In the NFL, most of the credit goes to players when things are going smooth. But when decisions are made that could doom franchises, fans turn their anger upon the men in the front office. Every year, general managers and head coaches from each team make decisions that they will boast about in future years as well as some they would prefer to forget.
Here are some of the worst decisions made during the 2011 NFL Season:
Vikings Choose Donovan McNabb
Donovan McNabb went to his third team in three years – and quite possibly his last.
Uncomfortable handing the keys to first-round pick Christian Ponder due to a lack of minicamps and team workouts, Minnesota Head Coach Leslie Frazier had his eye on one of the NFL’s most celebrated quarterback in the past decade.
The Vikings paid $5 million for an insurance policy named McNabb.
Frazier’s decision quickly set the team in a downward spiral, landing the Vikings dead last in the NFC North. After only throwing a measly four touchdowns in six games, McNabb was released in early December, placing him on waivers.
It may be time for McNabb to make the move into the broadcast booth.
Falcons’ Fourth-Down Gamble in Overtime Against Saints
After his Atlanta Falcons recovered from a 10-point deficit during their November 13th
game with the New Orleans Saints, Head Coach Mike Smith's club headed into overtime with the ball first.
With 10:52 remaining, Atlanta was facing 4th-and-inches at their own 29. Smith risked scrutiny and went for it rather than punting. His fourth-down gamble failed.
The Falcons did not get the first down and the Saints went on to kick their game-winning field goal.
Andy Reid Hiring Juan Castillo as Defensive Coordinator
With the Philadelphia Eagles’ firing of defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, Head Coach Andy Reid was searching for someone to fill that slot. In an unconventional move, Reid chose Juan Castillo. Castillo has been a member of the Philadelphia Eagles' coaching staff since 1995. From 1998 to 2010, he served as the club's offensive line coach.
More notable is the fact that Castillo had not coached that side of football since his run at Kingsville High School in 1989.
Hiring Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator was not Andy Reid’s defining moment as a head coach.
Peyton Manning, Colts Agree To $90 Million Contract
Indianapolis GM Bill Polian, along with his former general manager son, Chris, were fired in early January. This may be one of the better decisions the Colts made. With Manning on the sidelines this season, Polian’s deficiencies were in full view for all to see.
The worst decision Polian made was giving Peyton Manning a five-year extension worth $90 million. According to a league source, that new contract was given to Manning without requiring the quarterback to pass a physical. At this point in his career, the 35-year-old player has undergone two neck surgeries and a knee surgery in the past four years.
Currently, the Colts hold the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but they also owe Peyton Manning $28 million before the league year starts in March. Committing over one-sixth of the salary cap to the future Hall of Famer leaves the Colts with less money to pay players at other positions.
They will be forced to sit back and watch some of their best players walk in free agency to teams able to offer more money.
Jason Garrett Ices Own Kicker
Coaches have made a habit of calling a timeout just prior to the opposing kicker getting ready to attempt a crucial field goal.
In Arizona, with the Cowboys and Cardinals in a 13-13 affair, Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett attempted a different, more avant-garde method. While his field-goal kicker Dan Bailey was lining up for what could have been a 49-yard game-winner, Garrett utilized one of the two timeouts he had left.
Yes, he iced his own kicker.
Bailey missed the re-kick, and Cardinals’ running back LaRod Stephens-Howling won the game in overtime with a 52-yard touchdown.
Proving to be a stand-up guy, Bailey insisted it was his fault. In a post-game interview, Bailey said, "We called the timeout, but that is my job to regroup and make the next one. I didn't do that. No excuses. I should have made it despite the circumstances."
But perhaps the greatest post-game quote was from Cardinals Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt who said, "I was glad they iced their kicker so I didn't have to."