It's time for some therapy. Every week in the NFL, players, coaches, media, fans, and etc, say or do something that ticks me off. I'm sure that I'm not the only one. So, after all of the games are played from the previous week I give myself and the people that read this article a little therapy. I do this by venting about some of the things people or saying or doing in the ford of NFL football. I just can't give a pass to some of these individuals and somebody has to argue the other side. Let's dive right into some of the topics that people seem to be giving a pass.
Buccaneers Bounce Back
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a bad team for many years, comically bad. It seemed that they would never amount to a winning program. They use to draft just based on talent and not factor in much more than that. The Bucs were the laughing stock of the NFL.
Then Rich McKay was hired to be the General Manager of the ghastly organization, McKay's philosophy was to draft players with not only talent but character as well. He one was one of the first GMs to evaluate draft prospects by how they acted off the field as well as on. Another thing that McKay did to show the value he placed on character was to hire Tony Dungy as the new Bucs coach. Tony Dungy was the poster boy for a NFL coach with morals and character. Tony would turn out to be the perfect leader for the talent McKay wanted to bring in. McKay brought in players such as Warrick Dunn, Derrick Brooks, Mike Alstott, and Ronde Barber. All of these players gave back to their community, not only because McKay asked this of all of his players but because it was in their character to do so.
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The team that McKay and Dungy built went on to the playoffs 6 times. The year after Dungy was fired, McKay wanted to hire Marvin Lewis but the ownership decided to go with Jon Gruden instead. Gruden went on to win the Super Bowl that year with McKay and Dungy's players. McKay went on to leave the Bucs following the next year, partly because the Falcons offered him President and General Manager position, but mostly to do with the organization sinking back into their old ways of decision making.
Gruden has since been released from his duties as head coach and was replaced by current coach Raheem Morris. Morris has also gone back to the tactic of evaluating players based on talent alone. A large portion of his draft picks have had run-ins either on or off the field. The winning ways have come back to Tampa Bay but at what cost? When a team is build around players with character issues, it's not a matter of if it will blow up, but when. Look at what happened to the Cowboys a few years ago. They had T.O., Pacman Jones, and Tank Johnson to name a few. They had the most talented team in the league that year but it didn't amount to winning because you can't have team chemistry on the field with low character guys.
The 2010 Bucs look very similar to that Cowboys team. I'll give you a few examples and let you make your own conclusions. The poster boy for the Bucs Bad Boy club is Aqib Talib. Talib was caught with marijuana in college a number of times. At the combine in 2008, it was reported that he failed a drug test. Aqib then got into a fight with his fellow rookie teammate, Cory Boyd at the NFL Rookie Symposium. In 2009, he assaulted a taxi cab driver. That same year, he got into another fight, with another teammate, Donald Penn. In this fight, Talib removed his helmet and started swinging it wildly at Penn and hit teammate, Torrie Cox in the face with it, resulting to a gash across Cox's face. This year Talib has gotten into it with officials and admitted that he has anger issues. During all of these altercations, Raheem Morris has been quick to make excuses for Talib.
Mike Williams was a talented wide receiver that most teams passed on because of off the field issues. In 2008, Williams was ruled academically ineligible and missed the season, which hurt his team. The next year, Mike was off to a stellar start, but half way through the season he quit on his team due to a possible suspension for breaking team rules. The Bucs still drafted him in the 4th round and he was promptly arrested for a DUI. Although his blood alcohol level came out to be .065 which is below the legal Florida limit of .08, Williams clearly put himself in position to let his teammates down again.
Legarrette Blount was picked up this season, after Jeff Fisher released him. Blount was a highly touted running back in college at Oregon. He decided to punch a Boise State player at the end of a game in college and this made his draft stock plummet. Blount also clashed with the Oregon coaching staff. He was suspended a few times by the staff for missing workouts and other activities. After the Titans released Blount, most teams still wouldn't touch him because they considered him a loose cannon. The Bucs however, were more than happy to sign Blount off of waivers without regard for his character.
Bucs tight end, Jeramy Stevens was arrested this season for possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Tampa Bay has had several players with run-ins this season. The problem is that Morris seems to be going after these guys as long as they can improve the team on the field. Drafting talented players with flaws never works for the long haul. Morris got a quick fix in the win / loss column but over time, this will come full circle. Raheem Morris is an enabler and it'll be the downfall of his reign in Tampa.
