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Who's calling the shots?

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Successful NFL front offices are only as good as their personnel decision makers. There are many different ways to structure a front office, and Scouts Inc. has attempted to dissect the power structureall 32 teams. The following breakdown takes you ...

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Old 04-25-2006, 05:15 PM   #1
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Who's calling the shots?

Successful NFL front offices are only as good as their personnel decision makers. There are many different ways to structure a front office, and Scouts Inc. has attempted to dissect the power structureall 32 teams.

The following breakdown takes you inside each NFC team's personnel department, examining differing philosophies and the process in which each final personnel decision is made.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys:
Jerry Jones: Owner/president/general manager
Bill Parcells: Head coach
Although Jerry Jones has a sizable ego, he deflects much of the final say on personnel matters to head coach Bill Parcells. But make no mistake, this is a two-man operation in Dallas. These are two strong-willed individuals who seem to respect one another in their quest to build a winner. Parcells knows exactly what he is looking for and makes clear to his scouts what he wants, as they act as information gatherers.
Chief operating officer/executive vice president Stephen Jones does a fine job with the Cowboys' salary cap and negotiations. Although players with character issues do not scare off this group, the Cowboys' rarely stray from Parcells' plan to build a roster of dependable, tough players who put the team ahead of themselves.

New York Giants
Ernie Accorsi: Senior vice president/general manager
Jerry Reese: Director of player personnel
Tom Coughlin: Head coach
Ernie Accorsi is a long-time veteran of the NFL personnel wars and is the top decision maker for the Giants. Accorsi is a big-picture guy who absolutely never deviates from the Giants' way of doing things. He has a loyal veteran scouting staff that understands New York's philosophy, and Accorsi trusts and listens to this group.
Some in the organization feel this will be Accorsi's last year running the draft, and that he eventually will give way to director of player personnel Jerry Reese. Reese has spent much of his focus the past two years on evaluating college players and will play a bigger role this season on draft day. Head coach Tom Coughlin also has quite a bit of power, but in the end, he gives way to the Accorsi-Reese combo. The Giants will not take character risks, and once they set their board, they do not waver or worry about outside opinions. They also are well known for their psychological tests. This is not an organization that takes a lot of chances.

Philadelphia Eagles:
Andy Reid: Head coach/executive vice president of football operations
Tom Heckert: General Manager
Andy Reid has the final say on all personnel matters and every decision concerning his team. He takes input from many sources and respects others' opinions while having an excellent feel for the pulse of the Eagles' organization and his players. Reid has a strong relationship with GM Tom Heckert and delegates a great deal of the responsibility to him.
Both Reid and Heckert watch a lot of film and have an eye for spotting talent that can improve the Eagles' roster. Heckert is totally trusted by Reid and is counted on to organize the scouts and supply Reid with all the information needed to make sound decisions. Even though Reid has final say, he trusts Heckert to the point where he will not go against him if Heckert is opposed to making a draft selection. In general, they will not select players unless all the key people in the organization are on the same page. This is why they have been able to do a solid job of developing their young talent. They rarely deviate from their plan and have had much success.

Washington Redskins
Vinny Cerrato: Vice president of football operations
Joe Gibbs: Head coach/team president
Every decision of consequence in the Redskins' organization goes through owner Daniel Snyder. He is not a football guy, nor does he watch tape or attend workouts, so Snyder leans heavily on Vinny Cerrato to keep him informed. Cerrato is Snyder's mouthpiece for the organization and watches quite a bit of tape while organizing the scouting staff.
Although he doesn't flaunt it, head coach Joe Gibbs has an awful lot of juice with personnel decisions and usually gets the type of player he wants for his schemes. His power might be growing. Washington's scouts are grinders who don't have a lot of pull with decision making. No organization works the phones as much as the Redskins on draft day. This is an aggressive front office that will move up and down the board.

NFC North

Chicago Bears
Jerry Angelo: General manager
Ted Phillips: President and CEO
Lovie Smith: Head coach
GM Jerry Angelo runs the show without opposition in Chicago and has done an excellent job of late. Angelo loves to travel to schools, attend workouts and watch tape and is a real football guy. Angelo listens to the members of his staff but prefers to see the players first-hand. President and CEO Ted Phillips respects Angelo and doesn't interfere with his authority. Head coach Lovie Smith and his coaching staff have a say, and Angelo values their opinions, as well those of director of college scouting Greg Gabriel and director of pro personnel Bobby DePaul, who are all very loyal to him. This is a solid front office, but it enters the draft with some controversy. The team has opted not to extend the contract of Smith. Due to that, it may undermine how much say he will have come draft day.

