Yardbarker Horiz

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Disrespected: Dominik Passed Over For Exec Of The Year

The biggest turnaround in team history.  The first team -- ever -- to win 10 games and start 10 rookies.  A Top 10 defense.  A Top 10 running game.  All this one season after going 3-13 as a rookie General Manager.  But you are *not* the Executive of the Year -- huh?

Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik has got to be asking himself, "What do you have to do to get some respect in this league?"

Well, I can answer that.  You need to start your career in the Northeast, preferably as close to ESPN or NBC headquarters as possible.  You need to be an assistant in a multiple-ring winning organization and "share" responsibilities with the Head Coach on personnel decisions.  Then you need to become GM of a franchise which (as of today) has not won a playoff game in 15 years.

Or, at least, these seem to be the things that mattered more, making Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli the NFL Executive of the Year for 2010.

Turning Around A Franchise Is . . . Not Important??

Among things which apparently do not matter:  Winning.  The Chiefs went 4-12 in 2009 and turned it around with a 10-6 campaign in 2010 (+6 in the win column, impressive).  A six game turnaround is a feat matches by only one other team in 2010: the Saint Louis Rams (1-15 to 7-9).

Yet there was one team which did better:  the Buccaneers, who went 3-13 in 2009 and also hit 10-6 in 2010 for a +7 in the win column.  Even more impressive.

But wait, that means Pioli has a 14-18 record, while Dominik has a 13-19 record, so winning really does matter, right?

Winning Against Playoff Teams While Rebuilding . . . Not Important??

In 2009, the Chiefs beat Washington (4-12), Oakland (5-11), Pittsburgh (9-7), and Denver (8-8).  Kansas City limped into the 2010 offseason winning 1 of their last 6 games.

That same season, the Buccaneers beat Seattle (5-11), Green Bay (11-5, playoffs), and the 2009 World Champion New Orleans Saints (13-3).   That's a combined "beaten opponents" win record for 2009 of 26-38 for Pioli, 29-19 for Dominik.  Tampa Bay went into the offseason posting two of their 3 wins in 2009 in their last 6 games (the final two games of the season).

Add in the fact of Dominik being in the NFC South, one of the strongest divisions in the NFL, while  Pioli is in the AFC West, one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, and which 10-win season is more impressive?

In 2010, the Chiefs beat one team with a winning record.  That was the Chargers (9-7 in 2010) in Week #1, 21-14.  Fourteen weeks later, the Chiefs lost at the Chargers 31-0 (Week #14).

In 2010, the Buccaneers also beat only one team with a winning record during the regular season:  the Defending World Champion Saints (11-5 in 2010; Dominik has yet to lose at the SuperDome) 23-13 in Week 17, on the road, avenging a 31-6 loss in Week #6.  Tampa Bay went into the offseason posting two of their 3 wins in 2009 in their last 6 games (the final two games of the season).

Perhaps somebody would argue winning is only about coaching?  Let's make a bad assumption and go with that theory -- even though it has been proven time and again talent plus coaching is what wins in the NFL.  So, for now, let's put the winning aside and look at talent.

A GM Should Be Able To Assemble A Solid Coaching Staff

Pioli has had one head coach, Todd Haley.  Pioli has also hired three offensive coordinators (and the position is currently vacant again) and two defensive coordinators.  After the 4-12 record of 2009, Pioli hired a former head coach in Romeo Crenell for defensive coordinator and a former Notre Dame head coach in Charlie Weis for offensive coordinator (Haley was offensive coordinator in 2009).  These additions played some part in generating the turnaround year of 2010, but are now in flux again.

Dominik has had one head coach as well, Raheem Morris.  Dominik has had two offensive coordinators (the first fired before the 2009 season even started) and two defensive coordinators (Morris took over as defensive coordinator midway through the 2009 season).  These changes carried over to create the turnaround year of 2010 and appear to be staying in place.

