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How Important is “GM Salesmanship”?

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Put in naval terms, the General Manager (GM) is the Captain of the ship. He picks the crew and let’s the 1st mate (the Head Coach) steer the boat. The importance of the GM cannot be understated and can easily be the difference between the ship reaching her destination or  hitting an iceberg on her maiden voyage.

What skill set must a good GM specifically posses and what is he ultimately be responsible for? How important is social skills or being able to sell your product to a free agent looking for a new start? Let’s take a quick look at the main duties and prerequisites that a good GM must have.

  • Most importantly the GM must have superior scouting instincts. They have to be able to smell out a potential bust and be able to find that diamond in the rough. A 1st round bust has cost many GM’s their job.
  • They have be be able to “balance the budget”, meaning a good GM must get the most talent with a given amount of money. Anyone can overspend on a particular player, but the trick is to get the most value for the bosses buck. All 32 teams have the same amount they are allowed to spend. The GM who gets the most talent for a finite amount of cash wins the prize.
  •  They need to work with other people and share a common vision. The GM can target a player they want on the team, but working with the Capoligist is crucial in working out a contract that is favorable to both parties. He must also have a good rapport with the owner and the coaching staff.
  •  Finally, in my opinion the GM must be a good salesman. Although teams are primarily built through the draft, the period of free agency is important. Free agency can be used to fill a specific need that may be a weak area in the draft or to evaluate players for future reference should an injury mandate signing a player of a particular position.  The GM must sell the city, the facility, the staff and a vision of success.

So, it begs the question on how does our own GM Jeff Ireland rate given these factors?  Let me say I have been one of the biggest supporters of Jeff and have been in many interesting debates on our Miami Dolphin forum. For me, judgemnet of his performance started the day after Bill Parcells left. Parcells called the shots everywhere he has ever been and there is no reason to think Miami was any different.

Let’s start with talent evaluator. In my opinion this is Jeff’s strongest suit. In the short period he has drafted on his own, there has not been a clear bust….not even one, and time will tell, but it looks like he has made some stellar picks. No, the Mike Pouncey pick was not glamouris, but gave Miami an above average Center / Guard for years to come. Daniel Thomas lead all rookie RB’s in yardage despite being injured. Meanwhile, the rest of the 2011 picks looks promising with 7th round pick Jimmy Wilson being called the steal of the draft in certain circles.

Jeff has been effective as well in getting value for his players. Yes, he did franchise Paul Soliai a couple of years back, but made up for that just recently by signing the big guy for a fraction of his former deal. I have to say, I never saw that one coming. I think Ireland has also excelled in getting guys like Reggie Bush for a 6th round pick and getting Matt Moore for a steal of a deal. As important is the deals he didn’t make. How many fans were willing to sell the franchise for Carson Palmer or Kyle Orton?

As far as working with other people, from what I see Jeff appears to be on the same page with his new coaching staff. There is NO DOUBT he shares Joe Philbin’s philosophy of building through the draft. Some fans didn’t like it, but by trading Brandon Marshall (who did not fit the new offense anyway), for 2 3rd rounders gives the Fins 8 picks for the next 2  years. When was the last time that happened?

On to the gist of the article! Jeff Ireland has a reputation for kicking tires and turning over stones, but I can’t help but wonder if some of those tires and stones would rather not be part of the organization.

Recently, Dolphan fans have seen Peyton Manning refuse to even visit. Ross ended up chasing him down in Indy for a “courtesy interview.” Flynn came and went after many fans thought this was a done deal. Shortly after signing with the Seahawks, Fllynn was quoted as saying “they have the right people.”

Other free agents have come and gone only to sign elsewhere. Worse, some players around the league are saying no one wants to play in Miami. Some former players like Channing Crowder, Joey Porter and even Ricky Williams have been critical of the front office.


Geographically, Miami is a fantastic place to live and work. There are tons of activities and the nightlife for a 20 something aged young man is second to none. Heck, even just being a resident in FL. is a huge tax advantage for these millionaires, as FL. has no state tax and a reasonable sales tax. What is not to like? What is the problem?

Come to your own conclusion, but I can’t help but think salesmanship is Jeff’s weakest trait. I don’t personally know the man, but in the press he has a reputation of being arrogant and smug and I don’t recall ever seeing him even smile. Yes, he is only one guy and players don’t interact with him frequently, but still he is the first impression a potential recruit is exposed to when considering a career in Miami. In my opinion, Jeff could improve on selling the Fins to the players he wants to sign.




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