The Schein Nine  

 

Robert Griffin III, Sean Payton head guys who need a fresh start

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As we head into a brand new year, it's time to identify those NFL individuals who need a brand new start.

Call it The Schein Nine: New Year's Edition!

Here's our annual list of the players and coaches who really could use a change of scenery in 2016:

1) Robert Griffin III

Remember him?

To his credit, RGIII hasn't been a distraction while Kirk Cousins has provided the likeability, stability, availability and overall ability Griffin couldn't over the last few years. It was over for RGIII the minute Jay Gruden rightly benched him this summer. Gruden and Scot McCloughan won the battle with ownership. Dan Snyder (finally) listened to his football people -- and the Redskins won a division title as a result. Now, Cousins needs to get paid on a long-term deal in Washington.

Meanwhile, Griffin needs to go somewhere else to rebuild his confidence, whether it is a situation to compete for a job (Philly?) or learn from a coach who isn't afraid to develop big-name backups (K.C.?) or be the name and No. 2 that a high-profile team craves (Dallas?).

2) Sean Payton

Payton won a Super Bowl and helped reinvigorate a city after Hurricane Katrina. That cannot be diminished. But it's time for a change. The run is over. The Saints are trending in the wrong direction and will finish under .500. Again.

There's talk of Payton ending up with the Giants, but I'm not sure if that's a fit. Trade him to either the Dolphins or Chargers. And don't hold them up for compensation. Make it quick, so you can move on, too.

Payton was a dominant and important figure in Saints history. And even with Bountygate, fans should stress the positive of what he accomplished -- making the Saints a consistent winner and an offensive juggernaut and, quite frankly, a must-see show. But change benefits everyone.

3) Jason Pierre-Paul

Yes, Pierre-Paul made this list last year, too. I would've let the defensive end walk last March. General manager Jerry Reese, who's been sub-par when it comes to making free agency and draft decisions over the last four years, applied the franchise tag to him. And then JPP played with fireworks on the Fourth of July. The reckless behavior cost Pierre-Paul part of his hand and a portion of the 2015 season.

Now, playing with a club on his right hand, Pierre-Paul's not the same player, having logged just one sack in seven games. And JPP's purported domination was a myth in the prior three seasons anyway -- he racked up meaningless sacks when the 2014 Giants were long out of it. Honestly, I can't remember this guy making a big play since Big Blue's last Super Bowl triumph.

The Giants need to cut bait with Pierre-Paul. And maybe a new start elsewhere will kick-start JPP's motor again.

4) Matt Forte

I'm a huge Forte fan, but with rookie back Jeremy Langford proving to be capable as a runner, receiver and blocker, it's time for the eighth-year veteran to take his services somewhere else.

Forte has been a really good (and criminally underrated) player for a while. But now, not only is Forte's replacement in-house, but Forte's going to be a free agent, and he's getting up there in age (30). Strong run in Chicago, but the new brass doesn't have a deep history with him. And wouldn't it be great to see Forte catch on with a true contender?

5) Mario Williams

It's well-documented that I loathed the Rex Ryan hiring in Buffalo. I thought he'd have a negative impact on the Bills. Seeing how this season has played out, would you say I was wrong? Buffalo has plummeted from No. 4 in total defense last season to No. 20 in 2015, from No. 1 in sacks to No. 31. Dropping Williams back in coverage was foolish. He logged a career-high 14.5 sacks in 2014. This year? Four.

On Wednesday, the Bills announced that Rex is coming back in 2016. Thus, Williams needs to go. The pair will never get on the same page. And Williams hasn't been professional about keeping his gripes in house. A change would benefit everyone, especially if Williams won't take a pay cut.

(UPDATE: On Thursday afternoon, The Associated Press reported that Buffalo plans to cut Mario Williams in the offseason.)

6) Colin Kaepernick

What a fall from grace, from Super Bowl quarterback in Year 2 to getting benched for Blaine Gabbert in Year 5. Even as I type that, I shake my head.

Kaepernick needs to get out of San Francisco and get a fresh start. He needs to get back his name and game. He also needs to act like more of a professional and a leader. This guy has rare physical tools, no doubt, but he still needs to learn how to properly deploy them.

7) D.J. Hayden

When you're a former top-15 pick who gets benched in Year 3 for a dude plucked off waivers, that's a problem.

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When your defensive coordinator calls you out for your play and practice habits, that's a problem. When you consistently get burned for big gains, that's the biggest problem.

The Raiders' defensive backfield needs an overhaul for Oakland to take the next step. Hayden is a good place to start. And the physically gifted CB needs a wake-up call to set his career back on the right track.

8) Chuck Pagano

Pagano appears to be done in Indy. The writing's on the wall. A flawed roster, an injured star quarterback and a reportedly bad relationship with the general manager doomed him. (The fake-punt disaster against the Patriots wasn't his finest moment, either.)

Still, Pagano's a good man and a good leader of men. He should continue to be a coach -- as a defensive coordinator or head man -- in the NFL. Just not in Indy.

9) Eric Weddle

What the Chargers just did -- fining Weddle for watching his daughter perform at halftime -- was wrong. And flat-out sad.

Weddle has been a great player and a great guy in San Diego for a long time. He's a free agent at the end of the year. And seeing how San Diego placed Weddle on injured reserve Monday, you'll never see him wear a Chargers uniform again.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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