Jesse Pantuosco

Bump and Run

print article archives RSS

Front Office Friction

Thursday, May 4, 2017


We’ve all said it, usually in a dimly lit man cave, probably with more than a few empties scattered across the carpet. The room is adorned in sports memorabilia—framed jerseys, autographed balls, pennants over the mantle. There’s also a dent in the wall from the time you threw the remote across the room after a particularly devastating playoff loss. And the words come out: “What is this clown doing?! I’d be a better GM than Ryan Pace! I should run the Bears!”

 

No, token overconfident Monday morning quarterback, you should not, nor will you ever have the opportunity to run the Chicago Bears. But that doesn’t mean the Bears are doing it right. Just ask Evan Silva. He gave the Bears a big old F in his NFC Draft Grades. In Evan’s eyes, if last weekend were graduation, not only would the Bears not have graduated magna cum laude, they wouldn’t have even gotten a diploma.

 

So when did it all go wrong for the Bears? Well if I had to pinpoint it, I’d say about a month and a half ago, which apparently was when GM Ryan Pace decided he was going to do whatever it took to land Jared Goff, I mean North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (sorry, Freudian slip) with the team’s top draft pick. But because the Bears’ front office is filled with conniving egomaniacs fit for a Sorkin drama, head coach John Fox was the last to know of Pace’s secret plot. He had no inkling the Bears were going all in on Trubisky until hours before the draft. And, if reports around the league are true, Fox was pretty peeved about it.

 

Picking Trubisky, who couldn’t even beat out Marquise Williams for the starting job sophomore year (Google him, you won’t find much), at second overall was undeniably reckless. But trading away four picks (three this year and one next) to move up ONE spot? That’s the kind of unhinged maneuvering that will land you in the loony bin. While we’re at it, let’s give Niners rookie GM John Lynch credit for pulling off a flawless bait and switch. Lynch was so convincing in his pursuit of Trubisky that Pace essentially handed him a blank check. Being a good GM and a good poker player require similar skill sets and on draft night, Lynch played his hand perfectly.

 

Trubisky was probably a reach at No. 2 but we can look past that. Everyone is trying to strike it rich at quarterback these days. In the last two years alone we’ve had five teams trade up to draft a QB in the first round. That list includes the Rams (Jared Goff), Eagles (Carson Wentz), Bears (Trubisky), Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes) and the Texans (Deshaun Watson).

 

While none of these quarterbacks appear to be game-changers, at least in the short term, the general principle that led to them being drafted is correct: star quarterbacks win Super Bowls. Look at the four quarterbacks who advanced to the conference championship last year: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan. Combined, those four have won seven Super Bowls and five MVPs. Draft the next Brady, Rodgers, Ben or Matty Ice and you’re set for life, or at least the next decade.

 

For all the Senior Bowls, Combines, Pro Days and quarterback camps with Jon Gruden and his assortment of pool toys, there’s no guarantee that any of these quarterbacks can or will turn a franchise around. The best quarterback in last year’s draft was Dak Prescott. He was taken in the fourth round after hot shots like Christian Hackenberg (glued to the bench while the Jets crumbled around him), Jacoby Brissett (only played because Jimmy Garoppolo was hurt and Tom Brady was suspended), Cody Kessler (the Browns’ best quarterback last year, which means nothing) and Connor Cook (outplayed by Brock Osweiler in a playoff loss to Houston). Tom Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history (is it really an argument anymore?), was drafted 199th. In conclusion, who the heck knows?

 

But I digress, because none of this highlights the biggest problem with the Bears trading up for Trubisky at No. 2. For those who were too engrossed by college basketball at the time to notice, the Bears already addressed the quarterback position in free agency by signing Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract on March 10. So either the Bears just paid $45 million for a backup quarterback, or they wasted the No. 2 pick on a backup quarterback. Either way, one of these guys is going to be riding the pine this year.

 

Glennon was understandably miffed about the whole situation, telling reporters that he felt “cheated on.” Way to go, Bears. Not only did you overpay for a guy who’s spent the last two years holding Jameis Winston’s clipboard in Tampa (the Bears were essentially bidding against themselves after the Jets and Bills bowed out of the Glennon sweepstakes), but now you’ve managed to alienate him in only two months’ time. If the Bears were competing in the “How to Run Your Team Into the Ground Olympics,” they’d be taking home more medals than Michael Phelps.

 

Somehow, and I don’t say this lightly, Chicago’s front office may not be the most dysfunctional in the NFL. The Bears have no doubt made a compelling case, especially as rumors of infighting swirl, but in my estimation, Buffalo still takes the cake as the most unsettled front office in all of football. The Bills are without a GM at the moment after firing Doug Whaley over the weekend in a move that was long expected. In a way, it was cruel for the Bills to keep Whaley on as long as they did. The Bills waited until after the draft to hand him his pink slip, but Whaley’s fate was sealed as soon as the team hired Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott to replace outgoing coach Rex Ryan.

