GM trumps coach
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Bill Parcells used to say that if you wanted him to cook the meal, you should let him buy the groceries. Control over personnel is the overwhelming key to any team's success or failure, and if you're the one who makes those calls, you're really in charge of your franchise.
Most often, those two roles are separated, because they're too tough for one person to do. Mike Holmgren, who's currently in Cleveland's sights, had control of both from 1999 through 2003 in Seattle, and only kept his coaching job because he agreed to give up his General Manager title. Holmgren was brilliant at finding and developing offensive talent, but his own preference for the nuances of the West Coast Offense left him woefully underqualified to put together a championship defense. And that's the problem with most coaches who want to run the whole show -- their own preferences and prejudices affect their team-building abilities to a crippling degree.
It doesn't matter how many brilliant coaching decisions are made with your personnel -- it's the guys on the field who will decide your fate. Can you find bargains on the free-agent and trade markets? Are you an astute evaluator of college talent? Have you assembled a talented scouting staff, and do you communicate with them in a way that maximizes their abilities to bring value to what they do? Most importantly, do you have an overriding and realistic team concept that drives the search for the kinds of players who will fit the systems you intend to run? It should be no surprise that Bill Walsh, who was one of the few able to deal effectively with both titles during his time with the 49ers, was in demand as a motivational speaker for executives after his NFL career concluded. The attributes he brought to the gridiron are crucial to success in any endeavor. He understood that no matter how brilliant the system may be, it's the players, and the ability to build a roster, that determines success in the NFL. And, for that matter, in any type of business.
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