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Coaching and GM Tenures in 2017

Ambassadors to the United Kingdom and Christian Hackenberg

There are 10 teams that have a coach and a GM that both arrived in the same season, which is the most common setup in the league. This includes successful organizations like New England (Bill Belichick and Bill Belichick, 17 years), Seattle (John Schneider and Pete Carroll, 7 years), Arizona (Steve Keim and Bruce Arians, 4 years) and Kansas City (John Dorsey and Andy Reid, 4 years), along with some teams that are hoping to duplicate such success. Four that are still working their way through the early years of marriage, while two are just getting started in 2017.

Ryan Pace and John Fox have been together in Chicago for two years, as have Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles in New York, while Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson in Cleveland and Chris Grier and Adam Gase in Miami just finished their first seasons. Finally, GM John Lynch and HC Kyle Shanahan just arrived in San Francisco, while Buffalo added HC Sean McDermott in January before switching GMs and bringing in Brandon Beane after the 2017 Draft.

Washington currently has a vacancy at General Manager, after firing Scot McCloughan in March after two winning years. Four other teams (in addition to Washington and Buffalo) are in the unique situation of having a head coach with a longer tenure than its GM:

  • In 2014, Mike Mularkey was hired to be Tennessee’s tight ends coach. Midway through the 2015 season, the Titans fired Ken Whisenhunt and promoted Mularkey to interim head coach. Two months later, Tennessee fired GM Ruston Webster and hired Jon Robinson from Tampa Bay; Robinson, despite significant backlash, chose to retain Mularkey as the team’s head coach. That has worked out pretty well so far: after going 3-13 (2-7 under Mularkey) in 2015, the Titans went 9-7 in the first year under Mularkey and Robinson.
  • Ron Rivera has been in Carolina since 2011. After a 6-10 first season, Carolina began the year 3-9 in 2012, prompting me to write how attractive this potentially vacant job would be. Well, the Panthers finished 7-9 and retained Rivera, but fired Marty Hurney, who had been the team’s general manager since 2002. The Panthers then hired Dave Gettleman, who retained Rivera, and the rest has been history. Rivera has been named the AP Head Coach of the Year twice since Gettleman arrived.
  • The Lions hired Jim Caldwell in 2014, just a year removed from his impressive playoff run that resulted in a Super Bowl as the Ravens offensive coordinator. At the time, Detroit’s GM was Martin Mayhew, but he was fired midway through 2015 with Detroit just 1-7. The Lions hired ex-Patriot Bob Quinn in 2016, who chose to retain Caldwell, after the Lions went 6-2 down the stretch in 2015. Like Mularkey and Robinson, Caldwell and Quinn went
  • Finally, the Colts brought in Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson in 2012. Indianapolis followed three straight 11-5 seasons with a pair of 8-8 campaigns; after nearly firing one or both men after 2015, Colts owner Jim Irsay finally ended the failed marriage by canning Grigson after the 2016 season. He’s been replaced by Chris Ballard, who is retaining Pagano… so far.

The table below shows this information for all 32 teams. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but for clarity’s sake, note that the years column excludes the yet-to-be-played (spoiler!) 2017 season.

TeamGMGM TitleYearsHead CoachYearsDiff
Dallas CowboysJerry JonesOwner/President/General Manager28Jason Garrett721
Cincinnati BengalsMike BrownPrincipal Owner/President/General Manager26Marvin Lewis1412
Baltimore RavensOzzie NewsomeGeneral Manager/Executive VP21John Harbaugh912
New York GiantsJerry ReeseSenior VP/General Manager10Ben McAdoo19
Houston TexansRick SmithExecutive VP/General Manager11Bill O'Brien38
Minnesota VikingsRick SpielmanExecutive VP/General Manager11Mike Zimmer38
Pittsburgh SteelersKevin ColbertVP & General Manager17Mike Tomlin107
Atlanta FalconsThomas DimitroffGeneral Manager9Dan Quinn27
Philadelphia EaglesHowie RosemanExec. VP of Football Ops7Doug Pederson16
Denver BroncosJohn ElwayExecutive VP of Football Operations/General Manager6Vance Joseph06
Los Angeles RamsLes SneadGeneral Manager5Sean McVay05
New Orleans SaintsMickey LoomisExecutive VP/General Manager15Sean Payton114
Los Angeles ChargersTom TelescoGeneral Manager4Anthony Lynn04
Oakland RaidersReggie McKenzieGeneral Manager5Jack Del Rio23
Jacksonville JaguarsDavid CaldwellGeneral Manager4Doug Marrone13
Tampa Bay BuccaneersJason LichtGeneral Manager3Dirk Koetter12
Green Bay PackersTed ThompsonExecutive VP/General Manager/Director of Football Operations12Mike McCarthy111
New England PatriotsBill BelichickHead Coach/de facto General Manager17Bill Belichick170
Seattle SeahawksJohn SchneiderExecutive VP/General Manager7Pete Carroll70
Arizona CardinalsSteve KeimGeneral Manager4Bruce Arians40
Kansas City ChiefsJohn DorseyGeneral Manager4Andy Reid40
Chicago BearsRyan PaceGeneral Manager2John Fox20
New York JetsMike MaccagnanGeneral Manager2Todd Bowles20
Cleveland BrownsSashi BrownExecutive VP of Football Operations1Hue Jackson10
Miami DolphinsChris GrierGeneral Manager1Adam Gase10
Buffalo BillsBrandon BeaneGeneral Manager0Sean McDermott00
San Francisco 49ersJohn LynchGeneral Manager0Kyle Shanahan00
Tennessee TitansJon RobinsonExecutive VP/General Manager1Mike Mularkey2-1
Carolina PanthersDave GettlemanGeneral Manager4Ron Rivera6-2
Detroit LionsBob QuinnExecutive VP of Football Operations/General Manager1Jim Caldwell3-2
Washington RedskinsVacant0Jay Gruden3-3
Indianapolis ColtsChris BallardGeneral Manager0Chuck Pagano5-5

