Posted on: April 30, 2009 4:16 am

Da Draft

As we all take a deep breath from our week-long return to elementary school and the constant grading we have doled out to NFL programs, it is important to realize that teams can not be judged simply from first draft impressions.  Secondly, we really REALLY need to stop judging a team's pick purely based on Kiper's or McShay's draft boards.

Going back to reviews of last year's draft, clearly our initial impressions led us far astray.  Two teams with "poor" grades from last year are Baltimore and Carolina.  Baltimore was criticized for taking Flacco so darn early, a guy w/ potential but a 2nd or 3rd at best.  Carolina traded away a 1st rounder for the next year for a frickin OT in Jeff Otah.  All those guys did was step in Day 1 and help lead their teams to the playoffs.  Not the best examples I know but it only shows that although us Americans just love our instead gratification/feedback, we really need to wait before we completely toss a team in the ditch just because they did not take the number 1 guy left on Kiper's big board. 

Teams should draft guys they like. Period.  If a player meets and trys out for a team and theres something that resonates with the team, then why shouldn't they take him regardless of where he falls on the infinity plus one mock drafts that are out there. And this trend USED to be more prevalent but now programs do not have the thick skin to absorb the media's criticism and the GM's and coaches do not have the security or tenure to buck the trend.  We still see it every now and then; i could not help but admire clubs like Baltimore (Flacco) and Tampa Bay (Freeman) who pretty much  had their guy in the bag but still traded up just so there was no doubt to his availability.  With Flacco, there was a seemingly instant bond between new guys Harbaugh and Flacco and that allowed for a comfort level and learning curve that was much easier to handle than guys who show up knowing little to nothing about the franchise or staff.  Trading up for Freeman who seemed like he was not going anywhere shows a lot about the Bucs, Freeman was a guy that TB was interested in taking since he declared.  They were comfortable with the kid and had their eyes on him from the very beginning.  Sounds like the start of a great relationship, but like I said earlier it is too early to say.  The same could be said for Sanchez

So if Al Davis likes Mitchell and Heyward-Bey, if he has a legitimate relationship with these guys that goes further than a simple drooling over their athleticism, then I see no harm in either pick.  Sure he could have gotten "better talent" guys or waited to take Mitchell, but these were need picks (WR and S help are needed in the worst way in Oakland).  And if Davis took them b/c he truly did feel like their maturity level or approachability or work ethic or something in their character seperates them from other prospects, then why not take them?  The talent and potential is there, so what if they were not Kiper's faves?  Time will tell how big of mistakes or successes they are but for now I give Davis the benefit of the doubt and even props for picking guys he likes. 
Category: NFL
Posted on: January 15, 2009 7:44 pm

The Desert/NFL Coaching Unemployment Line Part 1

Ugh another year of Pro Football and another offseason filled with headlines of vacant head coaching jobs.  And once again, this unemployment list continues to grow as seemingly a quarter of the league sorting through the classifieds.  But as the list fills up with the same familiar faces, an implied weariness seems to be growing in the league.  These teams deliberate and delay and continue to sift through the pile but you know why it takes around three weeks to find a job? You know why the Browns took so long to decide on a suitor? There is not a single candidate that ties the 2 essentials together: 1) He offers something fresh to the team (i.e. a system or coaching style)  2) Has an established track history, hopefully one of success.  Nobody has that.  So the Browns took the same old road that seemingly every team in the league has followed; they sold out and picked a neutral, unexciting but not total failure Mangini.

Or you can follow the example set by the Seahawks, Colts, or Cowboys.  Name a successor a couple years in advance to take over in the inevitable vacancy available in a few years.  But is that really that much better of an option? Nope. Its worse.  You think any 'Hawks fans are excited about Jim Mora Jr. taking over next year? Heeeeeck no.  That prestiged defense fell of the face of the earth this past year.  Granted, there were some key injuries but his appointment took a major hit in just one year.  Jason Garrett in Big D? Ew. That offense was atrocious even with Romo and if he didn't have that fat $6 million contract, I'd cut him loose.

Its time to get rid of all these has-beens that continue to circle around.  In recent years, former coaches like Wade Phillips, Norv, Schottenheimer, Jim Haslett, Mora, Tice, Gregg Williams, and now Mangini keep getting tossed around.  And the bidding has already begun for next year's big class including Cowher, Holmgren, and Shanahan.

I get it.  Everyone deserves a second chance.  There are some decent coaches in that bunch.  That's just is, they're just..decent.  That last trio not counting, I could care less if they get hired again.  We need a fresh breath in the NFL!

Thank you Denver Broncos! I never thought I'd ever utter those words but truly thank you for hiring Josh McDaniels as head coach! For a storied program like Denver to take a flyer on a 32-year old coach with mixed reviews just opened the door of hope for the NFL.  Within days the Lions followed suit, signing Jim Schwartz to be their next coach.  Guys like Leslie Frazier and Spagnuolo will also get good looks very soon. Good. Great! A great franchise you may have heard of took a chance on one of these kind of guys and turned out just fine.  They're called the Steelers. You could count all of their coaches on one hand and they followed up the gilded Steel Jaw Cowher with an unheard of out of Minnesota.  He's brought an aired out approach that has shook the Steel City up while keeping with the intimidating defensive tradition that is the Steelers.  The team took a chance and now the Steelers are a win away from the Super Bowl.  P.S also look at the Dolphins, Falcons. Ravens, and even the 'Skins who all took guys that weren't at the top of anyone's list.  These out-of-the-box guys have freshened up the league but this covers up a bigger problem.  What happens when this new, exciting stream dries up? Better yet, why haven't the "next generation of coaches" arrived yet? To be answered in the next post....

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or