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

round.

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.

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