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Going from Good to Great


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When a GM is hired, it's usually because the team that hired him had been failing. The GM usually inherits a team with many flaws, (lack of talent, poor cap management, poor coaching, etc.), but steps into a situation where he would have a relatively high draft pick due to the team's losing record. The GM has to structure a front office team around him and then move on to evaluating the coaches. Most of the time, this results in the firing of the head coach and possibly others, and the GM will select his own head coach. Both the head coach and GM will then fill out any other coaching vacancies.


Once the coaching is situated, they turn their eyes on the roster and cap management. This usually results in the release of players from the roster who are a detriment to the team's cap situation (sometimes even good players). With the roster trimmed down; the cap situation under control, and with high draft picks, they are ready for FA and the draft.


At this point, I think that any competent GM can turn a bad team into a good team, especially if the team already has it's franchise QB. From a fan's perspective, it would appear that the GM is doing a great job because they turned a losing team into a good team. The team is winning again. But the enemy of "great" is "good". 


What philosophy would you apply or what steps would you take to get a roster from good to great? This to me, is the greatest challenge for all GMs.

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I think that going from good to great comes from the draft and takes some luck.


A good example of what helped make the Colts great was drafting Reggie Wayne. He was drafted towards the end of the first round in 2001. I didn't really follow things that closely then but i'm pretty sure there were people who didn't think the Colts should draft a WR. But Reggie was a great player and IMO will be a HOF at some point. When you have the chance to draft a great player then you do it. That's easier said than done though because teams are always trying to fill needs. It also becomes more difficult to do this as you get further along in the draft. It becomes easier to take a need. I say it takes some luck because every draft is different and there might not be a great player when you pick. (production does not automatically = great)


You also need great players at key positions. QB, skill position, DE, and CB. It's often said that the red zone, and I think critical moments of the game, becomes about players and not plays. So you want a couple of your great players to be at those key positions.


Another important part of it is player leadership. I think it's something you have to be looking for from the start though and not just when you are trying to go from good to great. It's important in all teams whether it's a football team or a team within a business. I think part of leadership is doing your job at a high level but it's also about accountability. I think a good example of this is a story Pat McAfee told about Austin Collie. He attempted to catch a pass with one hand and didn't. As he is coming back towards the huddle Peyton just pointed to the sideline. After the offense was off the field Manning made it clear to Collie that he better not try any more one handed catches. We can't really see the player leadership or measure it but I think of this story as an example of it. It's difficult for a lot of people to hold others accountable though because it's tempting to avoid potential conflict.

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