Can anyone think of an offseason move that negatively affected more careers than Cam Cameron's hiring as head coach of Miami?
- 1) Obviously at the top of the list is Cameron himself. He did great work in San Diego, convincing Schottenheimer to back off Martyball, which led to a 10-game streak at the end of the season, giving them the best record in football. Now he's an 0-4 head coach, and appears on the fast track to becoming the next Norv Turner, a guy well respected as a coordinator who can't hack it as a head coach.
- 2) Speaking of, let's get right to Turner. Now, granted, I don't think his legacy as a head coach could have been hurt much more. But if he had been the head coach in Miami right now, or somewhere else that didn't have the most talented roster in the league, there would still be some room for doubt, a plausible argument that he might not be awful. Now 1-3 in the worst-looking division in football-behind Oakland, whose 6-10 2005 was their best season in two years; Kansas City, who could only barely beat Minnesota; and Denver, who is doing everything in their power to lose a division they should be running away with. There is no doubt now: Norv Turner can not coach an NFL football team. If Cameron hadn't been hired by Miami, he probably would have gotten the San Diego job, leaving Turner to keep working as a coordinator, where his talents are respected.
- 3) A.J. Smith. His stock was at an all-time high, after some ingenious drafting and personnel movement transformed the Chargers from a joke team that Eli Manning refused to play for (how does that look now, Eli?) to an AFC superpower. But the firing of Marty Schottenheimer had everything to do with Smith's power struggles. The hiring of Turner had everything to do with Turner's easygoing, non-confrontational personality. Now he looks like a fool.
- 4) Dean Spanos. The Chargers' owner made the bonehead decision of the year in waiting so long to fire Marty. In the meantime, the Chargers' staff was plundered, and all the good head coaching candidates were gone.
- 5) Ron Rivera. If Cameron hadn't been hired by Miami, it's possible that the Chargers would have left Cameron coordinating the offense and given the head coaching job to Rivera. Without Cameron, an offensive-minded head coach was needed. He's still not in a horrible place, though, as he's the likely candidate to take over after Turner gets fired this year.
- 6) Philip Rivers. He joined Brady and Manning as the elected Pro Bowl starters for the AFC, a great honor. Then he lost a coach who was a great QB mentor.
- 7) LaDainian Tomlinson. The numbers drop-off has been astounding, though he rebounded a bit this week.
- 8) The rest of the Chargers' offense.
- 9) Daunte Culpepper. With his old protégé from Washington, Trent Green, out of a starting job, Cameron worked hard to get Green as Miami's quarterback. Culpepper was left without a job, and couldn't get to camp anywhere until halfway through the exhibition (take that, NFL, I said "exhibition") games. He's extremely lucky he ended up getting to take snaps in Oakland.
- 10) Trent Green. I understand not wanting to end your career on a year where you suffered a severe concussion and couldn't get your game back. But now he's looking to end his career on a year where he was too old to play the game effectively. Which would you prefer? Really, the best option for him would be to end his career as a mentor for a promising young guy. If Cameron hadn't gone to Miami, he could have been picked up by San Diego, who would have employed his knowledge of Kansas City's defense as well as used him to keep bringing Rivers along.
- 11) The Dolphins' wide receivers. At least Culpepper had an arm. And Joey Harrington did win them some games. Now they're relying on Trent Green, later John Beck or Cleo Lemon to put the ball in their hands. Ouch.
- 12) Brady Quinn. Given that another head coach wouldn't have such a personal investment in Green, they would have been much more likely to pick Quinn in the draft. Thus Quinn would have gotten a bigger paycheck, and wouldn't be stuck behind out-of-the-blue wunderkind Derek Anderson.
- 13) Alex Smith. Since Cameron's hiring in Miami led to Turner's hiring in San Diego, Smith doesn't have Turner as his coordinator anymore. The progress he made last year hasn't carried over into 2007 thus far.
- 14) Frank Gore, for similar reasons. He was considered a top 5 back in the league, easily, when Turner was drawing up the plays.
- 15) Chargers' fans.
- 16) Dolphins' fans.
- 17) 49ers' fans. All three teams have taken a step back, and it's been painful to witness. The Bolts and Niners aren't out of it, but they're all playing like teams that are going to get worse before they get better.
So I'm going to go ahead and say that Cam Cameron's hiring was the worst move of the offseason, and I'm speaking for the NFL as a whole. Most other bad moves, like the Chargers' similarly letting Wade Phillips go to Dallas, had a loser and a winner. This one and its chain reactions negatively affected three teams, only benefiting the teams that get to play them.