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Playing The Expectations Game



Over the years, I've had the pleasure of working for some of the most grossly inept and incompetent managers in known history.  A couple of them would make the Pointy Haired Boss absolutely brilliant by comparison.  Recent games have reminded me of a conversation I had with one of those rocket scienticians.

At the time, I was managing asset portfolios for wealthy investors.  My portfolios were absolutely skyrocketing, but my boss' were doing horribly.  Worst of all, he had most of the assets under his control, and he refused to change his strategy, relinquish control, or just do anything different.  As a result, we were bleeding clients and money.

I had the audacity to lay out a concrete plan for him to follow in order to keep clients, but he erupted into one of his typical histrionic displays.  I gave notice about an hour later.

When he tried to convince me to stay, he claimed he had done a poor job setting my expectations about his portfolios' performance.  His argument was asinine.  It wasn't *his* fault the portfolios were doing so poorly; it was the market's fault, and I had to stay and convince clients of this "fact."  I was stunned by the lack of logic and the earnestness in which he avoided culpability.  Needless to say, I left, and the company is out of business today.

By now you are probably asking yourself: What is your point?  Great question!  I'm so glad you asked.

I believe we, and by "we" I mean we as fans and the team, have failed the expectations game.  Allow me to explain what I mean.

After back-to-back years of 8-8 ball, it's fair to have greater expectations and believe we'll be better year-in/year-out as fans.  The reality is this isn't so easy to accomplish.  Every fan base has this expectation (except for the Lions, of course) that their team is good enough to compete.  So we get excited and hopeful.  Gary Kubiak should also have these expectations, especially from a younger team.

Where we have failed is recognizing that our talent is still simply not there.  Talent acquisition is, sadly, a prolonged process.  The team Kubiak and Rick Smith inherited was almost completely devoid of NFL-quality talent.  Not only do I believe we need time to build and diversify our talent base, I'm not convinced we are adequately addressing our weaknesses.

Now, this isn't to say we aren't trying, but it is clear we have serious holes throughout our starting 22 and depth problems everywhere except for TE and WLB (which needs a real quality starter).

Here's an example:  Our offensive line has become a true weakness thanks in part to injuries, but also due to the lack of talent here.  Duane Brown and Eric Winston have been decent but beatable.  Our G and C play has been absolutely atrocious this year, even before injuries took down Chester Pitts and Mike Brisiel.

In other words, if we aren't winning the most basic, in-the-trenches battles, how can we possibly expect to win games?

Then, of course, are our expectations of FAIL.  The team, at least.  I had hoped the Miami game last year moved us beyond this.  Or even the first BE-SF game this year.  Especially in the second game against the Colts, you could see our body language change in the fourth quarter.  We played down to our expectations, and it was depressing.  If the Colts were in this position, there's no way they'd be hanging their heads in the same situation.

Obviously, part of the problem is Kubiak.  I don't believe the team is under-prepared as much as poorly managed, both from a personnel and in-game perspective.  But the lack of quality personnel is still the primary issue.  However, Kubiak has got to do a better job in getting this team to play a full 60 minute game.  The closest we've come to this was against the Bengals and somewhat versus the Bills.  This is not acceptable.

Do I believe we need to fire Kubiak?  I don't know.  The offense especially is built around Kubiak's offensive style.  The simple fact he believes Chris Brown is a legitimate goal-line back is an indictment of his ability to build a roster.  Kubiak needs a more firm hand, and a better grip, of building his roster to meet his needs.  At the same time, he has improved his in-game skills from last year (did somebody finally buy him Madden?).

Here's what I would like to see from a purely coaching standpoint:

  • Replace Bill Kollar (defensive line coach), Frank Bush, or both.  I'm not sure who thought either of these guys would be a solution, but they clearly are not.  When a Bills fan is taunting you about Kollar, you damn well know something is wrong.
  • Joe Marciano, special teams coach, should clearly go away.  Not only do we make copious amounts of penalties, but he's managed to turn Andre Davis into a tip-toer on returns.
  • And we give Kubiak one.  More.  Year.  That's it.  No mas.

Again, I simply do not think we have the talent, on a personnel basis, to compete today.  When you throw in the tremendous number of injuries to key elements of the team (Chester Pitts, Mike Brisiel, Owen Daniels, Antwaun Molden, Steve Slaton, Glover Quin, Eugene Wilson), we are going to be in trouble.  Injuries are exacerbated by our obvious lack of depth, a problem that cannot be fixed in just one, two, or even three years.  This is about expectations, and thoughts that we were a 12-4 team were optimistic and obviously misplaced.  With a few breaks, was this possible?  Chris Brown says "yes."  We are, however probably better than 5-7 as well.

At this point, I don't see firing Kubiak as the answer.  We need to let our current crop of rookies age just one more year, and another year of drafting will be helpful.  This team was a massive sack of shit when Smithiak took over, and we have seen improvement.  We all hoped the consolidation phase was over, but it was not.  I think they deserve one more year to prove themselves incapable.