Ranking the NFL job openings after Black Monday’s bloodbath

The core of the San Francisco 49ers (l-r) Navarro Bowman, Colin Kaepernick, and Patrick Willis remain intact for the next head coach.

The core of the San Francisco 49ers (l-r) Navarro Bowman, Colin Kaepernick, and Patrick Willis remain intact for the next head coach.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The NFL playoffs start on Saturday, January 3, but the week began with a range of changes on Black Monday. The Atlanta Falcons and San francisco 49ers parted ways with their head coach, while the New York Jets and Chicago Bears terminated their general manager and head coach. Jeff Fisher amazingly retains his head coaching job of the St. Louis Rams despite another mediocre season, but there are five current openings that need to filled.

The next Raiders head coach will have last season's 1st two picks in Khalil Mack (l) and Derek Carr (m) to do a better job than last year's head coach Dennis Allen (r).

The next Raiders head coach will have last season’s first two picks in Khalil Mack (l) and Derek Carr (m) to do a better job than last year’s head coach Dennis Allen (r).

6) The Oakland Raiders have been the model of consistency the last dozen NFL seasons, unfortunately they have been consistently dreadful. The Raiders will not bring back interim head coach Tony Sparano. Raiders rookies Khalil Mack, Derek Carr and second year running back Latavius Murray are some of the bright spots on a roster that needs major changes. The next head coach will not only have to contend with a losing culture but also another season of massive overhaul to the roster. They would be best served in hiring a head coach with plenty of NFL experience.

The Jets will have to decide whether Geno Smith (r) and Eric Decker (l) are part of the long-term solution as the team looks to improve quickly.

The Jets will have to decide whether Geno Smith (r) and Eric Decker (l) are part of the long-term solution as the team looks to improve quickly.

5) The New York Jets pulled the plug on the Rex Ryan/John Idzik era with much fanfare to long- suffering Jets fans. The next GM will have the #6 pick in this upcoming draft and a lot of cap space to try to address a myriad of needs. Second year quarterback Geno Smith and high-priced free agent wide receiver Eric Decker had career days in the last game of the season. The next head coach will have the daunting task of grooming a franchise quarterback, something that has escaped the Jets for quite some time.

The first step  for the turnaround for the Bills is to find a long-term answer at quarterback to throw the ball to last year's first round pick Sammy Watkins.

The first step for the turnaround for the Bills is to find a long-term answer at quarterback to throw the ball to last year’s first round pick Sammy Watkins.

4) The Buffalo Bills and head coach Doug Marrone decided to go their separate ways after two disappointing seasons. The Bills expected Marrone to help their offense grow, instead the defense has been much stronger. There are a number of veteran defensive players that are likely to remain on the roster next season but the team has to solve the issue at starting quarterback. The team started journeyman quarterback Kyle Orton for the majority of last season so it is imperative the Bills address that situation. Their next head coach will have to make the offense as good as the defense has been the past couple of years.

The next GM and head coach of the Bears will have to solve the riddle of how to win with Jay Cutler.

The next GM and head coach of the Bears will have to solve the riddle of how to win with Jay Cutler.

3) The Chicago Bears appear to have enough pieces in place to complete a quick turnaround. However, their defense will require a number of changes to improve, their lousy, hopeless, big money quarterback Jay Cutler seems to have regressed, and they play in one of the toughest divisions. The Bears will first have to find a GM who will determine whether they want an offensive or defensive minded head coach. Ultimately, the next head coach will have to do something that no previous head coach has been able to do, win consistently with Jay Cutler, who is a bust, regardless of his exorbitant contract.

The Falcons feel they have cornerstone players in Julio Jones (l) and Matt Ryan (r). The next head coach has to vastly improve their defense and make the offense more balanced.

The Falcons feel they have cornerstone players in Julio Jones (l) and Matt Ryan (r). The next head coach has to vastly improve their defense and make the offense more balanced.

2) The Atlanta Falcons have been trending backwards since making it to the NFC Championship in 2012. Mike Smith was relieved of his duties in part because the defensive oriented head coach has been unable to put a suitable defense on the field. The Falcons will not only have to make huge strides on defense to turn things around, but their offense is way too dependent on their passing attack. Julio Jones is extremely talented but injury prone and the next head coach is going to have to get more out of quarterback Matt Ryan.

