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Chalk Talk Discussion: The Power Lies with the Head Coach...but Should it?

One of many experimental iterations ...

KDawg

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***Again, I posted this at the other site as well. But again, I like the conversation that generates in both places. It's so different! PS: I'm going to stop posting this disclaimer soon***

There is a common ground that I'm seeing amongst the Redskins faithful... It's that the head coach shouldn't also be the GM. There are many valid reasons for that logic, none more than he has no one to really answer to. This is a great point in my eyes. Who does a head coach, that's also a GM, answer to? Generally, that would be the owner... But our owner has gotten into a bit of hot water with the fanbase amd is attempting to stay out of football matters, and on top of that he all but guaranteed Shanahan five years (which he can absolutely go back on, that's the beauty of being the owner, I suppose).

But the overwhelming majority around here does indeed suggest that the route to go is to have a GM and head coach that are separate. Which I'm not sure I agree or disagree with. But I do see both sides of the coin.

By having a general manager involved with the head coach, you essentially divide power amongst them. But when you do that, you often put the head coach in a poor spot with guys on his roster that he never wanted. Sometimes, that's a good thing, sometimes, it's not. The positive in the GM > Coach set up is that you can absolutely hold the coach accountable for their actions while still maintaining some semblence of order in the franchise. The negative of the GM > Coach relationship is that the coach can be outvoted.

Take for example the New England Patriots. Bob Kraft didn't let Parcells "shop for the groceries" as Parcells puts it so Parcells left. They hired Pete Carroll to run the team, but he wasn't given full power. He split it with Bobby Grier (VP player personnel) and COO Andy Wasynczuk. Kraft now admits that to be an error.

When Carroll returned to Seattle, he insisted he get the keys to the kingdom or he wouldn't join the organization, and Paul Allen obliged. It's worked out for Seattle thus far. Carroll's Seattle teams have had fairly subpar offenses as a whole in his three year tenure, but there has been a ton of improvement on the field.

Seattle's records:

2008: 4-12 (Holmgren)
2009: 5-11 (Mara)
2010: 7-9 (Carroll)
2011: 7-9 (Carroll)
2012: 5-4 (Carroll)

Furthermore, their defense rankings skyrocketed. (Pts/Yards)

2008: 25/30 (Holmgren)
2009: 25/24 (Mara)
2010: 25/27 (Carroll)
2011: 7/9 (Carroll)
2012: 3/4 (Carroll)

And we all know what happened with the Patriots when Bob Kraft learned from his error... He hired Belichick and gave him full control. And they won. Super Bowls.

But what worked in New England, and looks like it's panning out in Seattle, doesn't necessarily have to work in D.C. But that also doesn't mean a head coach power structure can't work in D.C., either.

Thus far, it would be a lie to say we've gotten off to a good start with Shanahan. It's been rocky, and whether he's here or not our front office needs to decide the structure in which we go forward with. But let's also keep in mind, we've had many different front office structures in Snyder's tenure. We had Marty/Vinny, Gibbs/Pretty Much Everyone, Zorn/Vinny/Snyder and now Shanahan with full control.

I think a coach having full control is a great strategy. They need to be able to pick their staff and their personnel, so long as they are capable when it comes to personnel. A young coach may be aided by having a personnel guy there to help guide him, while still allowing the coach to shop for his own groceries.

I'm not sure, just like with all things football related, there is a right or wrong answer. I think it depends on where you are and who you are. And those are the kinds of decisions ownership must make and stick to. But I will say this: The Head Coach = General Manager approach has worked, many times. Just because it's not working right now doesn't mean it can't succeed in Washington.
 

Goaldeje

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As usual, great write up KDawg. I would throw in the common refrain heard around here that we need to beef up our scouting and talent evaluation department. There is no cap on those figures, so why not go get the best and bring them in? They can provide valuable input into who to draft, acquire through FA, etc. that would make those decisions much better informed.
 

KDawg

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Forgive my ignorance -- and I'm asking honestly -- but what does Bruce Allen do?
He a big part of the finances. I don't know how much say he has in the free agency signing aspect of the team, but I assume he does evaluation and makes suggestions to Shanahan as well, but I may be speaking out of turn there. I know he's responsible for creating cap-friendly contracts, though.
 

KDawg

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actually, belichick shared power with the gm, i believe it was pioli.
Incorrect. Pat Kirwan mentions it in his book "Keep your eye off the ball"

He's good friends with Pete Carroll and a former GM.
 

Rymanofthenorth

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im pretty sure that Belichick shared power early on in his tenure with the Pats Ill have to look into it more. if its true that he didnt, he would be the exception to the rule, and he was a defencive coord who was also a solid OC, not at all like shanny
 

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The theory of why this scenario doesn't work, is the fact that the GM is supposed to be focused on the long term, and the coach the short term. When both people are the same, it's hard to keep that mentality.

