Let me start by saying the point of this post is to help the rumblers that have not or cannot see the master plan that is already in place, and is being followed every day to see there is reason for hope. This is a big undertaking as most of the 5%(those who opposed CHIX from the beginning) have there minds made up and only wins will change there minds. Never the less I will take a stab at it , and being that it is such a big job it will take a big post so lets get right to it.
First let me say that there are many parts to a football team. We spend most of our time here on Rumblings talking about players, talent, coaches, management, and the lack there of. This is the way it should be as these are the things that effect our team now, and in the near future. They are the biggest parts of the game. This is not what this post is going to be about.
I will start by talking about THE PLAN. There are many that doubt that there is a plan simply because the choices that have been made so far do not fit their version of what the plan should be. The most common of those is the draft a franchise QB and LT if you dont already have them plan. I am not sure I would even call that a plan. It could be called the biggest and most important part of any plan as talent at these two positions is crucial, but in and of itself it is not a plan. Many teams have followed that step of a plan and still find themselves in the bottom half of the NFL, because this can only be part of any good plan to rebuild a team. It does after all only address two positions out of 53, and then there are still many ways to kill a team that has talent at these two positions. Example: poor drafting(Buffalo), poor and too many FA signings(Jets), poor contract management(Washington), and poor coaching and player development(Raiders). I am sure there are many more ways than this, but the point is there are many parts to a team that have to be right besides drafting the first QB and LT you can get your hands on. That is not a plan it is more of a process. Nix does have a plan and if you dont know what it is it is because you dont want to hear it, or you dont believe him.
Lets talk for a moment about what THE PLAN is. Nix has stated on many occasions his plan. At the core it is evaluate what talent is currently on the team so as not to through out the baby with the bath water. Sorry I could no help my self I had to get the baby thing in there. This has been a mixed bag as Parrish, Bell,Ellis,Williams, Trent,and Brohm could have been thrown out from the start, but all were given a chance to show what they could do with new coaching and new schemes. Now we are starting to see the direction they want to go with these guys. Build through the draft. This is not the fastest way to build a team, but is the most proven successful way, and he told us from the beggining we would need to be patient. He said it would be a slow and steady process, and that it would be done right. FA signings would be only used to fill holes, and would not likely be top tier (top $) type players. He never said he would not use FA but that he does not see it as a way to build the team. Rather as away to supplement the drafted talent. IMO he did a great job last year considering the small size of the talent pool available to him. Green does stink but baring a trade there was not anyone else of significantly more talent to choose from. Which brings me to the next part of the plan. He said he would not be throwing our draft picks around as trade bait. He values them to much. he must have confidence in his drafting ability. Next he said he wanted to have a heavy focus on teaching. This is a must as we have a lot of young players, and rookies on the team. 12 rookies, and 26 players with 2 years or less exp. If we keep 5 of our 8 drafts from next year that would make 31 players with 3 years or less exp. That is going to take a lot of teaching, and young players make mistakes but the team will benefit from this youth movement in the near future. Bring in guys with good character, and good work ethic. Play hard, and work hard. No more of the DJ spa club. Finally he said from the start he wanted to find out what the problem was with all the injures. No team can win consistently with 20 + players a year on IR. He brought in two strenght and conditioning coaches, and IMO the results are already on display. Some players are just more injury prone than others, and there has been a shift in this aspect as well with Schouman, Mitchel, and some other guys being let go after hitting IR multiple times over the past several years. If my count is right that makes an eight step plan.
There is one last step to this plan that I purposefully left out because it is not something that he has said. It is more of a speculation on my part based on looking at the numbers. Any team that is going to be successful for a long stretch of time will have to manage the money right. This is a team that has been coming in under the salary cap for a long time, and most of our contracts are not set up in a way that they are hurting the team. That being said there has been a big change in the amount of money being spent on players since Chix has been in charge, and I do not think it is by accident. Most of the change has come from not re-signing last years FA, and the influx of young players, as young players as a general rule are cheaper than old players. Below is a record of the money spent last year this year, and a projection of next year. Please do not blast me if my numbers dont add up exactly, or if some specific player is wrong by $500k. This is not ment to be 100% accurate as much as it is ment to show the trend of how much was spent, and where. I got most of my figures off of ROTOWORLD. I broke down the money into positional groups.
