Plus, Jerry Jones and his 1-6 Cowboys -- soon to be 1-7.
The dysfunctional half-dozen never changes much -- the Cowboys and Redskins are usually there, and the Vikings have joined them because Childress is so desperate to win a Super Bowl that he'll do anything, like trade for and release Moss. In most every case, the ultimate blame lies with the person playing the most critical position: owner. Although Oakland, with an owner who's coached the team for four decades, seems to have found some sort of mojo this season.
The Most Dysfunctional Franchises
1. Washington: How many reasons have we heard since Sunday for McNabb's benching? Six? Seven? Eight? Mental reasons, cardiovascular reasons, hamstring reasons, you name it. (And, of course, T.O. chimed in on Wednesday with his tale of woe from the 2005 Super Bowl.) But this has to do with Dan Snyder as much as it has to do with Mike and Kyle Shanahan or McNabb.
Things never change in Washington, where Snyder collects stars who either are on the decline (McNabb) or just happy to take his money and (not) run, like Albert Haynesworth. Even Rex Grossman is a "name" player, to some extent.
He collects "star'' coaches, like Shanahan (and son). But he doesn't really believe in draft choices because he wants to "win now." So the offensive line is, at best, mediocre, and when the Skins have picks, someone blows them on the likes of Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas. That makes McNabb's deep threat 56-year-old Joey Galloway.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
2. Dallas: Jerry Jones' first choice when he was looking for a coach early in 2007 was Norv Turner. His second was Wade Phillips. Both were competent career coordinators with pleasant personalities who (surprise!) would let the owner-president-general manager stand in for the coach at media events. Turner turned down Jones, so he got Phillips.
That result is one reason the Cowboys are 1-6 now. Another is that Jones, like Snyder, reaches for ''names,'' especially Texas names like Roy Williams. Williams actually has five TD catches, but is a luxury on a team that has Miles Austin and drafted Dez Bryant. And, of course, he's a career loser.
Two problems: .
1. Desperation, a common theme: This was the year the Cowboys had to win because the Super Bowl is being played in their stadium.
2. Talent: There's not as much as there was alleged to be. The offensive is over aged and underachieving (Andre Gurode and Leonard Davis, to name two) and Tony Romo has Brett Favre's flair but lacks his ability to make big plays in crunch time.
Yes, the Cowboys had 13 Pro Bowlers last year. That says more about the silliness of Pro Bowl selection than it does about the Cowboys' "talent.''
A mea culpa: early in the season, I had Wade at No. 6 among the NFL's top coaches because he had kept his sanity in the face of chaos. And Tom Coughlin at 27. Demonstrates both how quickly the NFL changes and we make silly snap judgments.
3. Minnesota: A consistently good franchise in the free-agent era, because it's done what most organizations hope for: competed for a playoff spot most seasons. It's been that way since 1983, when Les Steckel (Less Steckel!!) almost wrecked the joint in one season as Bud Grant's successor and Grant had to unretire to fix the mess.
But Brad Childress and owner Zygi Wilf have messed that up with their desperation to win a Super Bowl. And by thinking they could only do it with Favre. (Actually, they blew their chance in 1998, but that's another story involving Denny Green, Gary Anderson and ... never mind.)
So after squandering their chance last season when the coaching staff screwed up the substitutions, then Favre threw an interception in New Orleans that kept them from the Super Bowl, they got really desperate.
First Ryan Longwell, Jared Allen and Steve Hutchinson flew to Mississippi to drag Brett back and his bad (broken) ankle back for his (last?) season. But magic rarely recurs -- Sidney Rice was hurt early and Visanthe Shiancoe was the only preferred receiver left for Favre, especially with Percy Harvin's migraine and injury problems.
Desperation led to the Moss trade, which led to what they should have known: Randy can be disruptive.
Favre, meanwhile, is more interested in prolonging his consecutive-starts streak than winning a Super Bowl. And age is setting in on both the offensive and defensive lines -- a unit that had a league 48 sacks a year ago has six in seven games, tied for last in the league.
These guys have a strong personnel department led by Rob Brzezinski and Rick Spielman, who drafted Harvin and signed Shiancoe as a free agent after he showed little as Jeremy Shockey's backup in the Meadowlands. Favre and Moss have disrupted the long-term plan.
4. Buffalo: Ralph Wilson is a wonderful man, but at age 92 ... well, you can understand why he's not running the team on a daily basis. Russ Brandon and Buddy Nix are, and they're presiding over what's been a mess in the front office for a while. Ask Trent Edwards. He was designated the starting quarterback in preseason and was gone by Week 4, exulting when he arrived in Jacksonville.
An aside: Wilson couldn't sustain the model started in the mid-1980s by Bill Polian, aided by the late John Butler and A.J. Smith (see San Diego, below). Marv Levy helped when he came in, but ...
