Monthly Archives: December 2016

Rams Can Only Go Up From Here

A listless 42-14 thrashing at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons was the nail in the coffin for the Los Angeles Rams to finally fire Head Coach Jeff Fisher.  A 31-45-1 record with 5 losing seasons was enough (2012-2016) 7-8-1, 7-9, 6-10, 7-9, and 4-9. Fisher finished his NFL head coaching career at 173-165 just one loss from breaking Dan Reeves record for most losses in NFL history. In 22 seasons at the helm, Fisher had only 6 winning seasons. I viewed Fisher as a solid coach in Houston/Tennessee during his 17 years there. Jumping into the Rams job with just 1 year off may not have been the best choice. Fisher seemed out of gas at the end in Tennessee. The tenure with the Rams was an unmitigated disaster that went on far too long. Fisher should have never made the trip out west with the Rams organization. Owner Stan Kroenke was too loyal to Fisher.  The million dollar question is why?

The first year back in Los Angeles hasn’t gone as planned for the Rams. With QB’s Case Keenum and first-overall-pick Jared Goff leading the charge, the Rams average a league worst’s in 286.2 yards per game and 14.9 points-per-game. Rams QB’s have combined for the 2nd worst passer rating at 73.3, 3rd most INT at 16.

Running back Todd Gurley in 13 games last season rushed for 1,106 yards, a 4.8 ypc, and 10 TD on 229 carries. In 13 games this year Gurley has rushed 227 times for 740 yards and 5 TD. Gurley hasn’t regressed as a player, the Rams offense around Gurley has regressed significantly. WR Kenny Britt has responded with a career high 63 catches for 937 yards. High draft choices spent on wide receivers Tavon Austin and Brain Quick haven’t panned out. The Rams offensive line is serviceable enough to have won more games with better talent at the skill positions.  Offensively have scored 20 touchdowns this season one more than the Brock Osweiler led Texans.

The Rams defensive numbers are skewed a bit due to the offensive ineptitude. The Rams defense in my opinion is good enough to make the playoffs with an average NFL offense.  The defensive unit has solid core players to build around in Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, Alec Ogletree, and TJ McDonald.

Since offense is the major problem in Los Angeles, I would gear more towards an offensive minded coach. A coach to develop Jared Goff should be the first priority.  LA is a major media market and the ability to handle the spotlight is another critical factor with this job more so than others. I wouldn’t go after a defensive minded coach with the current stage the organization sits.

Stanford Head Coach David Shaw fits the bill, but doesn’t have NFL head coaching experience. Shaw has NFL coaching experience with the Eagles, Raiders, and Ravens. His NFL positions ranged from Quality Control coach, to Quarterback and Wide Receiver coach.

New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels was the Rams OC in 2011 after a failed stint as the Broncos head coach. McDaniels is a hot commodity and can be very selective in his coaching endeavors. Has McHoodie learned enough from the failure of being a head coach to do it better the 2nd time around? It will cost a lot of money to find out.  Maybe McDaniels never leaves and waits for Belichick to hang it up.

Falcons OC Kyle Shanahan is also linked to Head Coaching openings. Shanahan has worked in the NFL since 2004 and as an offensive coordinator since 2008.  Shanahan has worked as offensive coordinator in Houston, Washington, Cleveland, and Atlanta.  The experience in Houston and Washington was for Gary Kubiak, and his father Mike Shanahan. Kyle was in charge of running the offense in Cleveland and Atlanta. Shanahan will be a head coach some day, but I’d rather see more success as an OC before giving him a Head Coaching job.

Tom Coughlin’s overall track record speaks for itself as a possible hall of fame worthy coach. At age 70 I’d go in another direction since Coughlin’s teams failed down the stretch in recent years. Coughlin should remain in the league office.

University of Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh is often linked to NFL openings despite leaving the league to coach his alma mater. An eventual return to the NFL for Harbaugh is expected, but would he spurn Michigan after just 2 years? X’s and O’s Harbaugh is a terrific coach and also has the personality to deal with the spotlight. He also brings credibility to Rams. I believe his personality leads to a shorter tenure on the job. His act carries more weight in college; NFL guys can tune him out.

