Terrell Owens is mostly misunderstood. The common perception is that he is a malcontent who divides locker rooms. Every story about Owens mentions his difficulties in San Francisco, Baltimore (the 5 and 1/2 minutes he was a Raven), Philadelphia, and Dallas. It is also presumed that he had difficulties in Buffalo as they have not expressed any interest in resigning the veteran. I believe he is a narcissist who equally loves and hates the media attention bestowed upon him.
While with the Dallas Cowboys, he was highly productive as a wide receiver and as a headliner. The problem with that is he was too willing to speak when “no comment” would suffice. Recently Owens has blamed the media and ESPN for his difficulties in finding a new team. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to Cowboys fans. Dislike Roy Williams with all your heart, but he accepts personal responsibility for his difficulties on the field. Owens is either oblivious to his short comings or he simply refuses to acknowledge that he is a veteran wide receiver who has lost a step. I believe he is oblivious. He cannot connect the erosion of his physical skills to a lack of production. In 2009 with Buffalo, he had 55 receptions for 829 yards. The statistics on their own are not overly impressive; however, in the context of the dearth of talent at quarterback, it is nearly astonishing.
How many Buffalo games were worth watching in 2009? The Bills won six games, but they wins were against bottom feeder teams like Carolina and Tampa Bay (with two wins against solid divisional opponents and one against the Colts while they were resting their players). The games I did watch, Owens was a non-factor. I’d like to definitively say that Owens isn’t signed because his receptions in 2009 could have been made by any wide receiver on the Bills team, but the fact of the matter is I do not know because I did not care to watch.
Those who do care enough to watch are NFL personnel guys. These talent evaluators have every decision analyzed by the media and the public. Their livelihood is at stake every year. If they are fired, they may find a new home, but most professional people will tell you that relocating your family and saying goodbye to friends, schools, churches, and even grocery stores is a situation they wish to involve themselves. They don’t listen to ESPN or TMZ. They don’t listen to gossip or rumors. They look at film. If Owens appears to be competent on film, they continue their due diligence and contact the former teams.
As previously indicated, I’m ignorant about 2009, but I am fully aware of what I saw in 2008. Owens was a wide receiver who was no longer able to separate from mid-level corners, he no longer commanded double teams, he had difficulty getting off press-coverage, he had difficulty focusing on catching the ball which translated into drops, he demanded the ball despite not having the commensurate production, and he simply did not know how to say no comment.
I agreed with Owens that the wide receivers were not being utilized in the Cowboys 2008 offense. Reports suggest that Roy Williams ran the same 15 yard comeback every play, Crayton had limited plays of consequence, and the balls being forced to Owens generally sailed over his head as he was well covered. According to Bill Parcells, you do not want your best offensive threat to be a tight end as it allows for the defense to congest running lanes while still allowing a defense to focus on tight end coverage. It’s not that Owens was wrong, but he certainly did not accept that the difficulties were not with play calling, but rather his own doing.
Will Owens find a home in 2010. Certainly. Some team will make a desperate effort to fill a team with names in an effort to fill seats with fans. Owens may be more productive in 2010 than he was in 2009, but it does not mean that Sam Hurd (or any other mid-level WR in the league) in that same role would not have been equally productive.