The next 49ers head coach will have large shoes to fill as Jim Harbaugh (l) helped restore the franchise to it's winning ways by helping identify Colin Kaepernick as the next franchise quarterback.

The next 49ers head coach will have large shoes to fill as Jim Harbaugh (l) helped restore the franchise to its winning ways by helping identify Colin Kaepernick as the next franchise quarterback.

1) The San Francisco 49ers ended the season 8 – 8 after going to 3 consecutive NFC Championship games. Head coach Jim Harbaugh’s departure was not celebrated by 49ers fans but anticipated. The team has many positive components in place including quarterback Colin Kaepernick and an excellent defense. All-Pro linebackers Navarro Bowman and Patrick Willis should be healthy returns to the roster that will need to improve at cornerback and wide receiver. The main task for the next head coach is to vastly improve a predictable and largely unproductive offense. The 49ers have the best chance to turn things around next season and return to the playoffs.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a training and benefits consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com. For business inquiries contact (646)309-1938.

Will Russell Wilson’s success change the perception of black quarterbacks?

 

Super Bowl 48 champion Russell Wilson.

Super Bowl 48 Champion Russell Wilson.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Year after year football fans were reminded that the only African-American starting quarterback to win the National Football League (NFL) Super Bowl was Doug Williams in 1988. It was more than just reciting a fact, it was like a trivia question on some historical event unlikely to be matched. To date, there have been 48 Super Bowls and 96 starting quarterbacks. Five of the starting quarterbacks have been black, including last year’s runner-up Colin Kaepernick and this year’s winner Russell Wilson.

Super Bowl 22 champion and game MVP Doug Williams.

Super Bowl 22 Champion and game MVP Doug Williams.

Wilson’s success will definitely have an impact on the league going forward. Kurt Badenhausen, writer for Forbes.com, points out that “[Joe] Flacco…,[Aaron] Rodgers…, and [Drew] Brees signed a $100 million deal,” shortly after winning the Super Bowl. He also highlights that, “Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks are the most marketable players in the NFL.” While there have been a good number of African-American quarterbacks to start and succeed in the NFL, Williams and Wilson continue to change the narrative so that black quarterbacks should be viewed as winners as well.

Top rated quarterback prospect Teddy Bridgewater.

Top rated quarterback prospect Teddy Bridgewater.

Yet there are many who believe Wilson joining the illustrious company of Super Bowl- winning quarterbacks is insignificant. ESPN’s Michael Smith on his show Numbers Never Lie (NNL), the day after the Super Bowl stated, “I would like to think we have moved past the point where the color of the skin matters…when it comes to quarterbacks.” He would go on to point out the number of black quarterbacks in the league currently and the high probability that highly touted college prospects Teddy Bridgewater and Jameis Winston will also join that list. There are clearly more starting opportunities given to black quarterbacks now than there ever have been in the NFL.

Colin Kaepernick at Super Bowl 47.

Colin Kaepernick  (c) at Super Bowl 47.

However, the number of African-Americans that are deemed “franchise quarterbacks” is quite small. Franchise quarterbacks are not only given an opportunity to start for their team but are given long-term contracts worth $100 million dollars or more. These rewards come to quarterbacks whose teams feel are the long-term solution for the quarterback position, and who generate confidence of a Super Bowl victory. In this regard, there is still significant room for improvement for racial equality as it appears the determination of franchise quarterback is still easier to achieve for white quarterbacks than anyone else.

Michael Vick has accomplished a great deal in his career including signing 2 different $100 million contracts.

Michael Vick has accomplished a great deal in his career including signing two different $100 million contracts.

Currently, the only black quarterback in the NFL who has signed a $50 million dollar guaranteed contract (or contract extension) or greater since the 2010 season is Michael Vick. In the meantime, there have been at least six of those types of contracts signed by white quarterbacks since the end of the 2012 season alone. Franchises show their belief in the future of the players by signing them to long-term lucrative contracts, not just giving them a chance to prove themselves on the field.

Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are both signed to rookie contracts that paid them less than a million dollars for this entire season ($526,220 and $740,840 respectively). ESPN NFL Insider Dan Graziano explains, “When you’re still a couple of years from really having to pay your franchise quarterback…your GM’s offseason priority list becomes a lot more fun.” With their recent success, there is little doubt that their teams will sign them to lucrative deals in the future.

