I have noticed quite a bit of, in my opinion, misguided anger towards Rick Spielman on here recently, and I am trying to comprehend how it came to be, and why. I believe it stems from his unclear role with this team through the Brad Childress
error era, and 2011. This is going to be decently long because, facts, so bare with me.
When Rick was hired in 2006, he was named Vice President of Player Personnel, directing scouting, Free Agency, and draft preparations. He was 1 of the 3 "points" in the often mocked, Triangle of Authority, along with Childress and Vice President of Football Operations, Rob Brezinski. HOWEVAH, he was not hired until after the 06 draft, which brought us such gems as:
Ryan Cook, Tavaris Jackson, whom we traded picks #83 and 95 for, Ray Edwards and Greg Blue, who I'm pretty sure didn't even make the team. Of course Chad Greenway and Cedric Griffin were drafted that year, and Chad has been pretty damn spectacular for this team, Ced is a toss up. He wasn't spectacular, but he was certainly better than the crap we have now, so that's something I suppose.
(Side note, while the Steelers didn't exactly hit it out of the park with their extra picks, MN could have traded up and picked any of these players instead: Tim Jennings, CB. Greg Jennings, WR. Anthony Fasano, TE. Daniel Manning, CB. Roman Harper, S. all of whom were taken after Ryan Cook and Tavaris in round 2. Also, traded was a 4th and 6th to Philadelphia for their 4th and Artis Hicks. In keeping that pick, we had choices of: Elvis Dumervil, Demetrius Williams, Domata Peko, Barry Cofield and Will Blackmon. BIFF)
So, after this absolutely putrid draft, Rick Spielman is hired, fast forward to the 2007 draft. 2007 brought us Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, and Brian Robison. Thats it. Of 8 picks made, only 3 even play in the NFL, and 3 couldn't cut in in any other league. So, not a great start, but in a split decision tree that gives the head coach final say over personnel, 3 players. In conjunction with the ToA, Free Agency brought, Visanthe Shiancoe, Vinny Ciurciu, Mike Doss and Bobby Wade. Not much.
08: Besides John Sullivan, not one person from the draft is even worth mentioning, except that Letroy Guion is still a member of this team, and they traded a 2nd and 4th round pick to move up and take TYRELL JOHNSON. Also, we moved up to get John David Booty. Signing Madieu Williams, Bernard Berrian and Thomas Tapeh, who was cut in October. He has not played in the NFL since. Terrible moves. Trading 1st, and 2 3rd's for Jared Allen, great move.
09: The Season of Favre. Favre, Percy Harvin, Phil Loadholdt, Jasper Brinkley and Jamarca Sanford. Not a terrible draft, but the signing of Nafuafu Tofu or whatever his name is, was just stupid. 2 straight years of FB biffs, especially when Jim Kleinsasser should have been starting at FB.
And finally, 2010. Chris Cook, Toby Gerhart, Everson Griffen, and Joe Webb. Firstly, I am a big fan of TOBY SMASH, but there was no need to draft a Running Back in the 2nd round when Adrian damn Peterson is on your roster. Instead of trading up, our list of "could have drafted's" includes: Carlos Dunlap, Sean Lee, Golden Tate, Pat Angerer, Jon Asamoah, Colt McCoy, Ed Dixson, Eric Decker and Tony Moeaki) Childress gets fired after the Green Bay "Drubbing at the 'Dome," and Fraizer takes over.
2011, the final year of the ToA, in which Fraizer made final personnel decisions, included: Donovan McNabb, who Spielman was rumored to not want, as he believed the team needed to be blown up and build around core players, while Fraizer believed the team could make 1 more run at the playoffs. Fraizer got what he wanted. Losing Sidney Rice to the Seahawks wasn't a big deal, and resigning Chad Greenway was a solid, albeit a little expensive resigning for my taste. My favorite signings have to be Remi Ayodele and Charlie Johnson, who are clearly lights out players. Fraizer brought in Bill Musgrave to shape the QBotF, and promoted Fred Pagac to Defensive Coordinator, and after 2 years of Musgrave, and the historically bad defense that Pagac oversaw, it's clear Fraizer has no idea how to evaluate good coaching. (How does that saying go? "You gotta be one, to know one?") In the draft, Fraizer wanted: Ponder, however he was a huge huge reach at 12, and most likely could have been had in the 2nd, Rudolph, who was a great pick, poor QB play aside. Christian Ballard, who I believe was a good backup quit after 2 years, so we got hosed there, but I can't hold that against either Fraizer or Rick, you can't predict that. Demarcus Love was a terrible pick, and so was Mistral Raymond so far. Brandon Fusco, jury is still out I suppose, but he has not impressed me in pass blocking, and after getting demolished on that crucial 4th and 1 yesterday, I am officially over him. So, 1 good player, 1 maddeningly inconsistent player, and not much else. Fraizer proved in 1 offseason he has no clue how to evaluate talent.
