GM’s and HC’s Team Up For Groceries


ESPN added a couple of interesting new shows and concepts to supplement their pre-draft buildup to Thursday’s big night in Chicago.  One of the shows featured three former NFL general managers talking through their thoughts on the top of the draft.

The long-term success of Bill Polian’s tenure with the Bills, Panthers and Colts, combined with former Browns GM Phil Savage and former Bucs’ GM Mark Dominik giving their insights to how things had gone in the past for them and the weight of dealing with the #1 overall pick, as well as choosing between two good QB’s highlighted the show.

Another nice feature kept Dominik and Savage on set, posing as Tennessee’s GM Ruston Webster and Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt (holders of the second pick of the draft), as the rest of the crew played other key Titans’ decision makers and created a mock draft situation complete with countdown clock and multiple trade scenarios.  Dominik and crew confronted numerous options and offers in just a few minutes, as he continued to ask his head coach if he was good with the decision as they pondered trading for Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers and a first round pick.  When that option fell through, as they hung tough on needing next year’s #1 pick from San Diego, they ultimately opted to stick with their own slot and took Marcus Mariota with the second pick.

Once upon a time, the NFL Combine was top-secret stuff.  Everything was behind closed doors and hidden.  Now it is big business.  Back in the day, the draft war room was also sacred space, not to be infiltrated by cameras, but that too has gone the way of the wishbone offense.  For the current generation, growing up on PlayStation and getting behind this kind of behind the scenes action may be mundane, but it’s really graduate level football information!

Every team or organization has its own power structure for picking players in the draft and through free agency, with some of the more powerful head coaches getting full control.

Bill Parcells famously lamented, “They want you to cook the dinner, at least they should let you shop for some of the groceries.”

This is from the time when the thinking was more on the side of the GM picks the players and the coach coaches those players, but certain teams have systems that certain players just fit better, even though they might not have quite as high a draft grade.  GM’s and head coaches that can work together like they would like their team on the field to do, should bring the best result for the team, but there always has to be someone to make the final call and that usually falls to the general manager.

Although the GM and head coach working together makes the most sense, it doesn’t always equate to success.

The Buccaneers own 2015’s hallowed first pick and it seems GM Jason Licht and Head Coach Lovie Smith have that symbiotic relationship to come to mutually agreeable solutions, although they missed horribly on all of their 2014 significant free agents.

In Buccaneers history, Jon Gruden did not get along with Rich McKay very well when they combined to win the only Super Bowl in team history over a decade ago and even though McKay moved on to the Atlanta Falcons and Gruden got to hand-pick his good friend from the Oakland Raiders Bruce Allen, they never got close to a championship.

Licht and Smith hit it big with last year’s top pick WR Mike Evans and they desparately need to do it again with a QB this time.  All signs point to the fact that they have been on the same page for months and we can all expect them to be wearing identically huge grins when they submit their slip with Jameis Winston’s name on it.

Time will tell if the Winston pick will have then lauded or fired.

About Jeff Carlson

Jeff Carlson

Former NFL quarterback, training youth QB's in Tampa, Florida. Football Analyst for Bright House Sports Network and Football Insiders.