Gene Smith has ruined this team with not only bad drafting but also bad free agency signings. I
2009 draft: Eben Britton is playing horribly and should not see a 2nd contract with the team. Terrance Knighton has been inconsistent supposedly because of his weight problems but is now at a healthy weight and is neither stopping the run nor rushing the passer. Mike Thomas is nowhere to be seen. Rashad Jennings, when not injured, does a decent job at an unimportant position that's already filled with our one star player.
2009 free agency: this was a total waste. Instead of spending money on players we could have used long term, Gene "patched" with old farts like Tra Thomas and Torrey Holt, who were gone the next year. Ironically, we probably could have used Torrey... I can't remember if it was 09 or 10 that Kyle Vanden Bosch became a free agent but money would have been well spent on him, since we only mustered 14 sacks that year.
2010 draft: This is where Gene really screwed up in my opinion. Not a single good player. Alualu is a bust. I don't care about his knee, he's NEVER looked like a good D-lineman. Wasn't he supposed to be a pass rushing tackle? He's failed to do that and the pundits who labeled him a reach were right. The base hit philosophy really bugs me in regards to Alualu and Gabbert because there were home runs available: JPP is the obvious one. What about Ponder and Dalton? Do they only look better because of their supporting cast? I'm not convinced. Anyway... the draft. D'Anthony Smith? Not a contributor. Austen Lane? Good in camp (like Derrick Harvey) but consequently overrated and then bad on the field. Everyone else from that draft is GONE already. What a waste of a draft.
2010 free agency: Aaron Kampman was a total bust. Why didn't Gene go after Julius Peppers? We've needed a DE for years and all he could muster was a 30 year old IR patient. Money was also wasted on Kassim Osgood when we already had plenty of stars on ST. Neither he nor Kampman are with the team.
2011 draft: Blaine Gabbert is not inspiring confidence no matter who is on the field with him or who's coaching him. When you pick a guy top 10, you're not picking a game manager. You're picking a game changer. Somebody needs to let Gene know that. (once again, base hit philosophy is stupid inside the top 10. picking there should be a no-brainer amazing pick, not a "Safe" one) Will Rackley has only ever played poorly. If he shouldn't have bee nplaying while he developed, you should have gotten some other o-linemen, Gene. Shorts has contributed in big ways recently and might be the lone star of this class, but he'll have to show consistency first. Issac and Prosinski were a waste.
2011 free agency: ATTENTION. GENE SMITH FAILED AS A GM IN THIS FREE AGENCY PERIOD. DO NOT LISTEN TO WHAT ANYONE SAYS. Why spend so much money on linebackers in a 4-3????? Why not FINALLY get that DE we've been needing and ignoring for years? Was it because Austen Lane and Larry Hart were gonna be so good? Because Kampman was gonna be so healthy and get double digit sacks? NO NO NO. Sign Jason Babin, you fool! Sign Ray Edwards! Sign SOMEBODY. But don't spend money on the least important players on that side of the ball. Poz is great, but I would have loved the money to go to someone else. Matt Roth?? John Chick?? Patches. Get the fix we need. The Texans fixed their defense with great coaches and smart signings, so well in fact that they were able to do without two very good players in Mario Williams and Demeco Ryans. Our defense improved in '11 but still fell short in stats like points allowed (which is what really counts for a defense, right?) and turnovers. Now that we're into the 2nd season of the revamped Tucker defense, it has failed to show consistency, while the Texans' has only gotten better. You fail, Gene. You fail.
2012 draft: Brian Anger. While I'd like to just leave it at that (because that was a TERRIBLE draft move), there's more to say here: after the 2012 draft, it became clear to me that Gene is adept at using up picks very quickly and somewhat wastefully (ironic, considering that he always picks "safe base-hits"). He spent a 1st and a 2nd on Gabbert, a 3rd and a 7th on Rackley, a 3rd and a 2nd on Derek Cox/Terrance Knighton (they handed the picks in together so it's not clear who they really traded for), and a 1st and a 4th on Blackmon. When you're rebuilding, should you really be picking so few players with so many picks? It has clearly not paid off.
2012 free agency: MARIO WILLIAMS. VINCENT JACKSON. THEY FULFILL NEEDS. At least TRY to get somebody good, Gene! Or were you saving salary cap space so you could resign guys like Britton and Knighton at the end of this season? Oh yeah and thanks for wasting cap space on Thomas' contract extension the year before. You really had opportunity here and you scraped the bottom of the barrel. Laurent Robinson and Aaron Ross have been disappointing so far. Our interior o-line could have used Carl Nicks too. As for re-signing our own, Mincey was needed because of past mistakes at the DE position. Better drafting and FA signings and we wouldn't have needed him. His sack count last year was inflated because of playing bad teams (notably the Colts against whom he had 5 sacks) but we still overpaid him and he has since disappeared on the field.
There are some problems coming up this off-season. Rashean Mathis' contract will end and we'll be thin at cornerback. The depth on the O-line will need to be addressed. Our perennial questions at defensive end will be raised. Our star running back will have one year left on his contract and once again might not be happy to be carrying the entire team on such a low salary.
How can someone who is such a bad talent evaluator and draft/free agent/contract maneuverer be expected to address these persistent issues? how can they produce a winning season? How can they be expected to hire good scouts and, most importantly, a good coaching staff? We're in trouble if our 3rd coach in franchise history is a pick of a guy who's whiffed big time each and every year for four years. We're in trouble if we have four top 10 picks on the field and we're headed towards getting another one.
Let's hope someone else chooses that one for us.