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BGO Blind Pig: Washington gets their man!


The Commissioner
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Apr 11, 2009
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The guys huddle once again to discuss new GM Adam Peters, Eagle Scouts, collaborative alignment, Alpha Males, football IQ, and debate grizzled leader of men vs. young buck whiz kid Head Coach candidates. Barking dog cameo included for price of admission.

Here's the SI article we referenced about the process of landing Adam Peters:

The Commanders’ process moved fast. And, really, the wheels started turning a little over three weeks ago—when former Golden State Warriors GM Bob Myers, who’d gone to work as an advisor for Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, reached out to former Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman, and asked whether he’d come to Miami to meet with new Commanders owner Josh Harris. Spielman’s been living on Florida’s Gulf Coast and is in Fort Lauderdale every weekend for his work at CBS.

That made things easy on everyone. Spielman got there over the weekend of Week 16, and Harris told him that while no decision had been made on coach Ron Rivera or his front office, he wanted to be ready to roll if the Commanders did move on. He invited Spielman to join Myers on his search committee and, as soon as Spielman accepted, asked the old GM to start doing background work to find a head of football operations and head coach.

Two weeks later, the original list of 15 that Spielman worked off was whittled to five. Three days after that, 49ers assistant GM Adam Peters was aboard as new head of football ops.

The Commanders still have a ton of work to do, of course. That includes hiring a head coach. It also includes filling out both that coach’s staff, and Peters’s staff, making decisions on incumbents such as Martin Mayhew, and starting to build a reimagined football operation as Peters and his counterpart see fit.

But a big domino has fallen. Here’s how that part of this came together in D.C.

• Spielman’s work through the final two weeks of the season was done quietly. He made calls but didn’t tell folks who he was working for, gathering information discreetly. Then, the Monday after Week 18, once Harris let Rivera go, Spielman drove to Miami and got to work talking with folks such as former Arizona Cardinals GM and Fritz Pollard Alliance exec Rod Graves, former New York Giants GM Jerry Reese, former Jacksonville Jaguars exec Michael Huyghue and former Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert, all of whom worked in the league for decades, and attended last month’s accelerator program.

He was on the phone from 7:30 a.m. to about 11 p.m., checking every box on the five guys he’d identified, all of whom carried assistant GM titles: Peters, as well as Kansas City’s Mike Borgonzi, Cleveland’s Glenn Cook, Chicago’s Ian Cunningham, Philadelphia’s Alec Halaby.

• The first round of interviews happened at Harris’s offices in Miami. Each candidate spent two and a half hours with Spielman, then another two and a half hours with Harris and Myers. Borgonzi, Cook and Peters went Tuesday, in that order, then Cook and Halaby went Wednesday.

• The group then reconvened to pick two finalists, Peters and Cunningham, then met with three of Harris’s co-owners—Mitchell Rales, David Blitzer and Magic Johnson—to get a consensus and finalize those two as the leaders who’d get 90-minute second interviews Thursday morning.

• After that, the larger group met one last time to pick Peters. It was close between the final two, with Peters’s seven years of experience as a No. 2, and the success his 49ers have had serving as a tiebreaker. (Cunningham is in his second year as a top lieutenant, and while the Bears seem headed in the right direction, they’re not there yet.)

And, again, there’s still plenty to figure out. But the framework now is in place. The club is set up like Harris’s other pro teams, the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils, with a head of business (president Jason Wright) and head of football (Peters) reporting directly to the owner. The plan is for the coach to report to Peters, and finding that coach is obviously the next big priority (they’ve already interviewed Baltimore Ravens coaches Mike Macdonald and Anthony Weaver), with elements such as analytics and sports science left to be built out.

For now, it’s fair to say landing Peters is a big win. He’s been picky on taking interviews the past couple of years, and it so happened that just as he fit Washington (with Harris looking for an expert in personnel, and a guy who had knowledge in other areas, and was humble enough to know what he didn’t know and find experts in those areas to help him), Washington presented Peters with what he was looking for.

So six months in as an owner, Harris has made his biggest hire. And now, together, they’ll get to the hard part.
And for the record:


Just to clarify my comments about Ben Johnson’s UNC connections… didn’t intend to suggest there would be any hesitation to draft a QB because Johnson may know Howell extremely well and possibly grade him higher than others might. His knowledge of Sam could just as easily guarantee we go QB at #2.

But we do have a dilemma - because we don’t have a proven franchise QB caliber player on the roster. So the new HC will have a big role in helping to decide what we do at that spot. Based on current draft expectations (and yes, those could change before April) the 2nd best QB this year is Drake Maye. Having a coach who can either confirm that he is all that and a bag of chips, or that they should go on another direction (which yes - does include a remote possibility of sticking with Howell and trading down for a bevy of picks) would be a valuable asset.

Not the reason you go with Johnson at HC just an added plus if you do.
One thing that comes through in this interview is Rivera’s focus on ‘how he is viewed’. I think it’s very difficult to be an effective leader if you are overly concerned with your press and public perception. I’m not sure how much of a ‘leader’ Rivera actually was. Nice guy? Absolutely. Leader? Not by my definition.

Brother Om waxed poetically about Mike Vrabel on the pod. Al Galdi has a lengthy discussion about Vrabel with a Titans beat coverage guy on today’s podcast if anyone is interested.

I think Vrabel is a very good coach but I also think he is old school, with a reputation for being stubborn and probably not as open to innovative ideas or things like analytics as I would like. And that’s the only reason I prefer one of the younger guys. I think he would be a great fit for a team like Atlanta which itself has more of an old school identity.
Fair enough. What I was trying to convey was I really hoped we would at least interview Vrabel ... and that I was surprised and a little disappointed we hadn't heard any whispers that we might. Absolutely I recognize that the fit could not be right and would 100% hope that if that was the case there would be no second interview. :)

I've just watched Vrabel's teams approach the game with a style---defense, physical on both sides, disciplined, football smart---that speaks to my old school vision and love of how Gibbs 1.0 won me over. Possible that the modern game has largely left that formula behind, I definitely get that. It's just a hard philosophy for me to shake.
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I have no issue with the points you made on the pod - he’s a good coach who deserves consideration. I also think he has made his reputation with some pretty middling rosters and has never had a great GM or an impressive player list but still has won more than he’s lost.

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