A former NFL coach says the Browns applied “addition by subtraction” in trading Kellen Winslow Jr., and predicts Buffalo will be sorry it said hello to T.O.
What happens when an NFL team in a win-now culture goes an entire decade without a single playoff appearance?
In Buffalo, T.O. happened.
The Bills intend for Terrell Owens to get them over the hump. More likely, the bolt-out-of-the-blue signing will become a self-inflicted kick in the rump.
Owens won’t necessarily tear the Bills apart -- no one who doesn’t play Jay Cutler’s position is that big. But Owens’ tired brand of egomania is sure to make half the roster grumble quietly and destructively.
For a franchise that has struggled to achieve mediocrity since last winning a division title in 1995, a 35-year-old superstar with an attitude isn’t the answer. He’s a cross-eyed question.
Owens was a no-show as Buffalo’s voluntary offseason team conditioning began.
Former NFL head coach Sam Rutigliano colorfully captured America’s response when he said: “It’s the first time he has a chance to do anything with his new team, and he isn’t there? What the hell is that?”
Rutigliano remains an astute judge of chemistry and character. His view has it that one clown can bring down the circus.
He cites Owens’ three seasons with America’s team, in which Dallas was presumed to be playoff material but lacked the simple substance of a single playoff win.
Not even Jerry Jones, America’s egomaniac, could take it any more.
“I know and you know that the players can’t say it,” Rutigliano said. “But I know and you know those players are glad T.O. is gone.”
Rutigliano said it is the same in Cleveland with Kellen Winslow Jr., a mega-talent with a milder case of me-first disorder.
“What a shame,” Rutigliano said of Winslow’s demise with the Browns. “They invest such a high draft pick, and they have a guy who is a better talent even than his Hall of Fame father, but it doesn’t work out.”
It didn’t work out, he suggested, because Winslow put himself above the team.
Rutigliano called trading Winslow to Tampa bay “addition by subtraction.”
For what it’s worth -- and skipping some of the long explanations -- Cleveland’s records since drafting Winslow have been 4-12, 6-10, 4-12, 10-6 and 4-12.
Owens’ career has been longer and relatively more glorious but ultimately just as disappointing.
The 49ers were 3-5 in the postseason during his eight seasons with them.
Philadelphia was a perennial NFC finalist when he jumped to the Eagles in 2004. They reached the Super Bowl in his first year but did so without him as he watched the last two regular-season games and the NFC playoffs from the sideline because of injury.
The next season, he was one of the reasons they broke backward to 6-10.
Bill Parcells was in his fourth year with the Cowboys when Jones signed Owens in 2006. You aren’t alone if you think T.O. is a big reason ‘06 was Parcells’ last as a head coach.
Since then, the Cowboys have been bluster without beef, ultimately concluding Owens needed to take a hike.
Their gain. Buffalo’s loss.
Bills of ‘Fair’
Buffalo’s last playoff game was a 22-16 loss at Tennessee in the 1999 season. The Bills’ last playoff win was 37-22 over Miami in the 1995 season.
Obviously, this isn’t helping the city’s hope to avoid losing the team to Toronto. Perhaps it makes the gamble on Owens more justifiable.
The Bills can’t flirt with .500 forever and hope to keep a potent-but-limited fan base energized.
Buffalo has gone 7-9 three years in a row under Dick Jauron and has done as well as 9-7 just once this decade. Many observers think the Bills have been in denial over the consensus view that Trent Edwards is no better than an adequate starting quarterback.
One for the money
Pardon the Lions for their trepidation over reaching for Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford with the first draft pick.
A quick look at quarterbacks taken with the top pick in the last 10 drafts:
- 1999, Tim Couch ... threw his last NFL pass Dec. 28, 2003.
- 2001, Michael Vick ... landed in the slammer.
- 2002, David Carr, 2002 ... 23-56 as an NFL starter.
- 2003, Carson Palmer ... has never been the same since the injury in the 2005 playoffs.
- 2004, Eli Manning ... hard to knock a Super Bowl champion.
- 2005, Alex Smith ... 11-19 for the 49ers.
- 2007, JaMarcus Russel ... Got hot in December, looked lost previously.
Only Manning would be a candidate to be picked all over again at No. 1 – but not a cinch. Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger were all drafted in ‘04.
The disappointing career arcs of Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow Jr. and Vernon Davis have made some GMs skittish about drafting a tight end too high.
Shockey was a No. 14 overall pick, while Winslow and Davis went at No. 6 within the last seven drafts.
Davis gave the 49ers fourth-round numbers, 31 catches in 16 starts, as a third-year pro.
Analyst Pat Kirwan doesn’t include a tight end in his first-round mock draft. His NFL.com buddy Mike Mayock, on the other hand, rates Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew as the seventh-best player in the draft.
- Aaron Curry is telling anyone who will listen that he is worth picking at No. 1 overall. If the linebacker drops to No. 5 or lower, as elite linebackers often do, contract negotiations could become a problem.
- Analyst Mike Mayock suggests many are undervaluing Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers. He is Mayock’s No. 5 player in the draft. Mayock’s No. 6 is another surprise, Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno. Mayock has Moreno substantially ahead of Ohio State’s Chris “Beanie” Wells.
- Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says expanding the NFL season to more than 16 games would create a shorter preseason and less time to develop young players. A quote you won’t see: “I am willing to take a pay cut, Mr. Rooney, to prevent this travesty.”