There is no rule that says a NFL General Manager has to be a former player. But when your General Manager is not only a former player, but a HOF resident, it tends to add a ton of credibilityÃ‚Â to the personnel evaluation process. To say there are profound, distinct differences between Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome and the Dallas Cowboys General Manager Jerry Jones would be a monumental understatement. The player development and succession planning skills are simply night and day. The Baltimore Ravens always seem to have a fundamental plan in place, year-in, year-out.
The Baltimore Ravens continually have total landscape vision: they have an acute awareness of who is coming and going on the free agent market, and they always have a handle on whether available, on-the-market players serve their specific needs, physically, productively and financially. The pieces of their puzzle always have near-perfect matches. Even more impressive that their shrewdness in free agency, is their continual command of and dominance in the NFL Annual Draft. They rarely seem to miss on prospects.
The Ravens lost Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard off last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defense, but theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve added veterans Elvis Dumervil, Michael Huff, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears and Daryl Smith, plus five draft picks on defense. Were they not last year’s Super Bowl champions? They were also shrewd enough to bite the bullet and let WR Anquan Boldin saunter off to Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco acquiring essential, missing pieces with the freed up cap space. There are always sound business and football reasons behind their moves. Their AFC North is rock-solid, but it’s a safe bet the Baltimore Ravens be in the hunt once again this season.
Positioning and prudence. It’s their letter of the law in Baltimore. And none of this is designed to “bash” the Dallas Cowboys Brass, but there simply is no comparison between General Manager effectiveness and proven success(es). You’re simply taking the Wizard of Oz 10 out of 10 times. No hesitation.
In the clichÃƒÂ© of all clichÃƒÂ©s, “injuries are part of the game,” but the Baltimore Ravens, Dennis Pitta aside, are not dealing with leg, hamstring, knee, calf and ankle issues on both offensive and defensive lines. Their players are practicing, grinding out fundamental and developmental reps, and they are bolstering confidenceÃ‚Â on both sides of the ball. There is just no substitution for side-by-side, daily, team-building and familiarity. Some will call them lucky; I’ll call the Baltimore Ravens prepared and prudent.
Camp work and preseason games continue to build continuity amongst the Ravens’ ranks, and the Dallas Cowboys are simply burning incense, saying prayers, keeping MRI machines and “scope” doctors viable, purchasing chewing gum, baling wire, band aides and zip ties in attempt to pull things together. Both teams are employing newly-signed $100M+ quarterbacks heading into the 2013 campaign. Which one stands the better chance and/or remaining upright and alive?
It’s simply the difference of having a game plan and following it versus lacking organizational stability and vision. The Baltimore Ravens execute, the Cowboys scatter-shoot. It’s so much easier operating from a position of strength compared to being perpetually reactionary. And the premise of this entire exercise of futility is to simply point out the hinge or pivot seat. It all starts and stops with the General Manager.
Yes, Jerry Jones has the most lucrative franchise in the NFL. Hands-down, and while that’s noteworthy and admirable, it also has a ton to do with the grandiose and gorgeous facility they call home. Knowing a new team headquarters is in the making, that $2-3 billion dollar “worth” figure will only increase. The brand has never been any stronger. The field product has never been more mediocre. Hanging around the Mendoza / Mason- Dixon lines, year after year, is simply not fun, exciting or encouraging. And quite simply, while the franchise value continues to soar, Jerry and family need do nothing drastic. They don’t have to. Their hands are not forced by despondent fans and season ticket holders. Merchandise continues to sell at record paces.
But just think what it could be??!! No, you can’t have Pro Bowlers at every spot on the field, but player evaluations and selections simply have to improve. Ã‚Â A must. The “right” team culture is getting there, but the talent and depth simply must keep pace. Reaching and overpaying for a Brian Waters will be the absolute “poster child” move to completely encapsulate this entire rant.Ã‚Â Desperation defined.
The “Great Oz” is simply blowing the doors off the NFL transaction and selection processes. Oz “knows” football. The Dallas Cowboys need better decision from their GM. End of story.