In 2013, nine of the NFL’s thirteen teams with a winning record formed their head coach-general manager tandem in the second decade of the 2000s. What does that mean? The long accepted myth that continuity in an organization is the key is to success is just that; a myth. While I was once a believer in continuity, it only works when chemistry is established.
Chemistry is the most important thing in an organization, especially between HC and GM. Chemistry is the desired result of continuity, and continuity is to sustain chemistry. If the GM/HC combination is not a match then success will never come. Just look at the Detroit Lions who gave their combination of Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz five years to prove it was not going to succeed.
Without a competent quarterback and some game-changing talent no team will win. Talent fits any system, but game-breaking talent isn’t available everywhere and usually isn’t cheap if it isn’t found in the NFL Draft. System fits need to be found for all-around team success. Later picks in the draft and free agents are more likely to be successful when brought into the right system by a general manager who understands his head coach.
A GM and a HC have to have the same mindset when it comes to building a team. If these two men are synched and an understanding for one another is had, then an organization will thrive. Getting the right players for a system is crucial. A tandem that has developed chemistry will instantly make a team look better.
A head coach also needs to be confident that his GM will provide him with the players that will put him in position to prosper. The Miami Dolphins’ Jeff Ireland/Joe Philbin did not have this trust which led to frustrations between the two with Ireland and the Dolphins eventually “mutually” parting ways. Ireland never gave Philbin the offensive line he wanted as Philbin was trying to run a zone-blocking scheme with athletic linemen but the Ireland-built line was heavy and slow.
What’s more, a GM will pass on a Ziggy Ansah or Jason Pierre-Paul, a player with raw talent that needs to be sculpted but will be a stud in the NFL, because he doesn’t trust his coaching staff to mold the player into the star he could be. The GM is weary in this situation and would likely take the safe pick because if the player is a bust, the GM could lose his job.
This is why trust is essential between a GM and HC. Whether you think the GM or HC is the main component of making a team, it cannot be argued that one cannot do their job without the other. And the better the two know each other and work together the better the results of their combined efforts will be. No matter how you look at it it’s a team, and just like a quarterback can’t win a game by himself, a head coach or general manager cannot create a winning team by himself.