Today’s National Football League features a plethora of young talent especially at the quarterback position. These head coaches and offensive coordinators expect these young quarterbacks to come in right away, start, and produce. But production is not, and should not be, solely dependent on the man under center.
Several top-notch, classy organizations, as well as some who were doormats of the league for so long but have now turned their fortunes around, start with an excellent front office and a young franchise quarterback.
The business decisions of an organization have to be on point, so a hard-working and precise general manager is required. That GM needs to provide a solid foundation of his team. A strong head coach, whether he is proven or not, is ideal, and every team that wants to succeed in today’s NFL should have a franchise quarterback. The assets of the general manager and head coach certainly aid the quarterback when he is young and still progressing.
Over the recent past, I believe four teams have mastered this trio of an ideal general manager, head coach, and quarterback. All four teams are now legitimate contenders.
Two of those teams have QBs who are not “young” in NFL standards, but are relatively young compared to the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees, who are all older than 32. I’m talking about the Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Ravens, who feature quarterbacks (Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, respectively), who are both 28 years old.
Falcons’ general manager Thomas Dimitroff has proven himself to be one of the best in the business. He is the man responsible for providing Matt Ryan with valuable weapons (such as Julio Jones) no matter the cost. His moves through free agency are excellent – this offseason, he quietly, yet effectively, filled the hole at running back by bringing in Steven Jackson to replace Michael Turner.
Head coach Mike Smith is averaging 11 wins per season in his head coaching tenure, one of the best numbers in the league. Smith is a gutsy play-caller who makes the most out of the players Dimitroff provides, helping Matt Ryan succeed.
Ryan, without question, is a top-10 quarterback in this league. He’s a proven winner, at least in the regular season. He led them to the doorstep of the Super Bowl last season, and with his skillset, the talents of Mike Smith, and the tremendous job Dimitroff has done (and is continuing to do), Atlanta will always be a contender and is on the brink of a title.
Meanwhile, Ravens fans are celebrating a Super Bowl title. Baltimore is built the same way as Atlanta, with the front office coming first and foremost. General manager Ozzie Newsome is underrated in his role – many fail to recognize what he has done. He built the Super Bowl team mainly through the draft, including Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Ed Reed, etc. He also made one of the most interesting head coach hires in recent memory.
Newsome hired former special teams and defensive back coach John Harbaugh, a move that was questioned by many. However, Harbaugh has proven to be one of the best coaches in the league, averaging just under 11 wins per season. He is part of only a handful of active head coaches who have won a Super Bowl. When he was hired in 2008, he and Newsome found their franchise guy in Joe Flacco.
Flacco is said to throw one of the best deep balls in the league. His rocket arm, as well as his plethora of weapons given to him by Newsome, led the Ravens to a title.
With these two franchises in Baltimore and Atlanta, a strong trio of a general manager, head coach, and quarterback is very important, especially if the quarterback is relatively young. But what about a scenario when the quarterback is even younger? What if he is a rookie? Then, he would need the general manager and head coach even more. The Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts, who won a combined 7 games in 2011, turned the tide in 2012.
After a miserable 2011 campaign where Peyton Manning never saw the field, owner Jim Irsay fired GM Bill Polian and head coach Jim Caldwell, and released Peyton Manning. He hired young Ryan Grigson and then-Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. In Grigson’s first draft, the Andrew Luck pick was a no-brainer. But Grigson didn’t stop with the offense there – he added two tight ends in the next two rounds (Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen) and found a pass-catching gem (T.Y. Hilton) in the sixth round. He helped prepare Luck offensively for the year.
Pagano was diagnosed with Leukemia and has made a full recovery, but unfortunately missed a majority of the team’s games last season. In his first game back, Pagano’s Colts embarrassed the Texans. This season, we will see Pagano’s full potential.
Andrew Luck was nothing short of great in 2012, leading his team to the playoffs and improving by 9 wins from the season before. Luck deserves a ton of credit, but he should thank Grigson for the pieces to the puzzle and Pagano for inspiring the Colts and still being with his team when sick. This GM-HC-QB bond could go the furthest out of any, with so much potential stored.
Washington had been the doormat of the NFC East before Robert Griffin III arrived. But earlier in the Daniel Snyder era, times were very much worse. When Vinny Cerrato resigned, Snyder hired a manager who could make sound business decisions: Bruce Allen. Allen then hired Mike Shanahan. Their first two seasons together were arguably wasted away – this was because of the lack of a franchise quarterback.
The gutsy trade that brought Robert Griffin III to D.C. was possibly the highlight of the Shanahan-Allen era. Shanahan and Allen have worked well together, and with the addition of RGIII, Washington became a legitimate threat in 2012 and won the NFC East after four straight last-place finishes leading up to last season.
Allen, Shanahan, and Griffin have Washington set for another playoff appearance, and perhaps more; this depends on Griffin’s health.
The four general manager, head coach, and quarterback combinations of the four teams abovementioned have paved the way to a Super Bowl victory for each team. The manager provides the staff and pieces that a quarterback needs to succeed, the head coach guides the team, and the quarterback, along with his supporting cast provided by the front office, does the rest on the field.
The Ravens already have a ring with Joe Flacco. Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Washington are to follow with their respective trios.
Topics: Andrew Luck, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Bruce Allen, Chuck Pagano, Daniel Snyder, General Manager, Head Coach, Indianapolis Colts, Jim Irsay, Joe Flacco, John Harbaugh, Matt Ryan, Mike Shanahan, Mike Smith, NFL, Ozzie Newsome, Quarterback, Robert Griffin Iii, Ryan Grigson, Thomas Dimitroff, Vinny Cerrato, Washington Redskins