RAMS’ ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Those of you familiar with my “handle” are aware that I believe the current front office, coaching staff and player personnel of the Rams are unsatisfactory. I daresay many of you agree with me. We have all shared our frustration with the “fire-em-all” refrain the past few weeks.
That got me thinking…dangerous, I know…about what the Rams ought to do. It occurs to me perhaps I should put myself in the shoes of the owner, Mr. Kroenke. After all, he’s got the biggest part of a billion dollars invested in the team. While there’s no way I can imagine being a billionaire and no way I can copy Mr. Kroenke’s approach to business, perhaps my thoughts will be a bit more coherent if I at least try to look at things from the “owner’s box.”
First, a brief overview of Rams history. Until 1990 you might call them a second tier team. They were mostly a playoff contending team if not making the playoffs. A good, if not very good, franchise…but not a great one. After 1990 they became bottom dwellers but for a three year burst of glory from 1999 to 2001, followed by a few years of either making or contending for the playoffs from 2002 to 2005. Then it was basically back to the “same old Rams” of the 1990’s.
Next, two assumptions. First, the value of the team probably isn’t going to decrease too much. Granted they used to say that about real estate so there is some risk, but the football business is the entertainment business. Over the long haul, the owner probably isn’t going to lose too much on the investment. If the team wins, the gate is better, but the TV contract reduces the risk of owning a loser.
Second, the owner is an intelligent, hard-working, competitive individual who desires his business ventures not only to succeed, but to be among the best, the standard in the industry as it were.
So know we can address the question “what should the Ram’s be?” a bit more thoughtfully. The answer is the Rams should be a top tier football team. Top tier means the Pittsburgh Steelers. It can also include teams like Green Bay, New England, Dallas and San Francisco. In my view, though, the Steelers have been the most consistent franchise since 1970. The others have had issues from time-to-time.
Notice that the answer to the question of what the Ram’s should be is not winning the division in 3 years or the Superbowl in 5 years. I believe the focus should be on building an organization with results like the Steelers over the long haul. A five year flash in the pan, while better than not having it, is not the way to build the franchise. And I believe that is what the Rams must do: BUILD THE FRANCHISE. That’s how the owner is going to make money in the long term.
So the main organizational goal is to build a Steelers-like franchise. How do we do that? Well…just like the Steelers did. To get started we can also look at the pre-Jerry Jones Cowboys, the Patriots under Belichek, the Packers have starting with Ron Wolf and DeBartolo’s Forty-Niners. But we can’t start with the get a great coach and great quarterback mentality. We have to start from the owner and the front office.
The owners of the great franchises are involved but not in control. Dan Snyder’s way is not the way. The Rooney way is the way. Bob Kraft. The owner needs to assemble a front office team with the same goal: to build a long-term winning franchise. The critical parts of that team are the team president, general manager, director of player personnel, head coach and coaching staff.
The way to a good franchise is consistency. Consistency in the front office. Consistency in coaching. Consistency in player selection and development. A complete absence of mercurial personalities. The management team must share the long-term goal and work together without caring about whom gets the credit.
The owner needs to find people willing to commit for the long-term to achieve the goal. These folks need to have significant experience in winning organizations, NFL preferred. Those people will mostly be found in the organizations of those teams we are trying to emulate or are “graduates” of those organizations.
The owner needs to assure all involved that so long as this process is followed and incremental targets are achieved, no one’s job is in danger. The goal is not to become champions overnight. The goal is to become perennial championship contenders. The owner will assist in setting some of the bigger incremental targets but will leave the smaller steps and implementation to the staff.
To properly assemble this management team, the owner will probably want to hire some consultants. These consultants could also be candidates for particular jobs in the organization.
If I were owner, I’d sure want to pay for some time from folks like Gil Brandt, former director of player personnel of the Cowboys. Granted he’s up there in years, but I’d like to hear his thoughts on a topic he was very good at: stocking Tom Landry with talent. I’d like to have folks like Eddie DeBartolo (if he’d be willing), Bill Cowher, Joe Gibbs, Jimmy Johnson, Jeff Fisher consult with me in their areas of expertise. I’d like to have a chat with Chris Peterson at Boise State. My goal would be not only to gain ideas from them, but also referrals to others in the business who can provide help or even fill management team positions. I’d want to talk to as many people from winning football organizations that fit the profile of what I want my team to become as I could.
I apologize for not putting more specific ideas in this post. Those are for the next post and obviously I won’t have the input from the stars in the industry. In the meantime, you all can rip this one to pieces.