Over the years we have seen some teams which every season bring their A game to the field. These are the teams all pundits talk about as the sure bet for being in the playoff chase at the end of the regular season. Then there are teams which can't compete and they have been bad for years and have not been in playoff hunt for years. This is salary cap era, one team just can't spend big money like baseball and buy all the good players. Still, some teams are just way better than the other teams. Why? Let's dissect the successful teams and see what makes them great year in and year out.
Let's start with the owner of the team. He/she must be willing to spend money on quality players, on coaches and provide an environment which breeds success. A mending owner is a recipe for disaster. The owner should watch his investments but let the coach do his job. An owner who interrupts the coach sooner or later looses the coach and also the team (Jerry Jones, Al Davis, Dan Snyder anyone?).
The coach and the staff, this also includes the GM the VP of players and scouting. Hiring the right GM who would take care of the business side of the ball is first step in creating a winning environment. Then comes hiring a successful scouting director who knows how to evaluate the talent, not just those precious 1st day draft picks but also the guys who have gone under the radar and picking them from the streets. Any GM/coach who can make all or most of the draft picks contribute on Sundays would get the results of his hard work very soon. The team should be build through draft, not through free agency. Bringing in pricey free agents to build a team has never worked. Coach can look for one part of the missing puzzle through free agency but the principle is the same, build through draft. One of the best example of team building through draft and getting the final piece of puzzle through free agency has been the 90s Pakcers team. It was tandem of Ron Wolf(GM) and Mike Holmgren (coach). They drafted excellent players, got Brett Favre (QB) from Atlanta and fitted the final piece by bringing in the late great Reggie White from the Philadelphia Eagles. The title of GM, VP might differ from team to team but the job is the same. Take care of money and find talented players.
Finding the right coach and making sure that team buys into his philosophy is a very important step. These are not high school or college kids who the coach can intimidate, these are men with million dollar salaries. If coach can't earn their respect, he should pack his bags and leave because he has already lost the battle even before the team has stepped on the football field. Each coach brings his personality on the field. Some coaches are like army generals, very tough and drill masters, others are more like father figures. Both kinds have been successful on the field. One thing with coaching in NFL is that the coach should be willing to work 90-100 hours per week. 40 hours/week is not going to cut. Coach has to be ready when Sunday rolls around. Jon Gruden is a every good example of a hard working coach, he comes to office around 3-4 AM in the morning to work on his game plan. The Superbowl ring and complex offense is the evidence of his hard work. Unsuccessful, hard working coaches have extended families in NFL e.g. Bill Walsh tree; it has produced amazing number of successful head coaches in the NFL .
This is what is needed to build a strong team. In next post we will talk about the players. If a team is build on these principles, it would go out each Sunday and give it's best on the field.