A GM Should Be Able To Recognize Talent -- Wherever It Can Be Found

Pioli signed Matt Cassel in 2009 from New England to build his team around.  Matt Cassel finished 2010 with a passer rating of 93.0, 27 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions.  Pioli went with a player he knew from his time in New England.

Dominik drafted Josh Freeman with his very first pick in the NFL Draft as GM.  Freeman finished 2010 with a passer rating of 95.9, 25 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions.  Dominik rolled the dice with a young man whom his rookie Head Coach had known from previous work.

Pioli has made 15 draft choices, of which 12 are still on his roster.

Dominik has made 13 draft choices, of which 11 are still on his roster.  One player of interest here is DE Alex Magee, Pioli's 2nd ever draft choice (3rd Round 2009) whom Dominik traded for in 2010.  In addition to Magee, Dominik snared an additional 6th round pick from Kansas City in the 2011 NFL Draft (KC also received a draft choice in the trade, but it's value is undisclosed).  Magee saw limited time this season as he transitioned from the Kansas City 3-4 to the Tampa Bay 4-3 defensive system so the value of this swap is hard to grade at this time.

Finally, how does the Eye for Talent of these men compare when picking from the same talent pool?  Through the time at training camp, teams trim their rosters from 80 players to 53, producing a hugh pool of available talent which creates a feeding frenzy just before the season begins.  How did these men handle the flood this season?

After training camp roster cuts in 2010, Pioli assembled the following practice squad:
  • Ricky Price, promoted to regular roster, appeared in 7 games
  • Tyler Palko, promoted to regular roster, appeared in 2 games
  • Quinten Lawrence (2009 Draft Pick), promoted to regular roster, no stats
  • Verran Tucker, promoted to regular roster, no stats
  • Robert Greenwood, on practice squad for the season, now on a Chiefs futures contract
  • Pierre Walters, on practice squad for the season, now on a Chiefs futures contract
  • Darryl Harris, on practice squad for the season, now on a Chiefs futures contract
  • Dion Gales, cut during the 2010 season

Pioli also signed the following waived players:

  • Anthony Toribio, who appeared in 5 games

That's a total of 5 Regular Roster players generating 14 game appearances (no starts) and three futures contracts for additional development for Pioli's 10-win team.  Not bad at all.

After training camp roster cuts in 2010, Dominik assembled the following practice squad:

  • Ryan Purvis, promoted to regular roster, appeared in 10 games with 2 starts
  • Derek Hardman, promoted to regular roster, appeared in 9 games with 1 start
  • Will Barker, promoted to regular roster, appeared in 3 games
  • Dezmon Briscoe, promoted to regular roster, appeared in 2 games
  • George Johnson, promoted to regular roster, no stats
  • Vince Anderson, on practice squad for the season, now on a Buccaneers futures contract
  • Brent Bowden (2010 Draft Pick), cut during the 2010 season
  • Lee Robinson, cut during the 2010 season


Dominik also signed the following waived players:
  • Kregg Lumpkin, who appeared in 11 games
  • Ted Larsen, who appeared in 12 games with 11 starts
  • LeGarrette Blount, who appeared in 13 games with 7 starts, running for 1,000 yards in 2010
That's a total of 8 Regular Roster players generating 60 game appearances (with 32 starts) and one futures contract for additional development for Dominik's 10-win team.  Incredible.


This has to be the most frustrating part of the equation for Dominik.  You would be hard pressed to find numbers like these for any GM in the past 15 years (a 1,000 yard rusher off the undrafted waiver wire?  Are you kidding?).

It seems the differences between these General Managers is obvious:  Dominik will roll the dice based on his experience; Pioli plays it close to the chest and conservatively.

Of course, Dominik has been in Tampa for more than a decade.  He understands how the Northeast drives the league, and Pioli was tapped into the mainstream Northeast media for years before heading to the middle of the country.

I understand the familiarity.  I just don't understand the blindness.

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