Reno Mahe....Sorry, I Mean Reno F@%#ing Mahe
Ok, two muffed punt returns on Sunday were an obvious factor in the Birds' opening day, humiliating loss to the lowly Packers....that much we can say at this point. Of course, there are other factors such as McNabb's hesitant ball release and our pourous, ineffective O-line, but for now, let's focus on those special team muffs.
In answering up for the punt returning problems, Reid again pulled out his tape recorder and hit the play button to give a patented pre-recorded response: "Obviously we made too many mistakes. I'll take the blame for that, in particular in the punt return game," Reid said. "It's my responsibility to put guys back there than can do a better job and so that's again my responsibility and my problem." Yes, we've heard this all before. I wonder whether he really believed that Greg Lewis would be a good punt returner? If that's the case, we should all be more worried than I am right now about this team. I bet it has something to do with the salary cap than talent.
Everyone is painfully aware how lacking our special teams skills are, and have been for years. Despite Andy's unwillingness to accept it, a ground game (which includes punt and kickoff returns in my opinion) counts just as much as, and probably more than, passing does. Andy has NEVER had a commitment to a ground game and the Birds have paid a dear price for that ignorance. Westbrook is the only dynamic player we have, and he can't do everything.
But not to worry, Andy's going to "fix it". Queue our favortite busboy, RENO MAHE...
I am stunned that the Birds are even considering this again. Yes, I really dislike Mahe...but um, am I the only person to see that he has no business playing in the NFL? (I said the same thing about Pinkston for years before they finally cut him. Who is Pinky playing for these days? Did Reno get picked up by anyone or even looked at for that matter?).
I hear Reno is a swell guy and a "locker room favorite". That's great. Make him team co-ambassador with Hugh Douglas for all I care. Just don't let him wear the uniform again and handle the football.
But wait, what about the stats? I'm sure there are people out there clamoring about his stats...ok, let's talk stats:
Yes, it is true that in 2005, Reno led the NFL with 12.8-yards punt-return average. In that year, though, he had only 21 returns, the lowest amount for any of the qualifying returners AND the Birds special team coverage in general was much better. His average dropped to 9.4 yards in 2006 when things hit the skids, which would have made him 13th in the league (he didn't have enough returns to qualify). All this talk about his put return stats is misdirected. Note that he averaged 22.2 yards per kickoff return, which ranked 26th in the league...and kickoff returns really highlight how slow a player is. And most importantly, it's the X-factor - the ability to break one. The actual threat alone is enough. But that will never, ever ever happen with Reno in there...breaking one is not even a remote possibility with him. I'm sorry but every NFL team has to have a guy back there who can break one if given the blocking. I need point no further than Westy's miraculous, season changing return against the Giants in 2003 to drive that point home. So, in summary, I hate Reno Mahe and bringing him back is just taking a step backward for this team. It's a signal that this team is not going anywhere this season and management seems OK with that.
Surely there must be somebody who is actually qualified to play in the NFL who can step into this role. And preferrably, Mormon.