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What Does A GM Do?

Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders has a very interesting and pertinent Walkthrough this week because he spoke with Charlie Casserly ex-GM of Houston and Washington.  There was something in the article that just spoke to me as a point of interest and something that the Rams need to change and what I hope they are going to change.  I will quote from Mike here:


1) An NFL general manager is just like a high-level executive in any business. He’s a chief of staff who must spend a huge portion of his time doing non-glamorous tasks like supervising his subordinates and processing data. First-round picks and major trades are just the tiny tip of a vast procedural iceberg.

2) It’s easy for a team to lose its way. When a coaching staff and front office have been in place for a few years, everybody knows everybody else’s needs and responsibilities. When a team keeps changing coaches or shuffling executives, it can lead to miscommunication and breakdowns. The Dolphins spent most of this decade trying to merge last year’s front office to next year’s coaching staff. The results: squandered draft picks, quarterback-of-the-month free agent signings, and other evidence that the scouts didn’t know what the coaches wanted, or vice versa…

Mike uses the Dolphins as an example, but he could have easily used the Rams for his bad example.  Because this is precisely where the Rams have lost their way since Mike Martz, John Shaw and Jay Zygmunt started a war over Rams Park.  The Rams were not getting good players because everyone was not on the same page about what type of player they wanted.  The Rams had three different people who had to agree on a signing and all other parts of the organization being told three different things by three different people in power.  No one in the Rams organization even knew what the Rams wanted.  It is surprising the Rams ever had a winning season with this poisonous situation.  The Rams did not even have their own scouting staff!  It’s amazing that their outsourced scouting staff knew what to look for in the players they scouted.  The result?  Bad draft picks and bad free agent pickups.  Hmm, that sounds familiar.


(more after the jump)This is the number one change that Billy Devaney needs to bring to the St. Louis Rams.  He needs to solidify the message about who the Rams want to employ and who the Rams can bring in.  Even more importantly, Devaney needs to find a coach that he can work with seamlessly and can work with to solidify the roster.  Another thing that Tanier mentions in his article is that a lot of the GM’s work is to fill out the roster where it is needed due to injury or ineffectiveness.  Devaney has so far excelled in this role and has found several players who can provide quality depth for the Rams for years to come.  Here’s one last quote from Mike Tanier, to bring it all together:

So when a Schottenheimer or Pioli is hired, we may think immediately about his track record, his boom-and-bust personnel moves, and other products of that exec’s last stop. We really should be thinking about the process: The new hire’s skills as a communicator, delegator, and time manager. We have no way of measuring these attributes, of course, but these invisible skills will determine what makes or breaks teams like the Browns and Chiefs

We, the common folks, looking into the window and trying to decipher what is going on inside the organizations have no idea which GMs are going to prosper and which are going to fail.  But, Billy Devaney has an advantage that he gets to pick the coach and most of the front office that he will work with best.  And once Mr. Devaney gets all of Rams Park on the same line of thinking, the Rams will return to the glory days.

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