The League

Sean McCann
Beat Writer

Sean McCann

Former Philadelphia Eagles beat writer for Gannett

Parity Still Alive

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The NFL's parity ideal is alive and well, despite what seems like a large gathering at the extremes. For proof, one need not look further than the Tennessee Titans.

Here's an 0-4 team that's basically OK -- decent defense, nice ground game, serviceable veteran quarterback, extremely well-respected coach -- that just ran into the wrong four opponents to start the season. A year ago, the Titans were 4-0, on their way to 10-0, and now they're winless and part of some alarming trend? I don't buy it.

The teams that are truly bad now -- Oakland, Cleveland, Kansas City, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Detroit -- can trace their woes directly to their own mismanagement. For some (the Raiders and Al Davis) the mishandling has followed a long pattern. For others (the Bucs and Raheem Morris), the blunders have been more catastrophic.

Take a step back, and this epidemic isn't so bad at all. Three of those five teams have been to a Super Bowl in the last 10 years. The Bucs were a playoff team and division champion just two years ago.
Contrast that with other major pro sports. Consider baseball, where teams like the Pirates, Nationals and Orioles stand virtually no chance of reversing their fortunes. Or basketball, where teams voluntarily plunge themselves into the deep end of horribleness for seasons on end just to clear badly spent money from their books. Or hockey, where nobody cares.

There's no problem at the other end of the spectrum either. Five NFL team remain undefeated, but they're not necessarily the teams we all expected them to be. Heck, they're not even necessarily the teams we all think are the best right now. If the 4-0 Broncos traveled to Heinz Field this Sunday, would they not be an underdog to the 2-2 Steelers?

In short, there have always been bad quarterbacks, idiotic coaches and poor front offices, and there will always be. But in the NFL, good quarterbacks, smart coaches and astute front offices have been able to turn teams around in just a season or two. This is still true.

By Sean McCann  |  October 9, 2009; 11:43 AM ET  | Category:  Carolina Panthers , Cleveland Browns , Indianapolis Colts , Kansas City Chiefs , Minnesota Vikings , New Orleans Saints , New York Giants , Tampa Bay Buccaneers , Tennessee Titans Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Sadly for longtime Washington fans, your analysis re: poor front offices hits dead center. It feels like we went from an artist in Jack Kent Cooke to a hack in Dan Snyder, whom Sally Jenkins accurately described today as "toxic management."

Even allowing for the differences in eras due to free agency and the salary cap, it's hard to believe that the Cooke/Beathard/Gibbs combo wouldn't have outperformed the Snyder/Cerrato/NextCoach combo of the past 10 years. Hell, even bringing back the iconic Gibbs, who replicated his NFL management excellence within two years in a completely unrelated field, i.e. NASCAR, couldn't overcome Snyder/Cerrato's poisonous, inept bumbling. Unfortunately, you can fire everyone except the owner, as fans of the Orioles and Redskins will rue for a long time to come.

Posted by: salescoach | October 10, 2009 4:32 PM

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