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NFL GM hopeful has message for fans of losing teams, “It doesn’t have to take that long.”

I always marvel at these teams who wallow around in losing for years. I hear all this talk of rebuilding and these three-four-five and six-year plans, which really means a general manager (GM) wants to get paid. 

I am equally disappointed by the fan bases that accept this nonsense and support it with their hard-earned money. 

It does not have to take that long. It takes hiring people who are positive, people who have a vision, and people who are innovative.

 It starts with getting outside the box. To beat the box, a team must get outside of the box. 

The “box” in this case represents the same old worn-out ways of doing things within the league. 

The Cleveland Browns are a classic example of this and no owners have probably better exemplified this than Jimmy and Dee Haslam. After not winning more than 7 games in a season between 2008-2019  (and usually between 0-5 games), they found their way out of the box. 

The Browns got out of it with their own version of “Moneyball,” which was a successful practice that had been used in Major League Baseball. They got out of the box with the use of analytics. 

At first, it did not work when the Browns went 0-16 in 2017, but they came back to it a second time and put Paul DePodesta and Andrew Berry back in charge, and it has been working since. Cleveland was 11-5 last season and they are 4-3 this season. 

When I sent Mr. Haslam a handwritten note and said, “If, given the opportunity, I can build a hall of fame staff within three weeks.” Less than a month later, Mr. Haslam actually personally wrote to me and asked me for my ideas. Mr. Haslam understands what I am trying to say, which is why I believe he responded. 

It takes ownership of any of these downtrodden teams being open to getting outside of the worn-out ways of doing things.

From what I have been told by someone who interviewed for a GM job in the NFL, there is a committee that oversees the hiring process of high-level front office executives and head coaching candidates. Everything that happens at the highest of levels is approved or denied by this “round table.” 

I have been told owners lean on “advisors,” to recommend high-level candidates. The result is things never change. Just ask the Jets and Lions fans if you do not believe me. Ask any of the teams that are drafting year after year in the top-15 no matter who is in charge. Ask the teams who have never won a Super Bowl, if the same worn-out ways of doing things are working? 

Losing teams must find ways to get more aggressive. 

Current Presbyterian College head coach Kevin Kelley won 9 state titles in 18 years at Pulaski Academy by not punting. Bill Belichick said Kelley was “probably the best high school coach in the country,” before his recent promotion into the college coaching ranks. Kelley also understands what I am trying to say. 

Just sitting here hiring from the good old boy’s network, drafting in the top 15 every year, and having an equally balanced league salary cap is not cutting it. These teams must find new approaches if they ever hope to win and win big. 

Try new things. Try a two-QB system. Try a defensive alignment that features no defensive linemen and eight defensive backs in obvious 3rd down passing situations. Try not punting and going for it instead. Try not throwing a three-yard screen pass on 3rd and 18. Try something. 

What do these teams have to lose? 

The answer is not just clamoring to draft a quarterback in the top five to sell jerseys and tickets and then crossing your fingers. 

The answer is getting outside of the box. 

Different wins.

Every kind of different system has had a lot of success in the past, Bill Walsh with the “West Coast offense,” the “46” under Buddy Ryan, the “Wildcat” under Tony Sparano. Every new kind of new system takes the league by storm. The Dolphins went from being the worst team in the league to making the playoffs the following year implementing the Wildcat. 

It does not have to take years to turn things around. The man who hired me at the Jets, Bill Parcells, was a master at turning around bad teams. Bruce Arians came into Tampa and won the Super Bowl his first year. 

It takes hiring people who know what they are doing. 

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK. 

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