From the GM's Chair
I’ve always said that if your team can have a .500 record by Thanksgiving, you’ll have a
chance at making the playoffs. However, this year, that may not be good enough in the AFC
with both Las Vegas and Baltimore currently sitting at 6-5 and on the outside looking in.
Neither team has any margin for error the rest of the season and each has to treat the
games left on the schedule as a playoff game every week. Meanwhile, in the NFC, you’re
going to have a seven- or possibly a six-win team make it to the playoffs, representing the
Eastern Division and at 5-6, both the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, as well as the
San Francisco 49ers, are still in the hunt. At this point, everyone has “COVID-19 fatigue” but
it really doesn’t matter. Time to suck it up buttercup and make the dash for cash now!
Would Bill Belichick really tank in Week 17 vs the Jets if it meant they wouldn’t get Trevor Lawrence?
Hummmm, I have never been a believer of tanking or that it actually ever happens, but this
is a good one. Teams are scrambling now to prioritize their draft boards “by position” with
scouting reports and initial impressions (it’s a long process). If Belichick and his staff
determine that Lawrence is THAT GOOD, and a Jets loss guarantees the first pick for New
York, then why not play a few more of your young guys? Especially if it means that
Jacksonville could draft Lawrence instead of the Jets, effectively keeping him off the roster
of another team in the AFC East for the foreseeable future. Maybe the Patriots will start
backup/young QB Jarrett Stidham? Cam Newton won’t be back and they need to find some answers about other players anyway. Playing the younger players in the final game would kill two birds with one stone. I’m not saying he would do it, but I bet its being discussed in the deep dark parts of the dark side of New England Patriots headquarters.
Will Detroit QB Matt Stafford be a LION in 2021?
With the firing of both their head coach and general manager this week, all jobs outside of
the Ford Motor Company are in limbo in Detroit. This situation includes their QB, a 12-year
veteran and face of the franchise, thru a gambit of rebuilds and coaching changes. Detroit
has not won a single division title, not hosted a playoff game during Matt Stafford’s tenure in the Motor City and he has yet to be part of a playoff win (Lions have not won a playoff game in 29 years). It’s crazy how time flies. In 2006, I remember returning to Miami (I was GM of the Dolphins) from a scouting trip to Athens where I had just seen Vanderbilt beat Georgia in a colossal upset. I walked into Nick Saban’s office on Sunday morning and he asked me if I had I seen anything interesting. It was a terrible loss for Georgia, but I remember telling him about a certain freshman QB from Texas who had finished the game for the Bulldogs and looked like he had the makings of a future NFL QB whenever he decided to enter the draft. Saban nodded to me and said that he had heard of the kid and we both made mental notes to keep track of his progress. Now fast-forward 15 years and yet another decision maker in Detroit will again assess Stafford’s value to their organization.
It’s hard not to respect what Stafford has been through. He has shown class, toughness and
flashes of rare skill through all of the adversity yet he’s got little to show for it. I don’t think
the losing culture in Detroit is of his making at all. In order to move on from him (he will be
33 during 2021 season) the new decision makers will have to: 1) fall in love with another
option 2) get above and beyond fair compensation in return and 3) make it work with the
salary cap. Stafford has a roster bonus due in February that, if paid, would pretty much
exclude him moving to another team. When exercised, his cap count approaches $35
million and with a reduced cap of $175 million per team in 2021, that’s a big pill to swallow.
At the end of the day, I just don’t see this as being possible. I think it’s more likely that
Stafford becomes part of the solution going forward. If I were the new general manager of
the Lions, I would still look to draft a young, talented QB to groom and develop for the
future. In this coming draft, one of those QBs might be available at the top of the second
Why did Jacksonville fire only GM Dave Caldwell and not the head coach as well?
Well, obviously Caldwell had been in charge of the construction of this team, not coaching
it. This, for all intents and purposes, was the third re-tool/rebuild in his tenure with the team.
Fans had grown restless and national media had made the Jags a punchline because of the
exodus of players over the last year or so and what it would mean to their win/loss record
this year. My guess, and I really don’t know, is that Caldwell thought the Jaguars would be
‘better” and represented this to ownership. The truth is, this team lacks talent, it lacks
direction, and for those of us on the outside, it lacked hope for the future. This was a way for
ownership to send a message to the fan base that enough is enough. Personally, it was
probably a couple years late in coming, but making Caldwell the fourth GM to be fired
during the season is unprecedented. The owner, Shad Kahn, clearly has an affinity for HC
Doug Marrone by tying his fate to that of the new GM, otherwise he would have jettisoned
him as well. This latest move gives ownership a chance to start the search now for a new
football chief and keep the players/locker room focused on their own jobs, not adjusting to
an interim coach. Make no mistake, it’s likely changes will continue in Jacksonville once the
season is over.