We officially SUCK and have been given the award of such to draft 1st in all Rounds of the upcoming 2020 draft. Now I'm officially calling it "OK" to start the Mockumentaries that will probably dwarf all other common sense discussion from now to the end of the 2020 draft that will be held in Las Vegas April 23-25.
That said, you had to be impressed that the team did not go easy into the night (or the day) in Miami. Some may have pinched themselves when Andy Dalton led a 16-point in 33 second barrage to end regulation and sent the game into a somewhat surreal overtime.... but then we were reminded of why we are so discontent with this squad when we watched Andy Dalton muster only 13 yards on 6 plays in OT. Dalton turns it on and off (mostly off) like a water fountain. Funny how that works.
Now it's time to do two things: plan on kicking the Browns' collective butts next Sunday and figuring out how to start turning things around here.
As far as the Browns game goes, I'm going to leave that to smarter, more energetic people. I think this will be a fun game to watch because there no longer is pressure to win, lose, or do anything other than beat the Browns on one day at the end of a really crappy season. And the Browns currently are a mess, too.
So here is the approach to thing two in a stepwise fashion:
1. Ownership: who is calling the shots right now? Is is still all Mike Brown? Or are Katie & Mike doing the work? Is Duke Tobin having the final say in personnel? Does Zac Taylor have much of a say in all things personnel? Funny... we really don't know the answers to these questions, do we? By the outcome, I'd have to say that Mike Brown still has his hands on (or around) everything. Does he stick his opinion in there and make Tobin and Taylor accede to his decisions? It's still looking like a "Probably" answer on this one and probably isn't going to change (as was the case when PB was still around) until Mike Brown is no longer able to ride his golf cart.
2. Staff: We probably need to reference scouting, medical, and coaching. Not sure how we put together decision making, but it's the common statement that our scouting department is amongst the smallest in the league. That won't change until there is resolution in part 1 noted above (Ownership). Why are we way above the curve on injuries and in signing/drafting guys who are injured.... or fail to sign a guy (Shaq Barrett) on medical grounds who then goes on to be one of the league leaders in sacks? I think this again goes to a failure of communication, leadership, and decision making process which again points to part 1 above (Ownership). Finally, what's up with coaching? Are we happy with how things are working under Taylor, his Coordinators, and the position coaches? Our D again ranked very low in the league, but we did see some limited growth at LB in Pratt and on the OL where Bobby Hart played better the last half of the season, Miller was consistent, Hopkins performed quite well, and Glenn provided some improved LT play down the stretch when healthy. The improvements in Hart and Hopkins have to be a little bright spot in my opinion. Additionally, the emergence of Joe Mixon over the last half of the season was a bright spot of growth not only for Mixon and the OL but also for Taylor (re: play calling / more effective use of run) and Jim Turner (finding a way to make a makeshift OL work). We struggled of course with a very inconsistent Andy Dalton who most now acknowledge is not the answer for this franchise, but what happened to all the QB coaching expertise that was going to get the most from Dalton? WORRISOME, I think. On D are we thinking yet that Lou Anarumo is maybe in over his head? The DL played better the second half in terms of getting pressure on opposing QBs and doing a bit better against the run, but the LBs were terrible with the vets showing very little or NO improvement over the course of the season. Pratt did improve but has a lot of holes in his game (from tackling to pass coverage) and definitely is a huge question mark as to whether he'll ever be a capable starter. And the DBs struggled. WJax was inconsistent and downright terrible at times only two years after being labeled as the next potential shut-down NFL CB. Put this all together and you really don't know what we have or where we're headed. Will 2020 bring an uptick with improved personal fit to scheme or will it be Dave Shula 2.0? No matter what the personnel, the NFL is a league where coaching ultimately makes the difference between good and championship teams. Unfortunately, right now we just can't be too confident that Zac Taylor & Co. will be increasingly successful moving forward based on what we saw and experienced the past 12 months. But PS... Darrin Simmons continues to shine with whatever he's given.
3. Personnel: We covered a bunch above and have talked and talked about the issues. The big issues moving forward that we need to settle (which we probably can't do fully by 2020):
* Offense: QB.. we have the 1st pick and figure to replace Dalton with Joe Burrow. Who will back up? Will Burrow start right away? RB... need to extend Joe Mixon before 2021 and start getting RB3 involved in the O. WR... need to figure out where we're going with Green and whether we extend Ross for year 5. Based on these two decisions, we need to find our WR1. TE... Eifert is a UFA again, so we need to figure out whether there is mutual interest for another season. OL... does Glenn stay and move (again) to LG? Can we get Hopkins re-signed? How do Price and Jordan fit in moving forward? Do we replace Hart in 2020 or 2021?
* Defense: DL... do we bring back Billings, Wynn? Need to extend Lawson? Is Glasgow still in the picture? Do we have enough at DE now or need to add? LB is a mess, and we can't be sure that anyone (including Pratt) is a keeper which means that we need 2-3 upgrades ASAP. At CB the play has deteriorated due to attrition and inability to stay healthy. Do we need another starting caliber CB? If so, UFA or draft pick? What about Safety and our inability to cover TEs and RBs effectively (also a LB problem of course)? If we're going to play alternative scheme D's, would it make sense to bring in a hybrid S/OLB who is a better fit in that role than Shawn Williams?
* STs: K... do we stick with Bullard (and the "competition" that portends with the late season PS signing of Kaare Vedvik?
In coming up with a comprehensive answer to these questions posed, I'd like to hear your comprehensive approach in a manner that includes:
* How long do you think we should plan for our fix to require?
* How long does Taylor get to start showing real promise? How do you measure that, and what are the short, intermediate, and long term expectations? What coaching changes do we need to make for 2020?
* Using the current cap constraints (with knowledge that Dalton @ $17.5 mil and Green at $15.1 mil are immediate concerns, that the 2020 cap figures to increase about $10 mil, that Joe Burrow will coat $10 mil/yr, and that we need to also consider extensions for the following: 2020: Green, Eifert, Hopkins, Billings, Vigil, Wynn, Dennard; 2021: Mixon, Lawson, WJax, Wilson, Glasgow, Ross, Glenn, Tupou
* What is your order of importance for fixing particular areas of the team? Group your choices into the following categories: QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, DL, LB, DB, STs
* Put together a rough plan for what you'd do this off-season starting with own UFA re-signings, outside UFA signings (with note of how that might impact ability to recover 2021 Comp picks), NFL college draft, and undrafted UFA signings.
I'll throw my rough thoughts and plan onto a first response below.