5. San Francisco: When Eddie DeBartolo owned the team and Bill Walsh ran it, the 49ers won five Super Bowls in 16 seasons. When DeBartolo was suspended by the NFL and his brother-in-law, John York, took over, it won for a few years on residual talent, then plummeted to the bottom, easing out Walsh. Now it's Eddie's nephew, Jed York. The current problems trace to the decision in 2005 to use the first pick on Alex Smith instead of Aaron Rodgers.
6. San Diego: Like Jones, GM A.J. Smith wants total control. So, he fired Marty Schottenheimer and, like Jones, hired a coordinator as coach. Smith knows talent, which is why the Chargers have so much. But he was better when he worked for Polian and didn't hire coaches or do contracts. Actually, not signing Vincent Jackson didn't hurt as much as people thought, although going without Marcus McNeill for a third of the season didn't help. Smith may have bargained on the weak division to help him, but Kansas City imported all those guys from New England and is becoming a good team. And the Raiders, who used to be regulars on this list, are actually half-decent now. (Emphasis on the "half.'')
The Most Functional Franchises
1. Pittsburgh: Three coaches since 1969. And six Super Bowl victories. It's not a coincidence that Dan Rooney, son of Art Rooney, "the Chief," became the day-to-day GM in the late '60s. Now he's turned over operations to his son Art, who has the same knowledge and calm attributes. (Dan Rooney, after whom the "Rooney Rule'' is named, also practices what he preaches -- hiring a young, unknown Mike Tomlin to succeed Bill Cowher, also proving that you don't need "names'' to win.).
Yes, there's luck involved. If the Giants had been unable to wrangle the deal that got them Eli Manning, they would have taken Ben Roethlisberger (not Philip Rivers, who the Chargers wanted) and the Steelers still might be looking for a QB. But the Rooneys would have found one.
2. New England: Robert Kraft made his money in the paper business. He knew nothing about paper, so he hired the best paper people and got out of the way. He was a lifelong Patriots fan when he bought the team (just as Snyder was a lifelong Redskins fan). Kraft, unlike Snyder, did the same thing with his football team as he did with his paper company: he hired the best football people and got out of the way.
Whatever you think of Bill Belichick, he's the best football person (although other very good football guys called Kraft in 2000 and asked him: "why did you hire that guy?").
3. Indianapolis: A team that stunk at owner when Robert Irsay was around. His son Jimmy learned from his father's mistakes and hired Bill Polian. If Belichick's not the best football guy around, then Polian is. Make it a tie. Why is there a Jacob Tamme to replace a Dallas Clark? Because Polian drafted him to be there.
OK, the Colts had the first pick in 1998 and took Peyton Manning, who is the offensive coordinator as well as the QB. But Polian took Manning when a lot of folks were whispering "Ryan Leaf.".
4. Philadelphia: Eagles owner Jeff Lurie and Kraft are good friends. Lurie actually set the example when, in 1999, he hired Andy Reid, who had no track record (compared to Belichick's negative one).
Reid isn't loved by Philadelphia fans because he's never won a Super Bowl. But he's also 122-78-1 as a coach, which any team would take, and the Eagles never rebuild -- they retool, as they're doing now, because Reid knows how to dump stars a year too early rather than a year too late.
As in ...
Do you think Reid knew that McNabb wasn't what he used to be? He knew enough that he wasn't afraid to trade him to a team in his own division.
5. Baltimore: When was the last time the Ravens didn't contend? Steve Bisciotti, who took over in 2004 from Art Modell, worked with Modell before that. He knew that the best route to success was to keep on Ozzie Newsome to run the football operation. He and Newsome also knew that Brian Billick, a Super Bowl-winning coach, had hit a wall. So they went to the winning Harbaugh family for John, who had been no more than a special teams coach in Philly. (Jason Garrett, also from a coaching family, was in the mix. It's unclear who turned who down.)
Yes, Ray Lewis has endured beyond his expiration date. But most teams would not have drafted Joe Flacco as high as the Ravens did, nor held out until Arizona met the asking price for Anquan Boldin. Simply a team that knows what it's doing.
6. New York Giants: On a 30-year run that started when George Young was hired as GM in 1979. Young hired both Ernie Accorsi and (as a scout) Jerry Reese. The scouting department may be the deepest in the NFL, upgrading even when the team is winning.
Latest example: the Giants got Darius Reynaud as a throw-in when they acquired backup QB Sage Rosenfels from the Vikings. Reynaud hasn't worked out very well as a return man, so they signed Will Blackmon, who was one of the best in Green Bay until he was hurt. Blackmon hasn't played yet, but he's an example of how the Giants try to improve even on special teams.
Look at the 30 years and you see three Super Bowl victories, another Super Bowl appearance and playoff runs in most seasons. And just six coaches, two in the last 14 seasons. Only one of them, Ray Handley, didn't work out -- and he was a desperation hire after Bill Parcells "retired'' for the first time after the 1991 hiring season was over, and Coughlin and Belichick already were gone from the Super Bowl-winning '90 staff.
A look back at the top plays from Week 8: