Dave Caldwell was very bad at his job.
He was not good at some of it. He was not good at one or two things. He was very bad at everything. He was the worst general manager this franchise has ever known and arguably the worst at his position throughout the league.
And it’s okay to be happy he’s been fired.
The bread and butter of any general manager in the NFL is two-fold: franchise quarterbacks and first round draft picks. If you don’t do either one of those well, your football team will struggle.
Dave Caldwell failed at both.
We should have seen this coming. In his first NFL Draft as a young general manager, Caldwell picked Luke Joeckel, a big, strong offensive tackle out of Texas A&M with the second overall pick. It was considered a safe pick — both he and Eric Fisher were considered 1a and 1b throughout the entire pre-draft process.
But in hindsight why were we celebrating a low-risk, low-reward inaugural move for our general manager? Playmakers like Eric Reid, DeAndre Hopkins, or Xavier Rhodes could have infused this team with much-needed talent at premium positions. Picking an offensive tackle so high was like checking to the river. Heck, even Lane Johnson is still playing games in 2020.
First round success is more important than hitting on every other round in the draft combined. You can be great at Day 2 and Day 3 picks, but if your first rounders are a bust it’ll leave your team mediocre at best.
And no one was worse than Caldwell.
2013: Luke Joeckel — Out of the league by 2017.
2014: Blake Bortles — Buddy...
2015: Dante Fowler — Declined his fifth-year option, traded after four seasons.
2016: Jalen Ramsey — Passed on by Dallas, traded after three seasons.
2017: Leonard Fournette — Picked over Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, cut after three seasons.
2018: Taven Bryan — Benched after two seasons.
2019: Josh Allen — Regressed after solid rookie season.
2020: C.J. Henderson and K’Lavon Chaisson — Jury is still out, but it doesn’t look good.
While Caldwell did hit on some later round picks, only six earned a second contract — Marqise Lee, Brandon Linder, Telvin Smith, Myles Jack, A.J. Cann, and Ben Koyack.
In short, he’s traded away every first round pick he could and been able to re-sign only two good players to second contracts in nearly eight seasons as a general manager.
I won’t go to deeply into Caldwell’s abysmal track record of evaluating the quarterback position other to say it has sunk this team from obscure mediocrity to an absolute embarrassment. Sinking four years of your tenure into Blake Bortles is bad enough — betting on him over drafting Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, and Lamar Jackson is even worse. Handing Nick Foles the keys to the castle somehow proved there is something deeper than rock bottom. And putting the scraps of your reputation solely on the shoulders of a sixth round quarterback, despite the promise he showed in his rookie season, is malpractice. Why not sign Ryan Fitzpatrick? Or Cam Newton? Or some serviceable quarterback to help bridge the gap?
Is this an attractive job for a potential general manager candidate? Absolutely. The salary cap is fake, you have a young nucleus that is talented (albeit small), and a war chest of draft capital in one of the best looking quarterback drafts since 2017.
But it will take a Herculean effort to bring this franchise into contention in the next year or two.
And that’s all thanks to Dave Caldwell.