Don Banks is typically pretty good, but his most recent article is an example of a "journalist" writing a story and making selective facts fit within its confines rather than looking at the facts and then writing the story. Banks' recent work makes the statement that the struggles for Seattle, Indianapolis, and Dallas are the result of the owners of those teams naming successors to the current head coaches. Banks interviews two anonymous NFL general mangers, and they give their opinions on how naming a successor to a current head coach could result in losing. Here is Banks quoting an unnamed AFC general manager on the subject:
"In any organization, in- or outside of football, where there's a lack of the true lines of authority, it's going to be a problem. Even if it's a situation in the NFL where there's a team that has a coach and a general manager, without either one of them truly being in charge of the decision-making. The players need to know that the line of authority is clean and clear.''
However, what Banks and this moron AFC General Manager (I'm assuming Phil Savage of the Browns) leave out of the equation are all the other variables that come into play here, namely injuries. I'll go team-by-team here, but if you want a clear, accurate reason why Seattle, Dallas, and Indy are not leading their respective divisions the answer is injuries.
Now, that answer is not an "NFL correct" answer. Injuries are never supposed to be an excuse for losing. For players and coaches, they aren't and can't be. But when you step back and look at the big picture, logic (and basic common friggin sense) says that Seattle losing their entire WR corps and their starting QB to injury might have a bit more to do with their 2-6 record than the status of Mike Holmgren and his designated successor, assistant coach Jim Mora Jr. Sadly, writing an article about that is not as sexy as one suggesting naming successors is the reason these teams have disappointed of late.
Crap articles like this reinforce my feeling that sports journalism is dead; that informing fans about the sport is less important than writing a "sexy" story full of unsupported facts and bad, BAD logic. If you really want to know why Seattle, Dallas, and Indy are struggling, here is why:
Since Week One their WR corps has been decimated. Deion Branch has been out most of the year with a foot injury, and Bobby Engram was lost back in August. Add to this the injury to QB Matt Hasselback (which has kept him out for many weeks), and you have a recipe for disaster that most clubs cannot recover from. Compounding the issue is the injury to DE Patrick Kerney, who is Seattle's sack master. Kerney is out indefinitely. So, to put this into terms many can understand, imagine the Giants losing Osi Umenyiora (which they did), but also Eli Manning and his entire starting WR corps. If you still think the Giants would have a winning record now (let alone a 7-1 record), you're out of your friggin mind.
The only people shocked that the Cowboys stink right now are Cowboys fans and moron journalists. Even without the injuries, Dallas was a mess from the outset. Wade Phillips was always a short term puppet; a man with no authority over the roster. Even if he did have authority, Phillips has never proven himself a quality head coach in this league, especially when things go south. And when you stock your team with players like Terrell Owens and Tony Romo, you are invited disaster. These are not people who are known to keep their composure when things go wrong. They panic, point fingers, and do not inspire others to rise up to a challenge.
And then, there is Jerry Jones, one of the most incompetent football men in the sport. As a business man, he is outstanding. As an evaluator of talent, he is a complete boob. Terry could draft better for Dallas than Jones, and he'd probably sign better free agents. Anyone shocked by Dallas' mid-season collapse was blind to the obvious. This is not a high character team, and it starts with their owner.
Like Seattle, injuries are a big reason why the Colts are at .500 at Week Nine for the first time since 2002. Pro Bowlers Jeff Saturday and Peyton Manning started the season hurt. Bob Sanders was knocked out in Week Two, and just came back last week against the Patriots. DT Ed Johnson was kicked off the team in Week Two, and his back-up (Quinn Pitcock) quit football prior to training camp. Starting LBer Tyjuan Hagler started the season on PUP, as did starting OG Ryan Lilja. Dallas Clark has missed several games with injury, and Joseph Addai just returned from missing three games with a hamstring tear. Starting CBs Marlin Jackson (out for year) and Kelvin Hayden (out since Week Four) have missed significant time. And, recently, WILL backer Freddie Keiaho has been out.
Pile all that up boys and girls, and you have 4-4. If you have been around the Colts, you'd know that Dungy is still the man in charge, and this team certainly has not quit on him. Games like the comeback wins over Minnesota and Houston prove that. For the last three years, pretty much everyone knew that Jim Caldwell would succeed Tony Dungy. They just announced what everyone already knew this past off-season. From 2003-2007, the Colts did not have to contend with the kind of injuries they have sustained this season.
If Don Banks had done his job, he'd have written that, and not the crap he printed recently.