Monday, January 09, 2006

Fire Bradway

For a web site dedicated to baseball in general and the Yankees in specific, I’ve been doing a lot of rambling about football lately. I guess the playoffs are contagious.

Last week, I was ranting about the Jets letting Herm Edwards walk to the Chiefs for a measly fourth round draft pick. So I started thinking about it more, and I was hit with a revelation: there’s a guy who makes these decisions! Why don’t we start scrutinizing him?

Well, he has been scrutinized during just about every year of his Jets tenure, which began in January, 2001. He has conducted five amateur draft proceedings for the Jets, and while we all laud his selection of Jonathan Vilma in 2004, he has drafted only one Pro-Bowler – Santana Moss, and that was for the Redskins.

Speaking of the Redskins, it seems a while ago, but remember when they nabbed Lav Coles, Chad Morton, Randy Thomas, and John Hall right from under our noses? Remember when Bradway thought he had matched the ‘Skins offer sheet for Morton, only to lose out on him because he didn’t match the voidable years?

Remember him taking Bryan Thomas with the Jets first rounder in 2002, despite the presence of Shaun Ellis and John Abraham? I hate to nit-pick on hindsight, especially when it comes to the NFL draft. But seriously, look at who was still on the board when the Jets picked: Ed Reed, Napoleon Harris, Lito Sheppard. The most notable name there is Sheppard, since Bradway intended to pick a CB in the drat, but instead signed Donnie Abraham.

Let’s go over this once more, so it can sink in. Bradway needed a CB, but drafted a DE, a position at which the Jets already had two starters. Not only that, he passed up on a future Pro-Bowl CB in Sheppard, not to mention a solid LB in Harris and a future All-Pro in Reed. I’ll forgive the latter two on account of hindsight. But to need a CB and not draft Sheppard seems a shaky decision at best.

Since we’re on the draft, it’s only applicable to mention 2003, when we all remember Bradway exchanging the 13th and 22nd picks for the No. 4 pick in order to select Dewayne Robertson. Don’t get me wrong, I think Robertson is a fine defensive tackle. But he certainly hasn’t lived up to his hype as the next Warren Sapp, which was the whole reason for trading up. However, Bradway gets half a pass here, mainly because that draft was riddled with busts. But for effect, Troy Polamalu was around for the 13 pick (though it’s doubtful he would have had the foresight to draft Eric Steinbach, Rashaen Mathis, or E.J. Henderson with the 22nd pick).

And then we have the 2005 draft, in which the Jets didn’t have a first round selection. Why? Because Bradway thought that a backup TE was more important. Of course, I’m working on hindsight here, too, but why did the Jets feel the need to make that swap? They could have just drafted Heath Miller with that pick if they wanted a TE. Sure, it would have precluded them from taking Nugent, but I don’t think that’s all that important a pick. I won’t decry it like many Jets fans, since I think Nuge has a future in NY. But I’d also like Pennington to have a guy like Heath Miller to throw to.

I’ve already mentioned Bradway’s biggest off-season blunder, but he has plenty mini-blunders to help supplement his record. Like in the same year, when be brought in Curtis Conway to replace Coles. Do I even need to provide commentary on this one?

Or how about Pennington’s monster contract extension right before the opening of the 2004 season? Sure, New York was slowly falling in love with Chad, but Bradway forced the issue. He dedicated star quarterback cap space to a guy who had started just 23 games, sat out six games of the previous season, and accumulated a meager 63.6 passer rating in the games he did play (13 TDs, 12 INTs).

Because of that, the Jets can’t even think about taking a quarterback with the No. 4 pick in the 2006 draft, since too much of their cap is appropriate for QB already. Sure, they would be legally allowed to select Matt Leinart should he drop to four, but the cap implications of taking a QB with the fourth pick would be detrimental to the already cap-strapped Jets.

The cap is also impeding the team’s ability to sign John Abraham to a long-term contract. Remember how the Jets slapped Abe with the Franchise tag last winter, citing his injury as cause for concern? And remember how they just wanted him to get through a full season before inking him long term? Well, he’s had his healthy season, but I can’t see the Jets nailing him down. Once again, misappropriated cap dollars will lead to this inevitability.

So that means the Jets will, in all likelihood, slap the tag on Abraham once again, but this time will be more receptive to trade offers for him. Other teams, knowing the Jets situation, won’t be offering much. Who would blow a first rounder on a guy who will be tag-less come August? It would be a second rounder at best, and there is no argument in the world that can convince me that a a second round pick is equal to John Abraham.

But those are the kinds of decisions you force yourself to make when you can’t manage a salary cap. In fact, Bradway’s financial decisions have been so poor during his tenure that I’m convinced that Knicks GM Isaiah Thomas had a sit-down with Bradway before taking his job at MSG, where they discussed the merits of hurling money at problems.

This whole Herman fiasco has just been the nail that popped the pimple for Bradway. Why, when there are seven coaching vacancies, would you let your perfectly good coach walk for a mere fourth rounder? And to make matters worse, Bradway is probably going to make a dumb decision on the next coach, like bringing in Jim Haslett. Yes, because when you can hire a coach who has had considerable talent and no results during his tenure in New Orleans, you do it every time.

So really, other than drafting Vilma, Terry Bradway hasn’t done a whole lot of good as the Jets GM (and the Jets fans made that one a no-brainer for him). You could go as far as to say that if the Jets had more competent men making the personnel decisions, Herm may have flourished as a coach. A good GM would have looked around the league, seen the current crop of coaches, and realized that it’s slim pickins. Hence, he would have worked out some kind of extension for Herm, rather than get all pissy like a chick and let him walk.

Terry Bradway must be fired. Problem is, the Jets brass won’t come to this realization until after he screws up the 2006 off-season, which will be integral to any future success of the team. We’re about to revert back to late 80s/early 90s Jets, and it will be all Bradway’s fault.

Appendix
Terry Bradway’s first day selections as Jets GM:

2001: (1) Santana Moss – traded for a guy Bradway let walk
            (2)LaMont Jordan – let him walk
            (3) Kareem McKenzie – let him walk

2002: (1) Bryan Thomas – bust
            (2) Jon McGraw – traded for next to nothing
            (3) Chris Baker – whoa, an actual starter, though if he was starting in                           2005, why did Bradway trade for Doug Jolly?

2003: (1) Dwayne Robertson – not quite a bust, but no Warren Sapp
            (2) Victor Hobson – starter
            (3) B.J. Askew – may start next year, but clearly not a starter-caliber                          running back

2004: (1) Jonathan Vilma – we’ve been over this one. Bradway’s finest hour
            (2) Justin McCariens – okay, it wasn’t the pick, but this is who the Jets                         swapped their No. 2 for. Completely not worth it.
            (3) Derrick Strait – jury is still out, but we could find out soon, since he                     conceivably could be starting in 2006 (if Bradway is smart and cuts                       David Barrett)

2005: (1) Mike Nugent – traded our first rounder for a kicker
            (2) Justin Miller – will be starting in ’06, so we’ll get to see if he can                         overcome being a dick
            (3) Sione Pouha – team needed a NT to replace Jason Ferguson, got a                         guy who sucks. Smrt.

UPDATE: I was just sent this link, which is a much more detailed version of what I'm talking about. Though, the authors of this research report make a case against Edwards, and are probably happy with receiving just a fourth rounder for him.