'The NFL Beat': Angelo Gets the Axe and More
NFL notes and analysis
By Alex Dunlap,
5:10PM, Fri. Jan. 6, 2012
If “The NFL Beat” were a rap video, it would include many, many beautiful women. The video’s director would be the rap star’s childhood friend and lead member of his posse. This director would have no verifiable production experience, and would tell crew workers that his taste in clothing and dental bling was “exquisite."
But that is Hollywood smoke and mirrors. This is "The NFL Beat," and no one is safe in this gangster’s paradise.
Jerry Angelo Gets the Axe
One of the most notable axes to fall as nonplayoff teams begin to do some early spring cleaning within their respective organizations was wielded by the Chicago Bears, who sent long-time general manager Jerry Angelo packing Tuesday.
As a life-long Bears fan, it is hard for me to know where to start when I talk about Jerry Angelo. So, here’s what we’ll do. We’re going to look at his front-office bio on the Bears website, and expound upon his résumé a little bit.
“Jerry Angelo has brought a clear vision to Bears football after guiding Chicago to three division championships since joining the team as general manager prior to the 2001 campaign, culminating in the team's 2006 NFC Championship and the organization's first Super Bowl appearance in 21 years.”
He has also missed the playoffs four out of the last five seasons and has just over a .500 winning percentage during his stint in Chicago.
“Rewarding core players, building through the draft and managing the salary cap are the cornerstones of Angelo's direction. His plan has created stability in Chicago and generated hope as the Bears continue to build upon a strong nucleus of talent.”
Angelo’s mission statement regarding the free agent market was always, “free agency starts at home.” This mantra would seem to indicate an optimal strategy for retention of key employees. Maybe someone should ask Matt Forte, one of the league’s elite running backs, about how “core players” are rewarded in Chicago. Before having his season wiped out due to injury, Forte was snubbed over and over regarding renegotiation of his criminally low $600,000 a year contract. A number of NFL running backs who are far less talented and productive earn more than seven times that number.
As for the “strong nucleus of talent," the Bears currently have the league's worst WR corps. Their offensive line is a makeshift disaster. They have a starting defensive lineman that played running back in college. (This is after using 15 draft picks in the first four rounds on defensive linemen during his time in Chicago.) The best member of their secondary (Charles Tillman) is among the league’s Top 10 most burned defenders.
“The draft, the primary means of bringing new talent to any NFL team, has been accentuated under Angelo.”
“Accentuated” must mean “crapped on” in this bio writer’s language. Matt Millen is widely thought of as the worst GM in recent history, and his drafts look genius compared to what Angelo has pulled off. Only one-fourth of the players Angelo has drafted currently remain on the Bears roster. His first-round-pick history has been nothing short of disastrous. Of his seven first-round picks, the greatest impact has come from DL Tommie Harris, who is a good player, but not worthy of being the biggest feather in any professional evaluator’s scouting cap. He has been even worse picking in later rounds, drafting bust after bust.
No official announcement has been made regarding Senior Bowl NFL coaching staffs as assigned by the National Football League, but sources close to the team feel that it is a foregone conclusion that head coach Leslie Frazier will take his soon-to-be-reassembled Vikings staff to Mobile, Ala., at the end of the month to coach one of the All-Star teams.
Sources have told our friends at ESPN Twin Cities that “[Frazier] is so convinced [the Vikings will be coaching one of the Senior Bowl Squads] that he asked offensive line coach Jeff Davidson to delay hip-replacement surgery.” (Until after the week starting Jan. 23.)
Let me point a few things out. The Vikings are awful. They are a 3-13 team that took what I believe to be irresponsible gambles with personnel when the games were meaningless. The Vikings most indispensable asset, RB Adrian Peterson, tore his ACL in the second to last game of the season, playing for a two-win team. Their money-in-the-bank all-star was coming off an injury and they showed no precaution, even with a more-than-capable back-up in Toby Gerhart who could start for 40% of NFL teams today. Peterson is an elite back like no other in the league, but he is getting to the age where an ACL tear can take away enough burst to bring you back into the bell curve a little. He has a terrible injury history, and I just don’t see why you take the risk. I don’t care if he says he wants to play. I hate to say I told you so, but look at the Vikings rundown in this column. I told you so. This is Leslie Frazier’s last shot, and honestly, I think he’s amazed he’s gotten it.
This should put any shuffling of position coaches and new coordinators into immediate focus. The stand-out candidates for getting canned are defensive coordinator Fred Pagac and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, who has reportedly already told certain players he will not be returning. Assistant HC/LBs Mike Singletary is a close friend of Frazier, but has acted in a very non-Mike-Singletary manner this season, consistently missing meetings and shirking responsibility. He has also managed to keep his pants on during speeches and has ceased awkwardly attempting to quote Winston Churchill at press conferences. I do not think he will be a candidate for defensive coordinator, and I believe he might be told to get his act together if he wants to keep his current job. Frazier is on a hot seat himself. Super hot. He could end up getting fired right after this goes to press, but I’m breaking news here. No favors for friends at this point if you are in Leslie Frazier’s shoes.
If this development occurs, it throws a little wrench into the preparation patterns for those of us who will be in attendance. We won't really even know what defensive base they'll be running until some sort of decision or hire/set of hires is made. On the other side of the coin, it will give us an interesting first glimpse of what Frazier may be trying to bring to Minnesota’s new culture.
A Bit More on the Senior Bowl
Reports surfaced that Ohio State will be sending RB Dan Herron, LT Mike Adams, and C Mike Brewster to Mobile, Ala., later this month, as they had accepted invitations to the Senior Bowl. I have since spoken with Buckeye Sports Information Directors for football Jerry Emig. He had no knowledge of any of them accepting invites, but admitted that these are things he sometimes deals with on the back end. And to be honest, it's true. As a high-profile university’s sports information director your job is to deal with the tough stuff, not the nice invitation processes.
He said he hoped to “have a few players in that game, but the only (thing like that) we’ve had in this office was sending a photo of DeVier Posey for the Shrine Game.” (Which is an interesting bit of news in itself.) The Shrine Game is generally considered to be the “Senior Bowl Jr.” and Devier Posey would likely be poised for much more heralded billing as a prospect had he not missed 10 games last season due to suspension.
As for the original three, it seems like the writing on the wall from everything I’m getting, and it’s literally “all but official” all three will be going, but for now we are leaving them off of our confirmed invite list.
Longhorns Kheeston Randall and Keenan Robinson Invited to Senior Bowl
Mack Brown has stated that Texas DL Kheeston Randall and LB Keenan Robinson have received invitations to play in this year's incredibly stacked Under Armour Senior Bowl. This is a great year to be selected for inclusion. The NFL Network has bought rights to more than 20 hours of coverage, giving exposure to prospects like never before. It is undeniably evident that the annually increasing attention is drawing out more and more elite first-round candidates.
From the Senior Bowl website: "Senior Bowl practices are attended by over 800 general managers, head coaches, assistant coaches, scouts and other front office personnel from the 32 National Football League teams, making Mobile and the Senior Bowl the week-long host to a one-of-a-kind NFL Coaches Convention."
OL David Snow, LB Emmanuel Acho, S Blake Gideon, and RB Cody Johnson have all received invites to the East/West Shrine Game.