On the POD homepage, Sean writes about an article in Pro Football Weekly that bashes the Lions, from an anonymous GM. I wanted to know who this douchebag hiding behind - as Schwartz put it so well - "the cloak of anonymity".
It just didn't sound like a division rival giving the Lions bulletin board material. The most likely out-of-division rival would be the 49ers. Think about it: only a team that is doing better than the Lions would do any rival-bashing in mid-season. I looked into it a bit more, and here's a Top Ten list of why I believe it to be the 49ers GM, Trent Baalke:
1. Baalke's team has bad blood with the Lions and can legitimately be considered a 'rival'
2. He and Harbaugh are close, and we know that Harbaugh is no fan of Schwartz.
<blockquote>The 49ers are banking on a strong relationship between Harbaugh and Baalke. The two became close during the lockout. They are also competitors on the racquetball court, where Harbaugh's competitive edge comes through.</blockquote>
3. Baalke was promoted from within the organization from being a former scout, and only became a GM before last season. It's the kind of interview comments an inexperienced GM would give.
4. He comments about Suh getting "pushed around in the run game." The Niners have exposed Suh's weakness in the run game better than any team, so it stands to reason that he would be one of the few GMs to have anything negative to say about Suh's play. This is the guy who drafted Navarro Bowman and Aldon Smith in successive drafts, so he could be expected to gloat.
5. Dan Arkush (executive editor of Pro Football Weekly) interviewed Baalke when he won the Pro Football Weekly Executive of the Year, and has written other gushing articles about him and the team:
<blockquote>Considering his team's tremendous transformation last season into a major force to reckon with, it comes as no surprise that Niners GM and PFW/PFWA Executive of the Year Trent Baalke is planning on the same kind of strategy that worked so well a year ago at this time.</blockquote>
6. As recently as yesterday, Arkush was quoting an anonymous "longtime team source"with the Niners, where it would make sense that it is the GM. Check out <a href="http://www.profootballweekly.com/2012/10/08/romans-play-calling-stokes-niners-offensive-firepo" >this article</a>.
7. Not convinced? Here's <a href="http://www.profootballweekly.com/story/permalink/34015" >another one</a> quoting a Niners source who sounds a lot like a former scout: <blockquote> “I wouldn’t be surprised if [Ahmad Brooks] ends up leading the team in sacks this year,” one team insider said. “There has always been talk that he could be a special Lawrence Taylor-type talent, a 270-pounder who can play like a 230-pounder and beat you on the edge with both his power and speed. He seems different, a lot more comfortable in his own skin.” </blockquote>
8. Now things get really interesting: Arkush is the son of Arthur Arkush, who started Pro Football Weekly in Chicago way back in 1967. His brother Hub has been there 31 years and worked for the Chicago Bears Radio Network from 1987-2004. Dan has worked at the publication's Chicago offices ever since 1975, with only a three-year break. Hmm...some Bears homerism a possibility here?
9. From Dan Arkush's bio on the Pro Football Weekly site: <blockquote> His current specialty is the NFC West and Bears and Packers from the NFC North, and his quick-hitting “A Bombs” are a regular feature in PFW’s print edition</blockquote>. Now why would you specialize in one entire division but only two teams in another division? Maybe because you don't like the other two teams or consider them irrelevant? Let's go to his Twitter account to have a look...
10. Since Sept. 9, on Twitter (@darkushpfw), Arkush has posted four very sympathetic tweets about the 49ers, and two negative tweets about the Lions.
It may not be a smoking gun that this was a Trent Baalke interview, but things sure do point in that direction. And to speak in a sympathetic way about Matt Millen? Hmmm...a former 49ers player, loathed by Lions fans everywhere, who has a weekly pulpit in San Fransisco now?
Would you be surprised to learn that Millen, sorry "He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named" was on the San Fransisco radio station 95.7 The Game just last Friday, heaping all kinds of praise on - guess who - Trent Baalke. And he specifically talks about it in the context of coming into the GM job with the right pieces to work with.
You can <a href="http://media.957thegame.com/a/64411101/matt-millen-shares-the-toughest-challenges-of-being-a-new-gm.htm" >listen here</a>, but I will warn you to have a barf bag ready. The relevant part starts at the 1:32 mark, includes statements about "having the right pieces" (just like the anonymous GM says in the article) and ends with MM saying "A good head coach can overcome a poor GM." <hurl>
I agree with others on POD who have said that the GM had some things right in his assessment. But it's kind of a low blow to pile on a team when it experiences struggles, and cowardly to not have the guts to identify yourself.
What do you make of all this?