Monday, September 6, 2010

Unconventional NFL offseason moves

By Jason Jones (posted by Rick Morris)

This offseason, more so than any other that I can remember, can be considered the "Year of the Single Big Move.” The question is: will it work? In the NFL, there are a number of blueprints to how to build a championship team. In most cases, we are looking at talent instead of star power, cohesiveness instead of stats. The only question is: can it work the other way?

Think of all of the big offseason moves. In some years, you could notice that Team A got a Top 5 OG, drafted a flashy first-round WR, got a solid CB who couldn't start on his previous team but has a legitimate chance to on the new team, and a big ticket RB to fill a void that has been missing for a long time. That could be any team.

But what does it say when a quarter of the 32 teams in the NFL pursued one singular acquisition? In some cases, taking a pretty good to the next-level or not-so-good team to at least mediocrity?

Starting with some of the more exciting moves...Terrell Owens to the Bengals. Now before you scoff...even if he never gets back to where he was statistically, it is still a Fitzgerald/Boldin-type of situation. There is not a defensive coordinator currently employed who is not seriously concerned with figuring out Carson Palmer to OchoCinco, T.O., Jordan Shipley, Jermaine Gresham -- and Benson running out of the backfield. Like him or not, T.O. makes that offense ridiculous.

Second only to Favre in terms of the QB most likely to get criticized, Donovan McNabb finally departs from the Eagles (which I'll be honest, I never thought I'd see) and not only gets traded in-conference, but gets traded in-division to the Redskins. Now clearly, the Redskins are far more than a QB away. However, McNabb knows how to throw to small as well as subpar receivers. Can he make Santana Moss the real deal? I would lean towards saying no, but McNabb is arguably the best QB they've had since they played at RFK or since Joe Theismann was around...take your pick.

Anquan Boldin. That move might not concern most of you, but it scares the sh&@ out of me. Let take one of the top three rushing attacks (approximately), give them a big reliable young QB with a cannon (that the coaches have handcuffed) and maintain a defense that over the last decade is the best in the NFL (average not cumulative). And if that's not enough, give them a Pro Bowl WR who was only the #2 at his previous team because the #1 may be the most talented WR in the game (that one may be debatable). Also, let’s not forget that Mr. Boldin has a chip on his shoulder larger than the Inner Harbor.

This one is my favorite and is similar to the Ravens. The Miami Dolphins pay the man. Brandon Marshall, who may go down as the most undervalued WR in 20 years, with three seasons of over 100 catches and 1000 yds (two of those north of 1200), goes to a team who has not had a legit Pro Bowl WR since...O.J. McDuffie??? Nope, he didn’t make it. The last time the Dolphins had one of the league’s best at that position, THEY WENT UNDEFEATED.

Now for the other moves...The St. Louis Rams are putting everything on Sam Bradford. I can't disagree with the decision, but that kid is going to get killed in Year One. His #1 WR (Donnie Avery) is out all year. Well, if all else fails...Steven Jackson is good for 1,400 yds win, lose or draw.

The Raiders...yes that’s right, the Raiders have improved at the QB position. Before you ask, "Did I miss something, what Hall of Fame-bound QB was dumb enough to go there?" it wasn't anywhere near that level of talent. It is addition by subtraction, then a small addition. No matter where you are on the legitimacy of either JaMarcus Russell or Jason Campbell, one thing is not up for debate, Campbell is better than Russell. Way to milk that #1 overall draft pick contract.

And of course my current favorite: subtract Jay Cutler (I wasn't a huge fan anyway), subtract Brandon Marshall, move to a 3-4, draft a shifty RB to a team who is known for featuring between-the-tackles RBs, draft a "tweener" de/olb, sign the great Brian Dawkins (even if he is past his prime), as well as a series of New England what is the next move? Trade for an elite WR not named Brandon Marshall? Sign a Pro Bowl free agent? No. How about we draft Tim Tebow? All the scouts say he can't play QB at the next level but would be intriguing in a "wild horses" formation. For the record, I am a Tebow convert. I see the plan in Denver, I can see what they are trying to do. And for the first time, I've seen a new coach have an unorthodox plan...and I see it coming together. I have seen (in the preseason, granted) Tebow make throws that both Orton and Quinn cannot make, which for now is good enough for me.

And last but certainly not least, the kicker to this whole debate: the New York Jets. As far as a splash is concerned, no one player they've acquired lives up to a McNabb or Marshall. However, add Antonio Cromartie, LaDainian Tomlinson, Santonio Holmes, Joey Porter, and a John Connor (R) and you have more than one serious offseason move. Regardless of how you feel about each of those guys in their respective places in their careers, how does it measure up? If Revis comes back, is it still the number 1 defense? If so, with the addition of Jason Taylor, Cromartie and a healthy Kris Jenkins, are they Number One by a larger margin? And on an offense similar to the Bengals, think about Mark Sanchez throwing to Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Jericho Cotchery, Dustin Keller, Shonn Greene and LT. Or does that maybe feel like the poor man's version of the Bengals? The league is always changing, adapting, then trying to change again. My only question is, "Will it work?” I'm sure the Steelers, Colts, and Chargers would decline to believe so.

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