[EDITOR'S NOTE] Now you guys knew you couldn’t hide from Kyle for long now that the offseason is upon us. He’s been laying in wait, ready to strike, and here’s his first salvo of what will no doubt be many during the offseason. Been a busy week for me this week, so I REALLY appreciate the guest entry, Kyle.
For those of you who are new to the site – and looking at the 2010 final numbers, there are a LOT of you, (the site is growing in a way I never imagined) – here’s how this works. I fly solo on this blog, but if you ever have something you want to get off your chest, positive or negative – as long as it’s coherently written I will put it up as a guest entry. You don’t have to agree with me, in fact, you can straight out think I suck – I really don’t care – but if you have something worth saying, you can always submit it to me and I’m happy to put it up here for discussion. With that, here’s Kyle’s plan for the 2011 offseason!
I am Rick Smith.
I am the General Manager Gary Kubiak handpicked to be the G.M.
This is my plan for 2011, starting…now.
BEFORE FREE AGENCY
I work really hard to convince the NFL that “Kubiak talked to Marvin Lewis about the defensive coordinator job prior to him accepting the head coaching position” constitutes acquiescing to the archaic “Rooney Rule”. I know we all want the Texans to do their due diligence, but, let’s just imagine that Smith and McNair were just as aware of how crappy the defense was as we all were. They may have been already working this for weeks, and, since Wade Phillips has been unemployed for the past two months, it’s neither surprising nor inappropriate if our front office had already talked to Wade about coming to Houston and if he thought our defense could handle a switch to the 3-4. Also, aside from Lewis who is off the board, Wade is pretty much the best option we have for an experienced DC who could be the next head coach if Kubiak lays yet another egg.
Jerome Solomon said we should inquire about Green Bay’s defensive line coach, but Solomon also didn’t realize that the Phillips 3-4 (which the Oilers ran when under Bum Phillips) isn’t a two-gap defense, so I’ll take that penalty and decline the one where he is charged for not having a pulse on the Texans fan base. Face it, guys (and gals). As much negativity as you’ve heard about Wade (who, by the way, has something Kooby has never had: a winning record as a head coach), you’ve heard of him. Say what you will about “finding the right guy”, but you don’t want another “Who?!?” like we’ve had with Richard Smith and Frank Bush.
To fill the other positions, I’d prioritize hiring Dat Nguyen as linebackers coach. The Linebacker corps, not the defensive line, is the part of the 3-4 transition that is most troublesome, and Nguyen has a proven track record of coaching it.
My secondary coach would be Van Malone, currently the secondary coach of Tulsa, but he’s been coaching secondaries for almost a decade, including four years at Texas A&M. Oh yeah, and Tulsa led the FBS with 24 interceptions last year (The Texans, despite playing 4 more games, had 13 in 2010), despite lacking a single member of the secondary that is warranting draft consideration this year.
With key coaching positions filled, I’d move on to re-signing players I wanted to keep:
TEXANS FREE AGENTS
Arian Foster (Exclusive Rights Free Agent) We don’t need to pay him extensively, but he’s worth more than what he’s getting now.
Bernard Pollard (Unrestricted Free Agent) Offer a multi-year deal around the market value for a solid starter-grade strong safety, and I think he’d take it, since he is not the #1 SS on the market if he bolts.
Vonta Leach (UFA) The highest-paid fullback contract in the NFL is 6 years, $18MM. Offer Leach 6 and $18.5. He’s earned it.
Owen Daniels (UFA) I’m pretty much anti-Owen Daniels because of the health risk, but his chemistry with Schaub is clear. However, in the effort to leverage his injury history and Dreessen/Casey against him, he’d balk at my offer and hit the free agent market and get offered more than I think he deserves.
Jacoby Jones (UFA) Bye.
Rashad Butler (UFA) He isn’t ready to be a full-time starter. Offer him two years at a salary indicative of a 6th man on the line, and if he really doesn’t like it, replace him.
Zac Diles (UFA) I think we overrate him, and I’d let him go find a 4-3 team that needs him. Yes, I know we’re thin at linebacker, but I intend to fix that.
TEXANS STILL UNDER CONTRACT
Andre’ Davis – Demand he take a paycut to veteran minimum or cut him. He’d be a fool not to take it. He’s probably cut after training camp, but I’m not going to just ditch him until I know we have a better solution at KR and Andre Johnson’s understudy. (I know we have people in place to do that, but they have not proven themselves yet)
Steve Slaton (under contract) and Derrick Ward (UFA) – My heart says keep them, but my brain reminds me that a struggling third-down back and a catch-my-breath backup power back can be found elsewhere with more upside.