Will Robert Griffin III (l) or Cam Newton (r) earn lucrative deals from their current team?

Will Robert Griffin III (l) or Cam Newton (r) earn lucrative deals from their current team?

The true test of the evaluation of the black quarterbacks will come when other young black quarterbacks with less success than Wilson and Kaepernick, but showing just as much promise, are available for contract extensions. Will Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and Geno Smith be given the same faith by their franchises with long-term contracts as Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, or Jay Cutler? Black quarterbacks are beyond the point of proving that they deserve an opportunity. At this point, if the franchises truly believe in these young men, they will show them the money.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Limited support for black quarterbacks to succeed

Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback Josh Freeman.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting quarterback Josh Freeman.

By Charles Glover Jr.

There appears to be a change in the struggle for equal opportunities for the black quarterback at the top-level of football. A record of nine starting African-American quarterbacks were in the NFL this opening weekend. While there are clearly more chances given to black quarterbacks so far this season, the struggle for true equality seems elusive. Black quarterbacks face an uphill climb trying to prove themselves as long-term solutions that organizations believe can help them win the ultimate goal:a Super Bowl championship.

l. Robert Griffin III, c. Colin Kaepernick, r. Russell Wilson

l. Robert Griffin III, c. Colin Kaepernick, r. Russell Wilson.

Now that there are more black quarterbacks  being signed to teams, a more uniform evaluation of the quarterback position itself, if implemented, would signal a new, equitable approach. Each young quarterback wants to be viewed by their organization as a franchise quarterback, a quarterback that organizations can feel comfortable with. NFL teams want to be able to believe that their quarterbacks will ultimately lead them to the Super Bowl prize over a period of several years. Currently, there are only three out of 32 teams that have black quarterbacks who definitively fit that criteria: Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III. Cam Newton and Michael Vick can also join that franchise quarterback list with stellar plays this season. That would bring the total to five black quarterbacks out of 32 NFL teams.

Michael Vick, Josh Freeman. Current starting quarterbacks fighting for future security.

Michael Vick and Josh Freeman, current starting quarterbacks who are fighting for future security.

The new struggle for black quarterbacks is to be able to convince franchises that their success is something that the organization should invest in long-term. So far that struggle is still not being won on a consistent basis. The criteria that organizations use to determine which quarterback they will invest in long term vary. What is clear, however, is that the criteria have yet to favor a black quarterback in recent memory.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo

This past off-season Carson Palmer took his miserable starting record for the Oakland Raiders and parlayed that into a starting job with the Cardinals in Arizona.
Not to be outdone, Tony Romo cashed in on his goodwill with the Cowboys and signed a contract worth more than current Super Bowl defending champion quarterback Joe Flacco, despite Romo under-performing in consecutive seasons. It remains to be seen if Josh Freeman, current Buccaneers quarterback, or Michael Vick, current Eagles quarterback, will be so fortunate in landing future starting positions if their teams both fail to reach the playoffs this season. It seems unlikely, given past trends, that Vick and Freeman could imagine any scenario in which they would get salary increases if they underachieve in consecutive seasons like Romo and Palmer did.

Do the Carolina Panthers believe Cam Newton is their quarterback of the future?

Do the Carolina Panthers believe Cam Newton is their quarterback of the future?

While it is positive to see black quarterbacks anchoring teams, the jury is still out as to the extent of those chances being offered to them. It is up for discussion whether they are going to be judged the same way as their white counterparts. It appears as if black quarterbacks are held to a higher standard to perform while being given a shorter window and less support to excel. Black quarterbacks are pressured excessively to perform immediately.They are expected to produce stellar results with minimum time to grow and thrive. They must not only win games, but look good doing so, and display superior character in the process.

One can only hope that white quarterbacks will be judged by this same high standard going forward. However, if the current pattern is a guide, such equal expectation of accountabilty for white quarterbacks seems to be a long shot. Somehow, it seems as if black quarterbacks are expected to produce and excel right away while white quarterback are nurtured, coddled, supported and then rewarded with exorbitant contracts, even when they fail to produce. The dichotomy sets a troubling precedent for the sport and should be addressed, for the integrity of the game, before this season ends. OnPointPress.net