The NFL Free Agency Season has begun and – per usual – the Washington Redskins are out front of everyone in their annual quest to win the Super Bowl in March. They have signed Albert Haynesworth to a seven-year deal worth $100M and they also resigned DeAngelo Hall to a new deal. Unfortunately for Skins’ fans – most of whom see the world through burgundy and gold colored glasses – the actual Super Bowl will not be played until next February. Hey, what could go wrong…?
Let me be clear; Albert Haynesworth is an outstanding defensive tackle; his physical skills cannot be in question. Having said that, Albert Haynesworth has played a full 16-game schedule exactly one time in his seven-year NFL career. In the past, he has had temper issues such as the time he stomped a Cowboys’ offensive lineman in the head. He also had a reputation for uninspired play every once in a while – - until last year which was his “contract year”. The last time the Redskins went out and got themselves the defensive player of the year as a DT, it was Dana Stubblefield. Stubby had good years in SF; his tenure with the Redskins with “fat-wallet syndrome” was less than mediocre. What could go wrong…?
DeAngelo Hall got $55M for six years. Just a year ago, he got $70M for seven years from the Raiders who cut him after 8 games last year to avoid paying him the next installment of his guaranteed roster bonuses. In Atlanta before Oakland, Hall earned the nickname “MeAngelo”. What could go wrong…?
Since I’m on the NFL this morning, let me comment on some other things that have been piling up on my clipboard. To call what the Dallas Cowboys have been going through in the last eight weeks a soap opera would be understatement. The owner/GM/shadow coach has put a gag on his entire coaching staff; only Jerry Jones can speak to the press on “matters/football”. That is the only way, Jones says, for the press to talk to someone who has the “whole picture”. In the past, I have said that the “M” in Daniel M. Snyder should stand for “Megalomania”. I have never seen Jerry Jones’ name with a middle initial so I assume he has none, but given the events of the past month or so, he and Danny Boy might agree to share that “M”.
Let me try to put a perspective on Jerry Jones’ assumption that he is the only one in the Cowboys’ organization who can do things right – from building a new stadium to marketing the team to being the GM to handling the “cap issues” to… Enrico Caruso was a hell of a singer; he was not the guy who worked the sound equipment to make his recordings. “Sully” is obviously an accomplished pilot for commercial jetliners; he is not the guy who wrote the programs for computer-aided design that develop new planes for Boeing. I am sure you see where I am going with this; I am not certain that Jerry Jones would be able to relate it to the Cowboys.
The Cowboys are a mess. Tony Romo is a good QB; but in pressure games – like ones played in December or January – he morphs into Tony No-Mo; the team will play “No-Mo games”. Terrell Owens had a mini-version of a hissy fit last year when stories leaked that he thought that Romo and his road-roomie, Jason Witten, were freezing him out of getting the ball during games.
Memo to Cowboys: T.O. had “issues” with the QB in San Francisco, Jeff Garcia, and with the QB in Philly, Donovan McNabb. Do you see a pattern here? The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior…
Roy Williams, the wide receiver, cost the Cowboys four draft picks and a contract extension at mid-season; Williams caught a total of 36 passes for 430 yards for the entire season. Don’t even mention PacMan Jones who is cut from the team at the moment but who has said he thinks he will get another shot with the Cowboys. In addition, Roy Williams, the safety, is paid as if he were on a par with Ed Reed and Brian Dawkins and Troy Polamalu when he is really at the level of “average NFL safety”. Tank Johnson was another miscreant signed by the Cowboys to “make a difference”. Johnson does not have enough ability to carry the label “waste of talent”; he is large enough though to qualify as a “waste of space”.
In summary, the Cowboys have found a way to get contractual deals done to the satisfaction of this menagerie, but they could not find a way to reach a contractual agreement with Dan Reeves – who has deep Cowboy roots and has shown that he actually does know something about NFL football. As I said, if you took all the writers and creative consultants for As The World Turns and forced them to stay awake for 96 consecutive hours feeding them hallucinogenic mushroom omelets for the whole time, I’m not sure they could come up with something more outrageous than the Dallas Cowboys.
Here is Greg Cote of the Miami Herald on just one small aspect of the Cowboys soap opera:
“Terrell Owens will be starring in a new TV series on VH1. Because it is billed as a ‘reality show,’ I assume that means T.O. will be playing an insufferable, egotistical bore in steep career decline.”
The Minnesota Vikings won the NFC North last year; please do not forget that. Since the end of their playoff “run”, they have been evaluating their QB situation. The good news is that they recognize it for what it was, i.e. pathetic. Now, the Vikes have concluded that the resolution of that situation is to trade a 4th round pick to the Texans for Sage Rosenfels and then to give Rosenfels a two-year contract extension for $9M. I have not liked Tarvaris Jackson since the first time I saw him; he is better now than then but is still significantly sub-par. Gus Frerotte has been a journeyman for his whole career and will not climb above that level in the future. However, if Sage Rosenfels is “the answer”, that tells you just how marginal the coaches graded out those two incumbent QBs. The rest of the NFC North needs to realize that they lost the division last year to a team whose quarterbacking was somewhere north of “miserable” and somewhere south of “tolerable”.
Can someone explain to me why the Arizona Cardinals fired defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast? Didn’t the Cards’ defense play a significant role in their playoff run to the Super Bowl? A new form of the “blame-game” has broken out with regard to the NFL. If a unit on a team is under-performing or just plain stinking, then the fault must lie with the coordinator for that unit. Of course, that is a possibility. More likely, however, is that the players on the field are under-performing or just plain stinking. Despite what the talking heads say, football is much more about execution on the field than it is about “schemes”.
Earlier this week the Tampa Bay Bucs cut Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn, Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard and Cato June on the same day. Father Time catches up with everyone. That “cut list” would have been unthinkable five years ago.
Finally, let me allow Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle to summarize very compactly one other NFL personnel situation:
“Here’s Marshawn Lynch’s cruising checklist: No license plates? Check. Heavily tinted windows? Check. Four reefers and lighter? Check. Loaded 9 mm pistol? Check. No gun registration? Check. Recent guilty plea in incident where you struck a pedestrian and drove away? Check. Fellas, let’s roll! Lynch makes Michael Phelps look like Stephen Hawking.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…