What stands out to you? I probably shouldn’t have been surprised to see it, but man — Kevin Colbert has been with Pittsburgh for 17 years! Tom Donahoe, who struggled in Buffalo from ’01 to ’05, was the Steelers GM from ’91 to ’99, while Dick Haley was the team’s Director of Player Personnel and de facto GM from 1971-1990. Dan Rooney, who passed away last month and was the Steelers Chairman from 1988 to 2016, was the Steelers General Manager in ’68 and ’69, after an 18-year run by Francis Fogarty from 1951 to 1968. And John Holahan was the team’s GM from 1945 to 1952, giving us the complete list of GMs for the Steelers since World War II.

Another thing to consider. Los Angeles has a pair of GMs that have been around for a few years and just fired the coach they were tied to. How long of a leash will the Rams and Chargers give their GMs under new head coaches?

Finally, here’s the same table in graph form.

As always, please leave your thoughts in the comments.

  • Anders

    I think the Eagles situation is special in that he was the Eagles GM from 2010 to 2014, “promoted” to his current title in 15 where Kelly got the GM title.
    Last year Roseman was rehired to GM where Roseman hired Joe Douglas which meant the Eagles stopped using the GM title as Joe Douglas and Howie have joint responsibility.

    • Agreed: that’s a good point. In some ways, it’s fair to consider Roseman a new hire in 2016, and that he and Pederson entered Philadelphia together. I think you can view it both ways.

  • Four Touchdowns

    The Scot McCloughan firing was truly baffling — Washington is determined to be a perennial loser.

    • It most certainly was baffling.

      • Four Touchdowns

        I get the feeling that if Dan Snyder himself can’t take the credit for his team’s success, he doesn’t want it — even if that means years of failure.

        But that’s all speculation.

        • JeremyDeShetler

          It didn’t have anything to do with Snyder, it was all Allen and McCloughan.

          Well…Snyder had to pick which horse he wanted to back, but…that was about it from what i’ve seen/heard.

        • Richie

          Dan Snyder doesn’t want to take credit for the team succeeding?

          • Four Touchdowns

            He does but I’d guess that if the Skins succeed, McC would get the credit instead of him… but as Jeremy points out below, that might be more Allen than Snyder.

            Either way, they all suck.

  • sacramento gold miners

    It would have been interesting to know whether Dick Haley was in favor of drafting Dan Marino for the Steelers in 1983. Ownership liked Marino, and a background check shot down rumors of drug use. But Chuck Noll wanted to rebuild the team with a great defensive tackle(like he did in 1969), and that was the decision. The team had already spent a number one pick on Mark Malone a couple years ago, and clubs don’t like to admit mistakes. Also, it was believed Bradshaw’s elbow would come around, but that never happened.

    • Four Touchdowns

      It’s a damn shame for both parties. I think Dan might have had more success with Noll and won a title or two.

  • Richie

    Bruce Arians has only been with the Cardinals for 4 years? That was a surprise. I probably would have guessed 6 or 7.

    • Wolverine

      Arians had been a successful coordinator for a while, but could never get a head coaching job for some reason (maybe wealthy owners don’t like people who are unafraid to say exactly what’s on their mind?). When Chuck Pagano got sick in 2012, Arians stepped in as interim coach in Indy and did well, which apparently finally got him a head coaching job at his relatively advanced age.

  • Richie

    Not that it matters, but was Jerry Jones really the GM when Jimmy Johnson was there? I thought Johnson was making the player decisions.

    Interesting story on Wikipedia. Before the Herschel Walker trade, apparently Johnson tried to trade Michael Irvin to the Raiders, but Al Davis talked him out of it: “You sure you want to do that? Who is going to catch passes for you?”

    • Wolverine

      If true, that story is absolutely crazy.

  • Four Touchdowns

    Chase, totally OT — but have you considered organizing old columns by something other than the date on the right-hand side? Like a list of all the tags you’ve used for articles?

    Just a thought. Thanks!

  • kevin trammo

    Bengals, Steelers and Ravens are 2nd, 3rd and 4th in length of tenure for their respective GMs. Adds even more emphasis to the instability of the Browns.