Before I begin, I will attempt to make an assumption on free agency in the new CBA. I believe the salary cap will not be back. The late Gene Upshaw said that once a salary cap is gone, it is very difficult to bring back, and I think the 2010 test case worked well as far as payroll and “Steinbrenner Syndrome”. I think the owners will convince themselves that, between their financial savvy and the continuing profits the NFL continues to earn, they’ll be fine without a salary cap and the small-market teams will not suffer. After all, of the twelve highest valued teams as of 2009, only six are in the playoffs, and two playoff teams are in the bottom eleven of value. (Not to mention four of them, SD/STL/JAX/OAK, were in serious playoff contention) The players also won’t complain, since, as baseball has proven, nothing improves player salaries over time like the lack of a salary cap. So, without a salary cap, Bob McNair has no reason to be thrifty, and should continue his commitment to putting a winner on the field that he has started by hiring the most expensive DC on the market in Wade Phillips.
From there, my demands are reasonable. I only have four free agents I want, aside from the normal depth chart/training camp fodder.
1. Champ Bailey, FS, Denver – He’s still got it at 32, but he wants out of Denver, and he has said he wants to convert to FS a la Rod Woodson and Marcus Coleman to extend his shelf life. Free Safety is the biggest hole we have, and he fills it, plus the mentorship he could provide our young guys would be invaluable. Promise him six years if he comes to us first, and pay him to cancel his other engagements.
2. Kevin Burnett, ILB, San Diego – Rivers McCown at BRB hit the nail on the head about DeMeco Ryans. After such a serious injury, we have no idea what we are getting out of him. (Remember that we let Dunta walk because he changed after his big injury). Burnett has played in Dallas and San Diego, both teams heavily influenced by Wade on defense. He has hit his stride and started all 16 games for San Diego, to include being the “green dot” player on defense. Signing him is akin to the plan to sign Chris Bosh by the Rockets. If Yao (DeMeco) comes back, great! We have two great ILB’s to run this defense. If Yao (DeMeco) doesn’t come back at 100% (or at all), then we still have a solid presence in the middle that can run this defense.
3. Carlos Rogers, CB, Washington – Ike Taylor isn’t leaving Pittsburgh. I know they don’t overpay for FA’s over there, but a franchise with that much consistent success isn’t stupid enough to let its #1 CB walk without an heir apparent.
Washington, however, is. Rogers, like Ike, is a solid cover corner who, at 30, still has a few years left before he’s “nickel back” material. Rogers, like Ike but moreso than him, is underrated because he has hands like Jacoby Jones, so he doesn’t get very many interceptions. That said, I’d much rather sign a corner who actually wants out over a corner who would have to be seriously overpaid to get him out of his current team.
4. Antwan Barnes, OLB, San Diego – This is a quality backup I want on my team. He got 4 sacks this year despite playing behind Shaun Phillips, although he got more playing time as Larry English proved more and more to be a bust. That said, SD is a likely landing spot for Von Miller, so Barnes is expendable to them. He’ll come for a backup’s price, and adding him to the roster (along with Burnett) takes us out of desperation mode at LB going into the draft.
For now, I’m going to dismiss the idea of trading around in the draft, because I always seem to gravitate towards trading down far enough to earn a bonus second round pick, which we have yet to ever do as a franchise. Also, as always, I’m mocking based on the Draft Tek Online Simulator, so, before you complain that a certain player(s) “would never fall that far”, forward your complaint to them.
1st Round – Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Wade Phillips’ defense found success in Dallas, and a big part of that was DeMarcus Ware. You may wonder why he kept winning the sack title. Well, Wade likes to send the WOLB in his scheme on a blitz so often that his defense is almost like a
Kerrigan had a huge year in Purdue, and is almost the exact same size as Ware. Drafting Kerrigan covers our bases in case Cushing isn’t a good fit and Barwin loses a step after his big injury, and can be seen as a “if it worked before, try it
again” move for Wade as his 3-4 transition.
2nd round – Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
The glut at wideout after A.J. Green is going to cause a first-round talent to fall. It’s just a matter of whom. The efforts to push Jacoby Jones towards stardom (and his failure to do so) indicate that Kooby is no longer satisfied with Kevin Walter at the 2-spot. Baldwin has great size and would basically be Andre’s Anquan Boldin.
3rd round - Sione Fua, NT, Stanford
I think Amobi would be a great nose tackle in Wade’s scheme. After that, we got nothing.
4th round – Shiloh Keo, SS/PR, Idaho
Pollard may walk to get top SS money, and he may not improve his coverage skills. Keo’s job would be to either replace him or pressure him back to 2009 form, meanwhile he’s our new punt returner.
5th round – Charlie Gantt, TE, Michigan State
OH NO!!! NOT A TIGHT END!!! Seriously though, Anthony Hill is a bust. Gantt is a kick butt blocking tight end who can catch a pass if he has to (he was the recipient of the Michigan State fake punt that beat Notre Dame).
6th round – Derrick Locke, RB/KR, Kentucky
A small third-down back who can catch the ball and return kicks. So, yeah, Steve Slaton without the fumbling and the Brad Lidge Syndrome (a term most of you should be familiar with, if not I’ll explain in a reply later).
7th round – Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama
QB’s with no starting potential tend to fall, and I’m projecting that here. McElroy is a game manager who knows how to not screw stuff up, which is exactly what I want with my backup QB.
UDFA – Rookie Punter, P, College
Matt Turk is a free agent. Set him free.
…and so I submit this to your rigorous chastisement. Enjoy!