 

Since arriving in Western New York, McDermott has made it his mission to conquer everyone in his path including and especially Whaley. The biggest tug of war came in March when the Bills had to decide whether or not to exercise Tyrod Taylor’s option for 2017. Whaley was ready to pull the plug on Tyrod while McDermott and his coaching staff dug in their heels to keep him. The quarterback issue had also been a point of contention between Whaley and Ryan, another staunch advocate of Taylor. In the end, McDermott got his way and emasculated Whaley in the process. After losing the war on Tyrod, Whaley was reduced to sitting-duck status, a powerless figurehead waiting for the end. Soon reports surfaced of an ominous meeting to be held Sunday morning at Bills headquarters. Whaley was out of a job before he even sat down to read the morning paper.

 

Don’t feel too bad for Whaley. Being undermined by a rookie head coach isn’t the most dignified way to get canned, but Whaley’s tenure in Buffalo was never meant to last. You could see Whaley’s job slipping away as early as January when he gave an agonizing press conference framed around the subject of Rex Ryan’s firing. Whaley claimed no responsibility for that decision, which was either a blatant lie or an embarrassing confession, perhaps indicating that he didn’t have the authority to fire someone. Whaley didn’t draft well and only had one winning season under his leadership. At least now he can commiserate with ex-Sabres GM Tim Murray, who was fired by the Pegula family (they also own the Sabres) just days before Whaley suffered the same fate.

 

Whoever the Bills hire as their next GM will likely be a puppet for McDermott, who has assumed something close to absolute power in his short time with the organization. Based on his early dealings, it’s quite possible McDermott is in over his head. Keeping restricted free agent Mike Gillislee, one of the better backup running backs in football and a smart insurance policy for overworked bell cow LeSean McCoy, should have been a layup. The Bills could have tendered Gillislee at the second-round level for $2.797 million but skimped by paying him at the original-round level, which gave the Patriots the opening they needed to lure Gillislee to Foxboro.

 

The Bills also made the baffling decision not to exercise Sammy Watkins’ fifth-year option. That’s pretty soon to be giving up on a former fourth overall pick, especially one the Bills traded up for. Losing Watkins would leave Zay Jones and Corey Brown atop the Bills’ depth chart at wide receiver. You signed up for this, Sean. Get ready to burn the midnight oil because there’s work to be done in Buffalo and lots of it.

 

Quick Hits: It took Jamaal Charles longer than expected to resurface, but the four-time Pro Bowler has finally found a home in Denver. Charles’ one-year deal is reportedly worth up to $3.75 million, though it only carries a base salary of $1 million … Wednesday is the deadline for teams to exercise fifth-year options on players who were drafted in the first round of 2014. Kelvin Benjamin and Eric Ebron both had their options picked up while Calvin Pryor and Greg Robinson had theirs declined … The Lions have scheduled a workout with free agent Matt Asiata. The 29-year-old has rushed for 18 touchdowns over five NFL seasons … According to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, free agent LeGarrette Blount is “squarely in play” for the Giants and Lions. Blount rushed for an NFL-leading 18 touchdowns for New England in 2016 but the Patriots have since replaced him with Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee … The season is still months away but Giants coach Ben McAdoo is already referring to Paul Perkins as the team’s starting running back. Perkins heated up at the end of his rookie year, rushing for 226 yards over his last three regular season games … Cardinals VP of Player Personnel Terry McDonough received a four-year extension on Monday. McDonough had been a finalist for the 49ers’ GM vacancy this offseason but lost out to John Lynch … The Cardinals are reportedly “in talks” with free agent Blaine Gabbert. The 27-year-old began last season as the 49ers’ starting quarterback, but that experiment lasted only five games … Ladarius Green has been participating at OTAs. The Steelers tight end missed nine games while recovering from ankle surgery last year before suffering a season-ending concussion in Week 15 … Buccaneers GM Jason Licht said Doug Martin has looked “as good as [he’s] ever seen him” this offseason. Martin still has three games left on his suspension after testing positive for Adderall late last season … Browns Executive Vice President Sashi Brown said the team isn’t going to rush second-round pick DeShone Kizer in his development. Sophomore Cody Kessler is expected to open offseason workouts as the Browns’ starting quarterback ahead of Kizer and Texans castoff Brock Osweiler … Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune expects third-round rookie Alvin Kamara to fill a Darren Sproles-type role in the Saints’ running game this season. Mark Ingram and newcomer Adrian Peterson are expected to handle most of the early-down work for New Orleans … According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, “it wouldn’t be a surprise” if Kevin King emerged as a Week 1 starter at cornerback. The Packers drafted the University of Washington alum with the first pick of the second round on Friday night.



Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    Jesse: MLB Power Rankings

    Jesse: MLB Power Rankings
  •  
    Short: Saves & Steals

    Short: Saves & Steals
  •  
    Jesse: MLB Power Rankings

    Jesse: MLB Power Rankings
  •  
    Boyer: Hot Hitters

    Boyer: Hot Hitters
  •  
    Jesse: MLB Power Rankings

    Jesse: MLB Power Rankings
  •  
    Boyer: Hot Hitters

    Boyer: Hot Hitters
  •  
    Jesse: MLB Power Rankings

    Jesse: MLB Power Rankings
  •  
    Boyer: Hot Hitters

    Boyer: Hot Hitters