Firing Coaches Mid-Season
Since I was a little kid, I've always heard the media say, you don't want to fire your coach in the middle of the season. I never understood this. The Cowboys were the first to do it in 2010. They have won 3 of their last 4 since interim coach, Jason Garrett has taken over. The Vikings followed suit and their interim coach, Leslie Frazier hasn't done anything but win. The Denver Broncos are the latest team to go this route by firing Josh McDaniels. I applaud all 3 of these organizations.
Why wouldn't you fire a horrible coach during the season? You can talk to all of the top coaching candidates right now. Think about the competitive advantage the Broncos have over the Bengals right now. If both teams wanted Bill Cowher, the Broncos could go ahead and wine and dine him and hopefully have a gentleman's agreement in place for the end of the season. The Bengals will have to wait until the end of the year and hope one of the top candidates are still available. If the Broncos worked out a verbal agreement with a coach now, he would already be able to start evaluating his team's talent over the last 4 games. He would be able to watch the top college talent in bowl games and old game film a month or more before any other coaches. He could judge his assistant coaches talent and also start making calls out to other top assistant coaches, to possibly bring over to his team. There's a ton more positive things I could think of for firing your horrible coach mid season. How about the fact of not letting that coach ruin your team any more than he already has?
The main argument for keeping your coach until the end of the season is, that you don't want to give up on the season and you might look bad. Who cares? News flash, if you are getting fired, you have already tanked the season. If you put in an interim coach that doesn't know what he's doing, then you'll have a higher draft pick come April. Is this really what the media is concerned about? If the Carolina Panthers fired John Fox right now, do you really think their fans are going to be worried about the team finishing 1-15 instead of 3-13? What makes people even believe that Fox could coach this team to 2 more wins anyways. For that matter, Panthers fans would probably prefer 1-15 and the #1 pick in the draft. It would at least give them something to look forward to.
Perhaps I'm missing the big elephant in the room, but I don't think so. If you feel I am, let me know. Until someone does, it will continue to drive me crazy to hear some reporter saying, this firing didn't make sense at this point in the season. With that being said, fire John Fox, Marvin Lewis, Jeff Fisher, and Gary Kubiak ASAP!!!
Barry Richardson Meltdown
If you watched the Broncos / Chiefs game on Sunday then you probably noticed, the Chiefs' right tackle, Barry Richardson lose his mind after a false start. For those of you who didn't see the craziness, you can check out the footage here. Richardson's false start happens on a key goal line play, but it's what happens afterwards is what makes this so hilarious. Richardson gets yanked from the game after the bonehead play. As he walks down the sideline, someone says something to him that he doesn't like. It appears that Richardson is about to rip off someone's head. One of the assistant coaches tries to grab Barry and calm him down. Richardson then throws a Dragon Ball Z hand thrust right into the chest of the midget coach. It looked like American Gladiators, where the steroid freak takes on the little undersized guys and he just man handles him. I thought I was about to see Thunder Lips (Hulk Hogan from the Rocky movies) lip Balboa above his head and throw him into the crowd.
The funniest part is how all of the other players act like they didn't see anything happen and don't take up for the 3'8 120 lbs 89 year old coach as they all just keep staring at the field and acting like little punks who were to afraid to confront the mammoth Barry Richardson. Todd Haley, who always has an attitude problem with his players and seems to want to get in their face seemed fine with the whole ordeal and let Richardson back in the game!
Are you kidding me!?! How could you possibly let your player, hit your great grandfather and not immediately send him into the locker room. Was the win more important than disciplining a player who laid his hands on father time? I don't know if anything is being done in house, but if not, I will have zero respect for Todd Haley as a leader. He was more upset with Josh McDaniels beating the crap out of his defense than his offensive lineman beating the crap out of Methuselah! (He was the oldest man in the Bible, 969 years old! Gee wiz pick up a bible people.)
Well that's another week of football therapy in the books. I hope I hit on some of the issues that raised your blood pressure. If you have something that bugs you, shoot me an email, if it set me off too we'll talk about it here. After all, this is your therapy as much as mine. See you next week, where I'm sure someone will have done something stupid and I'll beat it into the ground until I feel I've vented for everyone who was upset by it.
Look for NFL Game Day on Sunday mornings, bringing you the match-ups and what to look for in each of that week's games. - Jayson Braddock
Jayson appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com.
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