When Jeff Faine left, it was fine. It was a cap move we all saw coming, and I liked the combo of Jeremy Zuttah and Carl Nicks better.
When Geno Hayes left, I was disappointed but not terribly surprised. He'd been benched at times, and recieved too big a contract from the Bears for someone who couldn't crack the starting lineup.
When we lost Tanard Jackson, I was even more dissapointed. I know he missed a lot of tackles, but he'd been gone from football for a year. There was still potential and he'd been clean since. The coach was making a statement. Unnecessary, but fine. Annoying, but ok. We didn't have a good replacement, but whatever.
Then we traded Kellen Winslow for a pittance. Now I started suspecting where this ends. There was never a good explanation. Seems the truth was, Greg Shiano didn't like the guy. He didn't like his attitude, he didn't like that he didn't practice. Ok, though instead of communicating that and giving him a chance, he just scraped him. And then they bungled the trade in addition. It's not that we got less talented as a team, it's that we didn't even try with this guy.
Meanwhile, though we cut Jackson and trade Winslow, the guy with the worst reputation on our team - Aqib Talib - is still here. The message: Bad off feild behavior will not be tolerated. Unless you're really, really talented.
Then came Desmon Briscoe and Brian Price. With Briscoe, the coach has set a precedent he can't maintain. He cuts a guy who couldn't pass the most strenuous conditioning tests in the league. Doesn't suspend him untill he gets back in shape. Doesn't discipline him otherwise, just outright cuts him. Ok, but what happens if Vincent Jackson fails that same test next week?
Which brings us to Price. The 36th overall pick in 2010. 2010, a year that saw so much first round talent at the DT level it's safe to say Price would likely be a first rounder in any other year. It's not just that Price was our only nose tackle, and we have no one to fill his shoes (Okoye is an under tackle. Get ready for another year of Roy Miller). It's not just that we got nothing in return (a 7th round pick, from a playoff contender no less? we might as well had just traded him for a box of footballs).
It's not even that Brian Price was only 23. TWENTY-THREE! There are DT's that got drafted this year his age. This guy still had all the potential in the world. Whoever we bring in as an additional DT won't be worth near to what Price could have been. We know that this was not the right move from a talent standpoint, but that's not the point.
It's the message Schiano sent. He gave up on a player. He gave on on a young man he was tasked with coaching. As a mentor, as a coach with a duty to get the most out of his players, Schiano is a quitter. He quit on a player who needed a good coach. A guy who was hospitalized after the tragic death of his sister is of course going to be a bit out of shape. But rather than give him some time to get in shape, help him do that as a coach should, Schiano quit on him and traded him for a worthless pick.
Is there something we don't know? Because if not, this is where I draw the line with Schiano. The new sheriff in town act has officially gotten old. He already made enough statements. If there is an exception to the rule for Talib, who did wrong, then there should be for Price, who's misfortunes are not his fault.
I'm not saying Schiano will necessarily be a bad coach. I am saying that my confidence is diminishing. I feel that Dungy wouldn't have ever cut a guy like Price, given the circumstances. Even Gruden would have kept him around for his potential.
Schiano has used the cut and trade to motivate this team, and that's fine. It needed some motivation and more importantly fear. But enough is enough, and I'm starting to see a lack of other motivational talents. Where does it end. Will the headline one day read "Schiano out of shape, cuts self"? Probably not, though I'm scared Schiano gives up on someone else - Like McCoy or even Freeman.
It is a coaches job to motivate and develop talent. Right now, I've heard a lot about Schiano cutting, waiving, and trading away potential talent because he didn't like their work ethic. At a point, however, a good coach shows the ability to work with players, and make them better workers, better teammates, and better people. It's time for Schiano to prove his motivational tactics have some depth, because his roster is running out of it.