortunately, there is plenty of time to write about all of it. We will break down the Jets many issues in the coming months, along with tracking the NFL playoffs.

TOJ's Initial Thoughts On Jets 2011 Offensive Depth Chart

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Just throwing it out there at the earliest possible point in the off-season on what I think the New York Jets line-up could look like on both sides of the ball in 2011, I will update this a few times before free agency starts (if it starts), for today here is the offense…

Offense

Quarterback – Mark Sanchez, Kellen Clemens, Veteran Free Agent – It is good to have a franchise quarterback in place and not be like the Dolphins and have to draft one in the second round every two years and then watch him play so poorly, you are talking yourself into Tyler Thigpen being a viable option. The Jets do need to address the backup situation, unless they suddenly found confidence in Kellen Clemens.

Running Backs – Shonn Greene, LaDainain Tomlinson, Joe McKnight – In the end, I think Tomlinson will be back for year two of his contract but he needs a reduced role in the offense. Did you see how Shonn Greene ran against Pittsburgh? He needs the chance to get 17-20 carries each week, every week from week one on. Joe McKnight also needs a bigger role in the offense, as long as he doesn’t spend his off-season eating McDonalds and playing NCAA on Playstation. Tomlinson has value as a pass catcher out of the backfield and getting 8-10 carries a game next year.

Fullback – John Conner – He had a full year to learn behind one of the best in the business in Tony Richardson…now it is his time to take over.

Wide Receiver – Santonio Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery, Brad Smith, Patrick Turner – I hope I’m wrong but in the end I don’t think the Jets will be able to bring back both Holmes and Braylon Edwards. However, I do think they can get Holmes and Smith back. Patrick Turner has some size and potential and could be a steady contributor next year. Cotchery is more than capable of handling the number two spot.

Tight Ends – Dustin Keller, Ben Hartsock, Jeff Cumberland – The Jets kept Cumberland on the 53 man roster all of this year without making active once (excluding the Buffalo game), so you have to figure he will get a chance to factor in the passing game this year. As a matter of fact, I can already hear Mike Tannenbaum justifying let Braylon Edwards walk by saying they expect big things from Turner and Cumberland.

Offensive Line – D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Brandon Moore, Nick Mangold, Matt Slauson, Wayne Hunter/Vladimir Ducasse, Rob Turner – I am calling it right now that the Jets will re-sign Wayne Hunter and have him compete with Vladimir Ducasse for the starting right tackle spot, after making the tough decision to let Damien Woody walk. Matt Slauson will remain the starter at guard and Rob Turner will be the top backup at guard and center.

Overall – The Jets focus on the off-season will be on the other side of the football. They will attempt to save money on offense by letting Edwards and Woody walk and hoping that Turner and Cumberland can pick up the production at receiver/tight end and that Hunter or Ducasse can take over at right tackle full time.