Detroit Lions
Matt Millen: President and chief executive officer
Rod Marinelli: Head coach
Although Matt Millen has been criticized a great deal, he is still totally in charge of the Lions' front office, and owner William Clay Ford still trusts Millen. This front office does not have a prominent true personnel guy at the top of the organization, and it could be in the market for an up-and-comer with extensive scouting experience to help feed Millen information.
This is an average scouting department with no real players. Therefore, Millen has nobody he can lean on. This leads to Millen making decisions when he lacks the expertise to make the proper call. Ford would be very wise to give new head coach Rod Marinelli and his staff a lot of leeway in acquiring the players they want come draft day. Executive vice president/chief operating officer Tom Lewand handles the salary cap and all negotiations, but this is certainly Millen's show, despite what a lot of fans would like.

Green Bay Packers:
Ted Thompson: Executive vice president/general manager/director of football operations
Mike McCarthy: Head coach
Green Bay has a very unusual front office with a lot of clashing egos and people with big titles. Ted Thompson has absolute power. He is a Ron Wolf disciple and a real football guy, going to workouts, spending time on the road and watching a lot of tape. New head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff will have little input on personnel matters. Thompson is solid and doesn't have a huge ego, but the next tier down in Green Bay has some clashing personalities that cause problems in the chain of command.

Minnesota Vikings:
Zygi Wilf: Owner/chairman
Fran Foley: Vice president of player personnel
Rob Brzezinski: Vice president of football operations
Brad Childress: Head coach
Obviously, there has been a lot of change in the Vikings' organization. Fran Foley was hired recently as vice president of player personnel to be new coach Brad Childress' right-hand man and to oversee both the college and pro departments. This probably will be a group effort for the Vikings, with Childress having the most juice, but Foley and Rob Brzezinski also having a lot of say. Brzezinski is more involved with the salary cap and business side of the operation. These three will work together and present their decisions to owner Zygi Wilf, who will be active in day-to-day operations and big personnel decisions.
The Vikings have done a better job with their college scouting than on the pro side and have a strong group of veteran scouts whose opinions are trusted. Foley has more of a pro personnel background, so he would be wise to defer to college director Scott Studwell during the draft. Studwell has been on the road all fall, while Foley was doing pro personnel work with the Chargers. The Vikings will use a collaborative effort this season and see where they need to fine tune some things in the offseason.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons
Rich McKay: President/general manager
Jim Mora: Head coach
Rich McKay completely runs the show in Atlanta. McKay has the trust of owner Arthur Blank and also has a strong relationship with head coach Jim Mora. McKay doesn't pound the tape as much as some decision makers around the league, but he does a nice job of gathering information from his scouting staff.
Mora has some pull as well, and McKay trusts his judgment. Due to McKay's ego, there have been some defections from this organization in recent years that have hindered its draft process. One problem with this front office is that McKay is very involved with league matters, and the Falcons do not have someone with power to run the day-to-day responsibilities of the front office.

Carolina Panthers:
Marty Hurney: General manager
John Fox: Head coach
Tony Softli: Director of college scouting
The Panthers' front office doesn't get the publicity it deserves. This group is clearly among the top front offices in the league. GM Marty Hurney runs the show and does it all. Hurney has a strong understanding of the salary cap, watches a lot of film and oversees the area scouts. Head coach John Fox works hard with personnel and has a great deal of say, as well.
Fox and Hurney[