Jon Gruden is linked to job openings every year, but this could be the one to pull him out of the Monday Night Football Booth and back down to the sideline.  Gruden hasn’t coached since the 2008 season and holds an overall NFL record of 95-81. Gruden won a Super Bowl in 2002 against the team he built in the Raiders. This hiring would provide instant credibility and star power. Gruden would be a great fit to tutor Goff. The defense is in place the offense is the problem, but could be put in the hands of one of his former pupils that is expected to be fired soon.

Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley is coaching out the string and could rehab his career as the defensive coordinator in Los Angeles.   Bradley could also bring along a few assistant coaches in Nathaniel Hackett, Ron Middleton, and Monte Kiffin to fill out Gruden’s coaching staff.  All of these coaches worked under Gruden previously.

Does GM Les Snead remain to fix this mess or get shown the door as well? Did Fisher have more power than Snead in running the Rams?  I find it hard to believe a big name coach would come in to work under Snead.  A big name coach is going to want his own personnel director. Kroenke has the money to pay for the Head Coach he wants. As owner of the Rams I’d send Snead packing, then go after Gruden, McDaniels, and Shaw.

White Sox Should Sell This Offseason

The Chicago White Sox are one of the most interesting clubs this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 78-4 finish, which featured a 17-8 start in April, the White Sox are a club at a crossroads. The club added new Manager Rick Renteria to replace Robin Ventura. The club could try to piece to their core of veterans to contend for 2017. The better option in my opinion is to blow up this whole roster and acquire as many assets as possible. Starting Pitcher Chris Sale has been linked to the Nationals, Astros, and Braves. A perennial Cy Young candidate should be able to bring in major league ready players in return. It takes two to tango however, as we shall see if clubs are willing to give up their top prospects. Whether the Sox could get Trea Turner, Lucas Giolito, Alex Bregman, or Dansby Swanson remains to be seen. GM Rick Hahn should be holding out for a franchise building block in return in any package. The time may come later this winter where lower level prospects with upside may be the route the acquiring clubs would be willing to go.

The White Sox are a viable option because they have assets to move as this is weak free agent class in 2017.  Take into account some of the contracts already signed this winter and compare those to players available in a trade.  Rich Hill signed a 3-year-deal worth $48 million dollars. The soon to be 37-year-old southpaw has 610.1 career innings and is getting paid for finding the fountain of youth.  While Sale is soon to be 28 and has 3-years of team control at $38 million dollars.  Sale has also finished in the Top 6 in AL Cy Young voting each season since 2012.  Which player is the better value?

Other players in Chicago could fetch solid returns in trade due to age and team control. None of these players are in the twilight of their careers.   Closer David Robertson has 2 years and 25 million dollars left on his deal. Clubs that don’t want to spend on Chapman, Jansen, and Melancon could pursue Robertson, who turns 32 next season.  Melancon signed a 4-years $62 million dollar deal with the Giants. Roberston is nearly the same age as Melancon on a shorter deal.  SP Jose Quintana has 4-years and $37.85 million dollars remaining on his deal. Quintana is a soon to be 28-year-old middle of rotation arm with a career ERA of 3.41 and 1.242 WHIP.  3B Todd Frazier has 2 years of arbitration eligibility left and is coming off a year with a career high in HR (40) and RBI (98). Frazier will turn 31 this offseason.  Right Fielder Adam Eaton has back to back seasons of a plus .280 avg and .360 OBP. A 28-year-old leadoff hitter under team control of 5-years for $38.4 million dollars could be attractive to clubs. Eaton is a terrific defensive right fielder, not so much in center field. At $15 million on the last year of his deal, Melky Cabrera should still retain value at his age 32 campaign.  Cabrera may be an add on in one of the blockbuster deals. An outfielder with a career .286 avg and .337 OBP should retain value.

Rebuilding and contending at the same time is tough to do in sports. The White Sox farm   system may have some talent that helps down the road in RHP Carson Fulmer, RHP Spencer Adams, C Zach Collins, RHP Zack Burdi, 3B Trey Michalczewski, and RHP Alec Hanson. GM Rick Hahn has to opportunity to acquire assets to help the White Sox get younger and possibly better.  I believe if the White Sox don’t take advantage of this weak free agent class and selloff, it will set the club back longer. After years of trying to contend and failing, its time for the White Sox to go in another direction.