Now to my favorite part.
In 2012 Rick Speilman was named General Manager, and given final say over on field personnel, but left coordinator decisions to, Leslie Fraizer, yet again, who hired Alan Williams for the D. Coordinator position. In Speilman's first draft with final say, he drafted Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, Josh Robinson, Rhett Ellison, Greg Childs, Jarius Wright and Blair Walsh. Kalil was a major upgrade at LT, making the Pro Bowl and helped get the OLine rated as the #9 Line in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. (Brandon Fusco, was absolute poop, getting a -11.8 rating, while Kalil was rated as the 8th best tackle in the league) Harrison Smith, took the entire back end of the defense and made it respectable, Jarius Wright was kept off the field, for absolutely no reason until Percy Harvin went on IR with an ankle sprain. Jarius played ok, catching 22 passes for 310 yards and 2 touchdowns, with a great game against Green Bay. Rhett graded positively in every facet of the game according to PFF, and did not give up a sack, hit or pressure all season. And Blair Walsh only set the NFL record for most 50+ yard field goals in a season, and hit 92% of his field goals, plus was named to the Pro Bowl. In Free Agency, Speilman signed John Carlson, who is officially a bust, Geoff Schwartz, who PFF said should have been playing over Brandon Fusco, Jerome Simpson who is finally healthy and doing decent this year, and Jerome Felton, who only helped pave the way for Adrian to rush for 2k and made the Pro Bowl. (Brad Childress never had 3 new additions to a team make the Pro Bowl)
2012 was a byproduct of Percy Harvin catching everything in the first 9 games, and Adrian rushing for 1,598 yards over 8 games. On defense, Harrison, Antoine, Jared and Chad kept the defense from breaking, and kept every game close enough to win, but Christian Ponder played horrible in the middle of the season, throwing 10 TDs to 12 INTs. However with Adrian going off, Harvin doing everything humanly possible and the defense keeping it close save for the Washington and Chicago games, they still lost 5 of 8 games. Instead of extending Leslie Fraizer, Speilman picked up the option on Fraizers contract, learning from the fiasco of picking up Brad Childress after the 2009 season.
I wont add this years Draft picks because its much too early to make a definite conclusion on them, look at Robinson, he had a damn decent year last year, and is the worst ranked CB in the league this year. However, Xavier Rhodes is already the best Cornerback on this team, and trading up for Patterson is looking like a great trade that will pay off more in the next 2 years than it will this year, barring an injury at WR and a sudden change in route running ability, but those returns are magical. Greg Jennings was a good signing, who can't get anything going because his QB is never looking for him, and Matt Cassel quarterbacked us to our only win of the season, so that's either a good signing to you because it resulted in a win, or it was a terrible signing because it was spendy and now we have less chance of picking up Bridgewater. I personally don't mind the signing, because we needed someone besides Joe Webb as the backup, but we already had that backup on the roster in Ponder.
This is a long fan shot, so I will summarize my basic point. Spielman has had 1 actual year acquiring the talent he really wanted on this team, so it's much to early to be calling for his head. Look at the terrible talent Childress brought into this team over those 5 years. This team over performed last year due to Adrian going Cyborg on everyone. Looking at 2012, he brought in great talent through the entire draft, from Kalil, whose having a down year, Smith, Wright, and Walsh. If Childs didn't blow out his knees, this could be a scary Wide Receiver corp. (if they had a QB to throw them the ball that is) Speilman at least deserves another year to mold this team and get the coaches he wants.
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to reading exactly why I'm wrong and don't know what the hell I'm talking about.