The GM needs to be the guy who's looking at personnel, traveling around making appearances, almost being a politician in a sense. In addition to that they need to be involved with player relations and the hiring and firing of personnel, building a foundation for long term success.

The HC needs to be 100% focused on the here and now. He needs to not give a crap what's going to happen with contracts, or cap problems, or anything outside of building the playbook and developing the players. He needs to have one thing and one thing only on his mind, and that's winning on Sunday.
 

KDawg

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The HC needs to be 100% focused on the here and now. He needs to not give a crap what's going to happen with contracts, or cap problems, or anything outside of building the playbook and developing the players. He needs to have one thing and one thing only on his mind, and that's winning on Sunday.
That's how New England ran it with Pioli, from how I understand it. Pioli was in charge of all the non football stuff, but Belichick had final say on his roster and was briefed. In the end, he had competent people that helped him. Pioli is a very good personnel man and Belichick used him. But make no bones about it, that roster was Belichick's at the end of the day. Pioli just helped put him in good position to make quality choices. And then he ran the off the field stuff.
 

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Which works great if the coach can make quality choices, something I think is very much in doubt with Shanahan.
 

KDawg

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Which works great if the coach can make quality choices, something I think is very much in doubt with Shanahan.
Here's the crux of it. I absolutely agree with you. In the OP I noted how its a situational thing. Mike Shanahan can spot and create a running back from 5000 miles away. He's probably among the best to ever do that. But in other places, he needs to take more of a backseat in personnel decisions.
 

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Here's the crux of it. I absolutely agree with you. In the OP I noted how its a situational thing. Mike Shanahan can spot and create a running back from 5000 miles away. He's probably among the best to ever do that. But in other places, he needs to take more of a backseat in personnel decisions.
I would question even this though, KD. I can't help but think that maybe the RB guru is Bobby Turner who was with Shanahan his entire time in Denver. If this is the case, perhaps the missing Alex Gibbs is why we don't seem to be able to find the talent on the OL that Shanahan was once credited with?

Maybe the issue is less Mike Shanahan and more his selections for position coaches. Just sayin'.
 

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Look at Bellichick. Once the front office guys left and he was picking all the players you have ended up with some major busts in free agency and the draft.

Is Shanahan better than Cerrato?

Of course.

But that doesn't mean our current situation is optimal.

The Patriots in 2001-2006 would never have traded for Haynesworth and Chad Johnson.
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KDawg

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I would question even this though, KD. I can't help but think that maybe the RB guru is Bobby Turner who was with Shanahan his entire time in Denver. If this is the case, perhaps the missing Alex Gibbs is why we don't seem to be able to find the talent on the OL that Shanahan was once credited with?
Alex Gibbs WAS the reason that Denver's OLs were so good. No question in my mind.

Maybe the issue is less Mike Shanahan and more his selections for position coaches. Just sayin'.
People tend to forget that coaches are personnel, too. Shanahan picked his coaches. That's a Shanahan problem.
 

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People tend to forget that coaches are personnel, too. Shanahan picked his coaches. That's a Shanahan problem.
Oh no, I totally agree with that. I was really talking about player personnel but yes, the coaches are personnel too.

I still remember how overjoyed the fans in San Francisco were when we hired Chris Foerster to be our O Line coach here and got him out of Frisco. I didn't think that could be a good thing and as time goes on that feeling only gets stronger.
 

Henry

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SilentThreat's got it.

Sure you can put all your eggs in the coach's basket and you might get lucky. He might build a winner and stick around long term and everyone's happy.

However, for a team like the Redskins that, as you KDawg have yourself pointed out, has gone through a half dozen different front office incarnations over the past 10 years, it's vitally important that the overall plan for the team remains constant even if a coach is replaced. If Shanahan gets fired tomorrow (or at the end of the season) the worst thing that could happen for us is if we hired a coach that wants to install schemes that our current personnel can't run. What we need instead is a coach that can get the players we have to run the offense and defense we have BETTER. A GM will be able to handle that, as well as continue to bring in players that fit with this overall philosophy. A coach ... not so much.

One of the reasons this team is struggling mightily on defense when it shouldn't have to be (as a certain poster is want to repeatedly point out) is because our then-brand new coach Shanahan decided to completely shift gears on defense and we had to start completely from scratch on that side of the ball. A GM with ultimate veto power over the coach could prevent such a thing from happening.

Unfortunately I don't think our current GM has that type of influence. Or will if Shanahan goes.
 

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Allen is an administrator not a personnel guy. That's one of the reasons he is here.

Remember the Denver fans saying Shanahan's demise started with the Broncos when he stopped listening to his scouts and front office and made decisions on personnel on his own.

He clearly seems to be tired here and without many answers.

That's because a lot of the first two years were wasted. Poor free agent signings to go along with some poor trades.

Does Shanahan deserve a mulligan for those two years because of Griffin and Morris and hope for the future?

Or do you look at Hall and Polumbus starting and say Shanahan just didn't get the personnel right fast enough?
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