What's that you say? It's waaaaaay to early to be makingn predictions for the 2010 season?
We've got our new GM and HC. We know we're not going to make a "big splash" in free agency. And we can always take what we saw this year and project it forward.
Of course there's a lot of speculation involved. Hey, I really thought we had a shot at making the playoffs this year. (You have to remember, this was back when we thought Trent Edwards was going to have a breakout year, and players like T.O. and Maybin were going to make a real impact.) Going in to next year there are HUGE question marks. Will we have a QB? Will Maybin come along? Will Schobel retire? Will Wood be able to come back? What are we going to do in the draft? Is Lynch going to be able to stay out of trouble? Etc., etc.
Still, I thought it might be a good idea to ask for some early prognostications if only for this reason: It would help to lay down some realistic expectations for what we think we're going to get out of the new Buddy & Chan regime.
Some people have been happy with the hiring of Buddy & Chan. Some people have been angry. I think most people are taking a "wait and see" approach. But what benchmark are we going to hold them to? What, exactly, are we waiting to see? If we go 7-9 next year are people going to say "We could have kept Jauron and had another 7-9 year!" What sort of honest expecations do you Rumblers have going in to next year to measure progress against? This is where I think predictions are useful.
This is what I'm thinking: We are currently in major rebuilding mode with many holes to fill. We are also in a very competitive division (no, I don't think New England is in decline, they are rebuilding too). I predict another 6-10 year in 2010. I think 8-8 (or better) and we should be very happy. That would be a real success in my book. 6-10 or 7-9 is what I would predict no matter who was the coach of this team (Shanahan, Cowher, Frazier, whoever). And I could live with that record with one proviso: Given that our stated goal is to build through the draft, I would want to see clear evidence that we had a really good draft and were making progress on that front.
5-11 or worse, AND a bad draft, and I will be jumping on the "dump Buddy & Chan" bandwagon big time next year. Maybe that's setting the bar a little low, but I'm trying to be realistic. I just don't think we're better than a 6-10 team right now, and turning things around is going to take time.