Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Redskins new exec faces hectic pace
By John Keim
The job requires discipline and a desire to work long hours and watch endless amounts of tape. And then keep pushing to the next day. When the Redskins replace Morocco Brown as the director of pro personnel, they’ll need to find someone willing to handle such a role.
Brown has agreed to become Cleveland’s vice president of player personnel, making him the No. 2 person behind general manager Ray Farmer. In Washington, he was third in command.
Redskins general manager Bruce Allen told the Washington Post at the one-day owners meetings in Atlanta that they have known this was a possibility and would start interviewing candidates next week. While Doug Williams is a personnel executive and A.J. Smith is a senior executive with Washington, it’s uncertain if either would even want the job because of the heavy demands. Smith was more focused on the draft than on pro scouting this past offseason. Alex Santos, who has been a pro scout the past six years for Washington, could be on the list.
But what, exactly, will they do? During the 2012 season, I spoke with Brown about his job for my email newsletter for the Washington Examiner. I’ll lay it out the same way it was for the newsletter, giving you a sense of their week -- and why it’s important to have someone willing to grind.
Busiest day: “Is Monday. You have the game, guys get MRIs, you find out who’s injured so you want to get in and figure that out and once you figure the positional needs, you get your list which we've watched all players who are on the street as well as watching guys on other teams. You have to have your list ready. Bruce [Allen] will let me know what’s on the injury front and I’ll come up with the list, call their agents, get the flights set up. Those details take time and eat your day up. There’s a sense of urgency when someone gets hurt. Then I’ll bring them in and set up a workout. Then you've got to watch the game. It takes a while to study it. On top of that I have to have the [advance book for the next opponent] turned in by today. I give a book to all the coaches and meet with them. It’s hectic.”
The advance book: “You start watching the team we’re going to play two weeks before we play them. Then you write up every player on the team, you’ll give an overview like the defensive and offensive strengths and weaknesses and what the philosophy is scheme-wise. Just to prep the coaches because they haven’t studied the team yet. They have to have a game plan by Tuesday. You present them with the book, the injuries, what happened at the game. You want to know who was injured, what were the big plays, the momentum-changers. No one will know that unless you’re at the game. You put it in the book, put your spin on it. You start that two weeks ahead of time.”
More advance: “Doing the advance takes the life out of you. Because it’s so much work and you have to know that team. We have to sit and meet with the coaches. You go off the top of your head saying what the team does and what we need to do to win. On Monday you pass the book out. Tuesday you meet with the coaches in the morning. Wednesday we’ll meet with some of the players and talk to them. You’re spent.”
Watching tape: “I’m constantly watching tape. I’m watching tape of the upcoming free agents this year, watching tape in the beginning of the year on everyone on every practice squad. There are thousands of street free agents. We catalog them, however far back you want to go based on you. I draw the line at two years. You always need to be cognizant of who’s out there. You’re always grinding on tape. We don’t draw names out of a hat. You have to show tape. The guy has to be a player on tape.”
Inquiries: “You do background research, call around and find out about the guy. You call the league and get something from them, did he get in trouble? What’s the deal with this guy? Sometimes they will be in trouble and you bring them in anyway to talk to them, see how they are in their mind.”
His help: “I have three assistants and they’re doing their teams. I do all the teams in our division. You build a library and a catalog of the players. Like Dez Bryant. I know who he is, but you have to be on top of it and make sure you put the right grade on him. That’s the biggest thing. I’ll assign them teams and they write up their teams throughout the course of the year. They follow their teams closely. We’ll put in our system the injuries, if someone gets in trouble. We’re tracking all that stuff. By the end of the year we won’t be finished, but you want to have written up each team in the league.”
Planning ahead: “Now’s the time of year it will start coming sooner rather than later. I want to get way ahead. Coach is inquisitive about everything. He might ask something now and you have to know. I start getting here earlier or leave later to get ahead of the curve. Something always comes up. Then we have to call the CFL, see who the top guy is, get the film sent in, watch those four or five guys and see if they can help us. It consumes a ton of time. You don’t want to miss Cameron Wake coming out of the CFL. Agents call a lot, sometimes players do. You have a guy who looks through all that stuff.”