Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Chargers GM gets contract extension, meaning absolutely nothing

Deviating a bit from the Tuesday-only structure...

If 2007 taught us anything, it's that a signed coaching or front office contract in pro or college football is nothing but a paper airplane waiting to be made. It continues to surprise me that front office contract signings are considered headline news. As stated in John Clayton's article:

"The Chargers, who made the playoffs for the third time in four years, rewarded general manager A.J. Smith with a five-year, $11 million extension that will keep him in charge through the 2014 season."

Come on, no it won't. All it means is, he gets to stick around for the 2008 draft and ensuing season, and he'll get a boatload of money for it. Anything after that is fair game, assuming Smith would want to stick around after 2008 and leave for some other random job. Want proof? Peter King said in his November 18th Monday Morning QB column, regarding Brian Billick, after the Ravens lost to Cleveland in Week 11, their fourth loss in a row:

"3. I think, speaking of coaches not far from the Beltway, Brian Billick's not going anywhere, people. Not this year. Not in the first year of a four-year contract. Not with $15 million or so due him if he were to get whacked. Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti's not Dan Snyder in the patience or disposable-income departments."

Uh huh. And what happens? Billick's gone as soon as the season's done. Contract shmontract.

Let's say for example the Chargers lose to Tennessee on Sunday. Let's say Smith has an average, not particularly inspiring draft in June. Let's say the Chargers miss the playoffs in 2008. What then? Who knows. All I know is, the contract doesn't matter. Billick's situation is proof of that, Bobby Petrino's past two coaching gigs in Louisville and Atlanta are proof... hell, Nick Saban's entire CAREER is proof, practically.

Bear in mind this isn't an attack directly at Smith, who's a fine GM, but rather at the entire NFL and NCAA coaching/front office culture. It's a little sad and kind of naive to continue to believe that news like this even means anything anymore.

In fact, they say if you listen real closely, you can hear a couple coaches and GMs folding up their contracts into mock F-16s...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Goodbye, Troy Williamson

"Jackson rolls out... he's got a man wide open, it's Williamson! And... he DROPS IT!! Incomplete!" - Sam Rosen, FOX Sports, during the Minnesota/Denver game on 12/30/07

Even before Sunday's loss to Denver, I was thinking of writing an obituary for Troy Williamson's career in a Vikings uniform. But after the game, it seemed too cruel. What an agonizing way to go. And come on, you know he's gone... and for his sake, I hope he is.

I was prepared to do a comparison of Williamson to a ton of other young wide receivers to prove how most wideouts begin to come into their own in their 3rd year in the league. I was going to talk about guys taken in the same draft class as him like Braylon Edwards and Roddy White and even Matt Jones, and how they're starting to emerge. Edwards is even going to the Pro Bowl.

But I don't even have to bother doing that now. Everybody saw the game on Sunday, everybody saw the awful AWFUL drop of that wide-open deep pass down the left sideline, everybody saw the 3rd-and-5 pass bounce off his chest that would have been a sure first down. To rub it in further wouldn't be too fair. I mean, his whole Vikings career hasn't exactly been fair from the start.

Williamson was the 7th overall player taken in the 2005 NFL draft, a few months after the Vikings had traded the amazing Randy Moss. It was a dumb idea to pick Williamson in the first place, and not because many thought they should've taken Mike Williams. (Surprise! Both guys suck!) While anybody that would've been taken with this draft pick would have bore the stigma of being considered, what the Vikings believed at the time, to be adequate compensation for one of the best wide receivers in NFL history, it was dumb to actually pick a LITERAL REPLACEMENT for him. How is that fair to Williamson? He's supposed to have a chance in hell with all that pressure immediately placed on him? Why didn't they just slap the number 84 on him while they were at it? Granted, they did need a playmaking wide receiver, but chalk this one up as a victory to drafting the best player available over drafting for need. But I digress.

Unfortunately for him, all that pressure seemed to manifest itself after that first key drop last year against San Francisco. He seemed to have major confidence issues after that, leading for him to get his eyes checked (!) and everything. Uh, shouldn't management at the time have evaluated that before drafting him?

So I bid to Troy Williamson good luck, wherever he ends up. He deserves it, after the hell he's had to go through here. And I would think more people would throw him a bone, but uh... well... you know...