Bruce Allen just finished up his “State of the Crumbling Union” speech. He appeared to be the only one that didn’t realize it was crumbling. He gave very little information other than the breaking news that Hawaii now has telephones.
One year ago, he got the title, the authority, the autonomy, and a boatload of cap space. Most importantly to many around town and in the organization, he was able to rid himself of Mike Shanahan. After distancing himself from the disastrous 3-13 ugliness of a year ago and putting most of it on Mike, he bathed himself in the freedom of an unshackled organization.
How’d that work out for him? 4 and 12. And let’s be honest. This year’s 4 and 12 was much worse than last year. They had a much easier schedule facing a parade of lower-tier quarterbacks like Fitzpatrick, Henne, Whitehurst, McCown, and Hill. They had cap room for the first time and a supposed franchise quarterback who was finally healthy and coming off his first full offseason of work.
Bottom line, the season stunk and it started with an unshackled but very unimpressive 2014 offseason.
Let’s do some grading.
1. Allen’s first move was the new coach. He hired Jay Gruden.
Comments: There’s a chance Gruden is in over his skis but it’s not totally clear at this point. What is clear is that his team got worse as the year went on. It’s also clear that his team was undisciplined much of the time. Additionally, his quarterbacks regressed and his team rarely seemed to have answers before, during, or after the games. Other than that, we don’t really know much.
2. Allen’s 2nd move was the decision to unchain Jim Haslett.
Comments: Even though he attempted to give Haz some help with 2 free agent acquisitions and some defensive draft picks, Haz has never been able to get more out of less. The best coaches find ways with good teaching and scheme to get something out of nothing. Haz never did. Finally, the team realized it and parted ways with him this morning.
3. DeSean Jackson.
Comments: Wide receiver wasn’t on the list but pouncing on the unexpected availability of Jackson worked out. It was a gamble but they got him on the relative cheap and he performed at a high level. You could argue the team would have been 1-15 without him.
4. Brian Orakpo franchised.
Comments: The only good thing that keeps this decision from being an F is that it was much better than signing him to a long-term deal which is what Haslett probably preferred. Bottom line, a 1/2 of a sack in six games and then hurt….again. Orakpo isn’t a franchise player. Hopefully, Allen now understands this to be true.
5. D’Angelo Hall re-signed.
Comments: This was the right move given the limited secondary talent on the roster. It’s too bad D-Hall got hurt because he would’ve helped.
6. Chris Baker re-signed to a 3-year deal.
Comments: The injury to Cofield forced him to play more nose tackle than they had hoped but his overall impact at any position along the defensive front was less than average.
7. Jason Hatcher.
Comments: The team’s biggest free agent acquisition was hurt more than healthy but when he was healthy, he was inconsistent. The Jacksonville game was a major tease. He never played anywhere near that level the remainder of the year. It would help if he were surrounded with better players.
8. Shawn Lauvao.
Comments: Individual offensive line performance play is perhaps the most difficult to evaluate but it certainly seemed that Lauvao’s first year fell far short of the 4-year $17 million dollar deal he got.
9. Ryan Clark.
Comments: He was obviously well past his point of usefulness, hence the reason the Steelers weren’t interested in bringing him back.
10. Andre Roberts.
Comments: We found out recently that the acquisition of Roberts was really pushed by Robert Griffin. Bad choice. Roberts was brought in to be a #2 and yet he wasn’t much of a #3. He dropped at least one pass per game and gave the team very little as a returner after the preseason.
11. Colt McCoy.
Comments: They brought him in to be the 3rd-string QB and he led the team to two of its four wins including the stunning upset in Dallas. That’s worthy of a B-grade. It’s not worthy of thinking he could be a full-time starter.
12. Tracy Porter.
Comments: This didn’t cost much but they took a chance on an injury-prone player who remained injury-prone. They shouldn’t have been surprised.
13. The Draft.
Comments: Breeland looks like a potential star at corner. Murphy is a run-stopper at this point….not much of a pass rusher. Grant never really got a chance. Same with Moses and Long. It’s far too early to grade a draft after one season but this one doesn’t appear to be anything special at this point.
14. The offseason included several acquisitions (Hayward, Sharpton, Jordan, McGlynn) that intended to upgrade special teams and position depth.
Comments: Bad special teams and no depth anywhere. Add to that, they let Sharpton go and he landed in Chicago as a contributor.
15. Undrafted players like Tress Way andSilas Redd.
Comments: Way was very good and Redd will be a factor in the future.
Overall, armed with huge cap space and all but a first-round draft pick, Bruce Allen’s first unshackled offseason GPA was a 1.69 with 2 Incompletes. He’s on academic probation.