b]New Orleans Saints
Mickey Loomis: General manager
Sean Payton: Head coach
Rick Mueller: Director of player personnel
Rick Reiprish: Director of college scouting
Even before the hardship of the last year, this front office has been a model of inconsistency. Now the Saints have a new head coach, and the coaches' roles are not well defined. GM Mickey Loomis is the top guy, but he is more of a business and cap guy, instead of a true scout. Loomis leans on director of player personnel Rick Mueller to run the scouting operations and set the draft board.
The Saints' director of college scouting, Rick Reiprish, is very organized and meticulous and contributes a great deal, as well. This is a hodge-podge front office that lacks true leadership and direction. There are too many holdovers from old regimes that are working with members of a new regime. At some point, owner Tom Benson may have to blow this group up and start from scratch. [/b] get along quite well and respect each other. The rest of the coaching staff is involved and works hard. Director of college scouting Tony Softli is an up-and-comer with a bright future. He is well organized and does an excellent job of getting the most out of his college department. This is a close-knit group that enjoys working together, and that has paid dividends for the organization on draft day.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bruce Allen: General manager
Jon Gruden: Head coach
Ruston Webster: Director of player personnel
Tampa Bay has a very solid front office, and general manager Bruce Allen and head coach Jon Gruden have an excellent working relationship. These two have been on the same page from their days together in Oakland, and Tampa Bay's on-field success can be greatly attributed to their relationship. Allen is perhaps the top salary-cap guy in the league, outstanding with the business end of things and has a great feel for the pulse of the league.
Gruden, of course, is a film rat who attacks personnel like he coaches, with fire and emotion. Gruden makes all the final decisions with help from director of player personnel Ruston Webster. However, it will be intriguing to see how much input Webster has in this draft. There is rampant speculation that he will be leaving after the draft to take a similar post with long-time mentor Tim Ruskell in Seattle. Nevertheless, the Bucs have done a solid job of upgrading their college scouting department in recent years with the addition of consultant Jim Gruden (John's father) and two new area scouts, Brian Gardner and Jim Abrams.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals
Dennis Green: Head coach
Rod Graves: Vice president of football operations
Dennis Green is the top guy in Arizona and more involved with personnel decisions than most head coaches around the league. Green is very aggressive with his roster moves, which is in direct contrast to chairman and president William Bidwell's past philosophy. Green knows exactly what he wants and does everything possible to get his guys.
Rod Graves is the No. 2 guy for the Cardinals. He has very little ego, defers to Green and wears many hats within the front office, including organizing the scouts. Green trusts his coaching staff a great deal and also collects information from outside the organization to get opinions from several angles.

The Cardinals' scouts have very little say in the early rounds, but Green and Graves will utilize them more in the later rounds. Top scout Steve Keim is the man who has the most influence with Green and Graves and the one scout whom they tend to rely on in the later rounds and in the selection of undrafted free agents.

San Francisco 49ers
Mike Nolan: Head coach
Scott McCloughan: Vice president of player personnel
Lal Heneghan: Executive vice president of football operations
Paraag Marathe: Director of football operations
Head coach Mike Nolan is the top decision maker in what was the most dysfunctional front office in the NFL before his arrival. This group is improving -- especially after the hiring this week of Lal Heneghan, who worked for the Cleveland Browns from 1998-2004 -- and last year's draft was a step in the right direction, but there are still problems. Scott McCloughan is second to Nolan, but he doesn't have the power that his title would indicate. McCloughan seemed to be in over his head in terms of running and managing his department, but that's where the hiring of Heneghan should help.
The other person in the front office with pull on draft day is Paraag Marathe. He isn't a football guy and has a "Moneyball" approach to building a team, with a heavy emphasis on statistics. He is close with the York family and has way more power than he deserves. Owner John York also gets involved, but overall his front office lacks experience and continuity.

Seattle Seahawks:
Tim Ruskell: President of football operations
Mike Reinfeldt: Vice president of football administration
Mike Holmgren: Head coach
Tim Ruskell has done a great job since taking over in Seattle. He works well with head coach Mike Holmgren, is tough-minded and very well organized. Mike Reinfeldt does an exceptional job with Seattle's salary cap and with its big-named players, as he is constantly fitting big pieces into the puzzle.
The coaching and scouting staffs are loyal to Holmgren, Ruskell and the philosophy of the organization. They offer some input, and their opinions are listened to, but Ruskell makes the final decision with input from Holmgren. Clearly this front office has been successful. Expect more of the same in the foreseeable future.

St. Louis Rams
Charley Armey: General manager
Jay Zygmunt: President/football operations
Lawrence McCutcheon: Director of player personnel
Scott Linehan: Head coach
Much has changed in St. Louis since the end of the regular season, and more change could be in store after the 2006 draft, when GM Charley Armey is expected to retire. Jay Zygmunt is an excellent salary cap guy who makes the final decisions in St. Louis. He has a good feel for the entire league and sees the big picture. Much like Zygmunt, Armey also is a big-picture guy who handled more day-to-day operations and organization than Zygmunt.
The biggest issue with Armey and Zygmunt is that they are not real grinders in terms of pounding the tape. With Armey likely to leave, the Rams may promote director of player personnel Lawrence McCutcheon, who is worthy of the promotion. He is a road scout and more of a football guy than Zygmunt or Armey. Unlike former head coach Mike Martz, who had a big ego and a lot of say in final decisions, Zygmunt and Armey would be well served to give McCutcheon the leeway to run this draft the way he sees fit. Of all the people in the Rams' organization, he is the man most fit to make the final calls on player selection. Head coach Scott Linehan and the rest of the new coaching staff are unlikely to contribute a great deal this year.

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