The Top Five NFL Front-Office Blunders of 2008
The 2008 NFL season was one of the most memorable—starting with the Brett Favre saga and ending with one of the most exciting Super Bowls in NFL history.
But just as in every NFL season, some franchises seemed to take big steps forward while others took big steps backward. So, I thought it would be fun to revisit some of the biggest front-office blunders of the 2008 season:
No. 5: The Cowboys Trade for Pac-Man Jones
I’m all about giving a guy a second chance, so I didn’t fault Jerry Jones for extending an offer to the Titans for Pac-Man. And this ranks No. 5 on the blunder list because the terms of the trade included performance clauses that Jones never met — reducing the price of the trade to a fourth-round pick in the upcoming 2009 draft.
However, the trade — and subsequent aftermath — only exacerbated the troubled image that the Cowboys have projected over the last few years and made owner Jerry Jones appear more out-of-touch — and less in control — than ever.
No. 4: The Raiders Enter 2008 Season with Lane Kiffin
This one got ugly real quick, but it started long before the start of the 2008 season. The whole thing played itself out on ESPN, embarrassing — in turn — Kiffin, Al Davis and Raider Nation.
Davis went on television calling Kiffin an insubordinate bum and Kiffin called Davis a nutcase and a liar. And no matter who you believe — and I tend to think this whole organization is a bag of mixed nuts, so who cares — this situation should have been resolved one way or another before the 2008 offseason.
No. 3: The Lions Fire Matt Millen — In September
Matt Millen had done such a great job in seven subsequent drafts, that the Lions gave him one more — just for fun.
Apparently, ownership decided long before the 2008 offseason — and long after every other person on the planet — that they had to go in a new direction. So, as a parting gift, they decided to give Millen one more offseason to destroy their franchise. They fired Millen in September after an 0-3 start. I guess they wanted to “make sure.”
This ranks high up there on the list of personnel blunders because Millen should have been fired years ago, and every year that he wasn’t fired snow-balled this blunder into what it became in 2008.
No. 2: The Broncos Fire Mike Shanahan
This one is a bit of a prediction because, well, the returns are not in yet, but I think history will reflect that this move was based purely on emotion and made no football sense at all.
Mike Shanahan was once considered one the “offensive gurus” in the league, capable of transforming a mediocre offense into a zone-blocking juggernaut that any back would love to run behind.
Apparently, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen decided that there was little magic left in this genie's bottle, and canned Shanahan at the conclusion of the 2008 campaign.
Problem is, the Broncos' defense in 2008 was one of the worst units in the league, giving up a whopping 375 yards of total offense per game.
No. 1: The Jets Release Chad Pennington
The Jets were all too happy to release Chad Pennington once they knew they had Brett Favre in the fold, and Pennington then signed with division rival — and subsequent division champion — Miami Dolphins.
A little-known fact that you certainly wouldn’t have found in many of the New York tabloids is that Chad Pennington is one of the most accurate quarterbacks — if not the most accurate QB — in the history of the NFL with a 66 percent completion percentage and a career QB rating of 90.6. (Note: Brett Favre’s career completion percentage is 61 percent.)
What’s worse? The Jets are going to continue to pay for this blunder next year, as you can expect the Dolphins' offense to progress with Pennington coming into his second year with the team, while the Jets will have a new quarterback under center.