2009 money spent in millions:
O- line=10.2m D-line=31.6m
QB =4.008m CB =13.186m
RB =4.905m safety =8.73m
WR =23.67m LB =7.628m
Total OFF=45.268m Total Def = 61.159m
Special Teams= 2.955m
2009 Grand total = 109.382m
2010 money spent in millions:
O-line =6.86m D-line =15.835m
QB =4.74m CB =16.446m
RB =7.915m safety =6.274m
WR =11.43m LB =15.121m
Total Off. = 32.81m Total Def.=53.676m
2010 Grand total = 89.461m
2011 projected money spent in millions(with draft talent, and 17m in speculative FA signings added in)
O-line =11.835m D-line =17m
QB =7.4m CB =9.65m
RB =7.975m safety =6.08m
WR =10.91m LB =19.4m
Total Off. = 42.095m Total Def. = 52.14m
Special teams= 3.88m
2011 projected grand total= 98.115m
First let me make a few comments on the 2009-2010 transition. Major money was saved by not signing TO, Reed and Denny. More money was saved in the process of loosing Butler, and Schobel. Most of these losses were replaced with young and cheaper players. In all there is $12.458mless money invested in the Offense, and $7.483m less money invested in the deffense. The special teams changed very little. The team is spending $19.921m less this year than last year. Why one would ask is this happening in a year that has no salary cap and teams are free to spend as much as they want? They are also not bound to any minimum cap regulations, so they are doing something that under normal CBA rules would not be allowed. I can hear the Wilson is cheap replys coming already. I dont think this is the case this time. What I think is happening is there was a plan to go young, and cheap in the first year. Evaluations will be made and extensions signed throughout the year. I might add that the 2010 numbers included the signing of Poz, Whitner, Wilson, Brohm, Stupar, and Sanbourn by the end of the year. Again this is speculation, but the money is there, and I think they will secure all the players they know will be a part of the future before the end of the year. Obviously had to guess at the amounts of those contracts, but suffice to say the 2010 numbers would have been even lower if these extensions dont happen. The bottom line is money has been saved, extensions have been made, and IMO more are on there way. Also money saved this year can be used next year as we are so far below the salary cap if there is one next year.
Now lets look at the 2010-2011 transition numbers. More money will be saved here by not signing McCargo, Florence, Edwards, and a few other small money guys. Money will also be saved in the terms of some existing contracts of our older vets. McGee goes from 8.3-3.2 million, and Evans goes from 8.4-4.025 million. This coupled with the money saved from this year will put us in position to make a few moves in next years (bigger, and better FA class). I have included in my 2011 numbers 17 million in FA acquisitions(four players). This is complete speculation, but it is what I think they are going to do. That 17 million cant be spent on drafted players that money is already in my numbers, and the only other choice is to not spend the money at all. I seriously doubt this team will only spend $81 million next year. So at least some of my 17 million will be spent in FA.
Some might say spending 17 million in next years FA is going against his build through the draft stated philosophy. I disagree because he also has stated he would use FA to fill holes. We definitely have holes at (LT, WR#2, OLB, and TE). Here are my FA projections: LT-(7mil.)/ WR#2-(4mil.)/ OLB-(4mil.)/ TE-(2mil.) I am not getting into the what players will be put into these positions, but I would love to hear from you guys on this.
I also am projecting us to draft: #1 Luck, #2 RT, #3 OLB, #4 ILB, and the rest for depth. Feel free to expand in you comments.
The money is there to add( LT,WR,OLB, and TE in FA), and( QB, RT, ILB, OLB) in the draft. These upgrades will change the skill level at seven of our weakest positions. These upgrades will at least make us competitive next year, and down right good for many years to come as the younger players develop, and mature. With the quantity of young players on the team The future is bright. There is a plan !! It is being followed and my projections might not be exactly what they have in mind, but even with some modifications to my outlined plan it will work.
If you made it this far I thank you for indulging me and I welcome your comments, and yes objections.
PS: I forgot to mention Green, McCargo, Florence, Ellison, and I hope Kelsay are gone before next year.