On Tuesday, I’ll be talking to a small group of business leaders from around Houston. The friend who asked me to speak, a wealth manager from a major firm here in the Bayou City, asked me to talk a little bit about what I do, and a little bit about the coming season, the Texans, etc.
Here’s a confession: I always get a little nervous when I’m speaking for a general crowd, i.e., mostly fans. If I’m talking to agents, scouts, financial advisors, parents of players, or anyone who’s already in the game, that’s my wheelhouse. We speak the same language, and I think I can provide them with something helpful. For people who just want to talk about the game, I’m a little less certain about things.
In thinking about what to present, I decided I’d try to discuss my theory on the keys to success in the NFL and apply it to the Texans. The beauty of this topic is that it can be applied to most any team. I’ve set this up to basically determine a team’s chances of making the playoffs, because I think winning the Super Bowl is a function of so many things (team health, how hot the team is over the last month of the season, relative strength of teams in your conference, etc.). If you can pinpoint a team’s chances of making the playoffs, to me, you’ve got a pretty good indicator of what kind of organization you have.
Anyway, in my estimation, here are the five elements that lead directly to NFL success, and their relative importance.
Quarterback (team leader, leader of offense): 25 percent – I was texting with a scout recently who was sharply critical of the Patriots’ college scouting record and methods, and in gest, I responded that their philosophy only works if you have Tom Brady as your quarterback. Actually, that’s true of almost every team. If you have an elite QB, it’s like you’re halfway home. It certainly covers for a lot of mistakes.
Rest of roster (football IQ, athleticism, fit to system): 25 percent – At the end of the day, players play. Others get fired when they don’t play well enough, but it’s the success of the players that determines everything else. If you have a ‘C’ coach and an ‘A’ roster, you can win. The reverse is not necessarily true, certainly not long-term.
Owner (commitment to winning, stadium, control/delegation): 10 percent – You may disagree with Jerry Jones’ style, or his ego, or whatever, but you can’t question his commitment to winning, the team’s stadium and practice facility, and his willingness to make tough decisions. Obviously, not all his decisions have worked out, but he’s not ben afraid to make them.
GM (head coach selection, management of draft, management of cap, head coach accountability): 25 percent – Here I’m assuming this is the traditional GM who has total control of the draft and hiring a head coach. I know this model is going away, but I think it’s the best way. In fact, I debated over making the GM 30 or 35 percent. This is why the Dave Gettleman and John Dorsey firings are, to me, incredibly big mistakes.
Head coach (selection of staff, game manager, fits system to talent, player accountability): 15 percent – There are plenty who’d say the head coach is the most important part of the team, and we’re seeing that realized in their salaries, but I think the ‘genius’ coach is mostly a function of his players.
This is my theory. Am I right? Am I wrong? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.