When the Raiders are on the verge of releasing Jamarcus Russell, I have to ask myself, “When do you press the panic button?” There are 32 teams in the NFL and some need to make a change before it’s too late.
There are three degrees of “needing a change.” There’s the, “we need to do something before we’re tarred and feathered.” Also, the, “we need one more impact player and we need to get him at all costs.”
But the most dangerous is, “we think we might need to make a move, but we’ve already waited too long and we don’t even realize it.” The teams in this category are sitting on a powder keg.
This highest degree of “need” is also codependent on complacency. Even the best franchises think it’s “ok.” However, the danger lies beneath the surface.
Who’s ready to be eaten alive by their own stupidity?
Arizona’s Delicate Quarterback Condition
The Cardinals just retired Kurt Warner—a probable Hall of Famer—and they have only Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson in reserve.
To be fair, Derek Anderson is a pretty good QB. However, he isn’t Kurt Warner. Heck, he isn’t even Joe Flacco.
In light of this, they took John Skelton out Fordham in the 5th Round. Perhaps he could be a project, but this offense will not stay together without immediate “impact” at quarterback.
Anquan Bolden already hated it in Arizona when Kurt Warner was there. How long before Steve Breston and Larry Fitzgerald get tired of it? Not long under the Skelton, Leinart and Anderson regime.
Honestly, does Ken Whisenhunt think he can keep this team together while these guys “find themselves?”
The Cards took a “project” QB in the draft. They already have a “project” in Matt Leinart, and now a serviceable backup in Anderson. How does Whisenhunt explain this one?
“Ok boys, we’re going to shift to a run-focus this year. We’re trying to get Skelton, Anderson and Leinart acclimated. So, Larry, your numbers are going to suffer indefinitely.”
Yeah, that won’t go over well. You can’t miss an opportunity to trade up in the draft. You can’t then draft a “major project” at quarterback, and then let the offense suffer.
Are they going to sell the fans and the team on getting Jake Locker next year? I hope not. That would be a dastardly form of “false hope.”
It seems like the Cards are trying to replace a Hall of Famer with quarterback-by-committee. They just throw them all up against the wall and see who sticks.
If they’re buying their own hype—they don’t even know they are in a free fall. Where’s the “red phone” when you need it?
Oakland’s “Bay of Indecision”
The Raiders looked set to release Jamarcus Russell. Now, they don’t seem to be getting the “green light” from Al Davis. Are they going to take a few steps back?
Oakland had a great draft. They brought in Rolando McClain. They added multiple players on defense and even drafted two offensive tackles. They looked poised to move in a better direction.
But doesn’t holding on to Russell signal the, “it’ll work itself out,” philosophy? Oakland can’t afford to go one more second without making changes on the QB depth chart.
They have Jason Campbell—who could be their “man” for the next 10 years. However, letting Russell sit back there will always eat at Campbell. Why?
Jason Campbell will always wonder when Russell will be called up by the senile Al Davis. That can’t be a comforting thought.
Campbell will have more protection, more weapons, and a better defense, but he won’t have total security.
Total security comes when the team shows him that he alone is “the man” and that they are ready to carve a new path. Until then, he’ll always be on the edge of his seat.
The Raiders have made strides, but if they don’t take this final step, they may have held onto Russell for too long—killing Campbell’s “comfort zone.” Is that damage they can repair?
Campbell is a little fragile as it is. He understands instability, but keeping Russell around may be the proverbial “straw.”
If you aren’t pressing the panic button in Oakland—you should be.
You Don’t Have to be Barney Fife to Shoot Yourself in the Foot
The Eagles already traded Donovan McNabb to the Redskins—a division rival. Now, they are rewarding Kevin Kolb for being the last man standing.
Kolb was given a one-year $12.5 million extension this week. I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry, but the “red phone” should be out in Philly.
This team just jettisoned a Hall of Famer and rewarded their unproven backup with $12.5 million dollars. How do you explain that one to the team?
“Fellas, I know Donovan’s gone and that’s hard for some of you, but Kevin Kolb hasn’t done a damn thing and we’re giving his $12.5 million. Sorry, you’re not getting a raise anytime soon.”
If that’s not asking for mutiny—what is? The Eagles just destroyed their team’s chemistry. They traded the wrong guy, rewarded the wrong guy and offered nothing to the team at-large.
Kevin Kolb is hearing, “You’re the man,” and the team is hearing, “We could give a damn.” Kolb’s ego goes up—the team’s morale goes down.
That’s a disaster waiting to happen. The Eagles could have at least waited on the extension, drafted a “project” and made it a “competition” at quarterback.
Kolb would have a chance to earn the team’s respect, and he would be pushed to work hard. Now he has no incentive to work hard, and the team probably resents every penny of that 12.5 million.
The Steelers’ “Own Private Pond”
The Steelers are sitting on a sort of “lame duck” Quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger has alienated the fan base, his teammates and the ownership with his behavior. He also has nowhere to go—since he hasn’t been traded yet.
The Steelers probably figure that not trading him is “ok” since he can play and they have Dennis Dixon. However, Ben isn’t getting any younger, and he clearly isn’t getting any smarter.
He’s one more alleged sexual assault or one more motorcycle accident from forced retirement, indefinite suspension or the pokey. Can he really keep Pittsburgh “in limbo” like that?
Basically, the Roethlisberger situation is worse than the Favre situation in Minnesota. Brett Favre is just waiting to decide if he’ll play again. Ben could be stupid at any moment.
If Big Ben’s teammates don’t respect him, then how do the Steelers expect to win games? The team’s chemistry just went out the window “T.O. style.”
If the fans don’t like him then how can Pittsburgh be a hard place to play? The fan base might be noticeably disinterested.
If the ownership has shopped Roethlisberger, then how can there ever be offensive security with him at the helm? The team’s chemistry takes blow number two.
The Steelers should have made a move to get a QB in this draft. There were too many to go “quarterbackless.” Now the Steelers are a nanosecond from a catastrophe for the duration of Big Ben’s career.
The Steelers have already missed the mark, and they don’t even realize it. I just don’t see how they can compete with this reality tainting their locker room.
The Rooneys sent out an SOS and it wasn’t answered. This could be a long, slow fall for the Steelers.
I can’t make you believe me, but I can ask you one question. Would you want to be in the Raiders, Eagles, Cardinals or Steelers position right now?
The answer is no. Please don’t kid yourself. No one wants to be backed into a corner and—whether they admit it or not—all four of these teams are in a corner.
I wish I could be Patrick Swayze—RIP—and pull the, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner,” but these teams did it to themselves.
Every one of these teams could have an unbelievable season, but how long before my prophecies come true?
It’s only a matter of time.