After the draft and before training camp is one of the doldrums of the football off-season period. Sure, there will be mini camps and rookie camps and all the fun that entails, but by and large between the draft and training camp, it’s (on field) business as usual for a new coaching staff.
Until I read Vic Carucci’s piece last week regarding McDermott and how his team will lack for star-power. I agreed with the general premise, that a Brandon-led search for ticket selling team members no longer will occur with McDermott at the helm, but this part here is what led to my confusion – and later, frustration at the zero-sum game being thrown out:
Although McDermott had been in Philadelphia with McCoy, he would have considered the ramifications of picking up the huge contract of a running back in his late 20s. He also would have been less than enthused about the idea of giving him what amounted to a bribe, increasing his pay so that he would agree to come to a place he had no interest in playing. Those are the types of short-sighted decisions that, in the long run, can come back to bite you.
Short-sighted decisions is quite fair with regard to the extension (bribe, Vic’s totally right it was a bribe) to get Shady to come to Buffalo. Had McDermott been here and not Rex, would he have needed said bribe? We don’t know because it didn’t happen. These sorts of mental exercises are fun and all – and Lord knows I extrapolate a lot from a little myself, but I think that’s a step too far.
And why, pray tell do I say that? Because of Week 1 2014 for the Carolina Panthers – a 20-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That game featured all-everything QB Cam Newton being out due to injury and all hands were on deck to stay ahead of an NFC South rival, including one Greg Hardy. Hardy would have three tackles, 1 assist and a sack in the game. This would also be the only game Hardy played in that year because of the domestic violence case that had erupted that past summer, while he was a franchise player.
In July, with Holder at his side, Zamora said Hardy’s conviction “sent a strong message to the people of Mecklenburg County that it doesn’t matter if you’re an average Joe or if you’re a professional athlete that plays for the Carolina Panthers: If you assault a woman and you communicate to that woman that you will kill them, you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted, and you will be convicted.”
Vic has a great point about finding players that fit and avoiding the press clippings for their own sakes. However when it comes to picking players that were in lower draft strata, or folks that don’t fit, Sean McDermott could have told his head coach he didn’t want to play a man in even one game that was documented doing what Greg Hardy did to his girlfriend. If we’re going to play what if to the Shady trade, we can talk straight up about the Hardy game.
And that leads to the bigger issue when it comes to the examination and over-evaluation of head coaches – this imposed idyllic structure that “he would never do that!” with regard to anything. Coaches at the end of the day want to win and want to keep their jobs. Now, in Buffalo, perhaps McDermott will attempt to ensure that the Bills never get into that situation and that was the lesson learned from even playing Hardy in the one game. However, we’ll have to see that to know it.
The only other issue I had was with the mindset Vic took when discussing Watkins and stars in general:
The coach gets to look at him with a fresh set of eyes that says all of the spectacular plays Watkins made at Clemson and those flashes of brilliance he has shown as a pro mean nothing right now. What matters is that Watkins is, once again, healing from one of the double-digit injuries he has had since his rookie season. Therefore, it didn’t make any sense to McDermott that the Bills pick up a fifth-year option on his contract that would have been guaranteed against injury.
No more wild swings for the fences. No more going after names and highlight-reel résumés that create all kinds of excitement months before there are actual results.
The last part I agree with totally – selling highlights prior to results is a dangerous game that’s been going on for oh, about 10, 15 years at this point. The Watkins part I disagree with because – even without Watkins, the Bills that year were picking in the top ten. Any player picked in the top ten is going to get hype. And it’s unfair to say a team with Cam Newton, an emerging Luke Kuechly, Josh Norman and Greg “With the 3rd Leg” Olsen is bereft of stars.
The Bills trading their 2015 1st rounder to get him made the Watkins hype nearly insurmountable, but the fact remains, had the Bills drafted Odell Beckham, Jr at 8, he would not have had a difference in expectation. In fact, if anything we may have dealt with seeing all the fun articles about Beckham “not having his head in the game” or “is he more about himself than the team” etc etc.
But that’s me going into the choose your own adventure book and skipping pages.