NFC West: Ryan Grigson

Grigson, not Schneider, named top exec

January, 28, 2013
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NEW ORLEANS -- Executives throughout the NFL would happily trade places with Super Bowl general managers Trent Baalke (San Francisco) and Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore).

Neither prevailed in voting among peers for the Sporting News' award honoring the top executive for the 2012 season. That distinction went to Indianapolis Colts GM Ryan Grigson, who turned over most of the team's roster and went 11-5 with a rookie quarterback.

AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky and I were among those voting for Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider in a separate poll. Schneider narrowly prevailed in that one.

My thinking at the time:
"I voted for Schneider because I thought the moves Seattle made required more skill and foresight. [Denver's John] Elway and Grigson did more than simply acquire Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, of course. But without those moves, neither would factor into the discussion. Those were moves 99 percent of fantasy football general managers would have made.

"Schneider and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll found quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round and started him when conventional wisdom called for going with Matt Flynn. They bucked convention again when using a first-round choice for pass-rusher Bruce Irvin (eight sacks). They found a defensive rookie of the year candidate in second-round linebacker Bobby Wagner. One starting guard is seventh-round choice J.R. Sweezy, a player line coach Tom Cable converted from the defensive line.

"Schneider and Carroll pulled off the personnel equivalent of Marshawn Lynch's 67-yard run through New Orleans' defense in the playoffs a couple years ago. Elway and Grigson made moves equating to 20-yard touchdown passes. All three plays would net six points, but some touchdowns are more impressive than others."
Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider has edged a strong field of candidates for NFL executive of the year in voting by ESPN staffers.

Paul Kuharsky of the AFC South blog has the breakdown with comments from voters and his own thoughts. Schneider received eight votes, one more than Denver's John Elway. Indianapolis' Ryan Grigson was third with four votes. Three other execs, including the San Francisco 49ers' Trent Baalke, received votes.

I voted for Schneider because I thought the moves Seattle made required more skill and foresight. Elway and Grigson did more than simply acquire Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, of course. But without those moves, neither would factor into the discussion. Those were moves 99 percent of fantasy football general managers would have made.

Schneider and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll found quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round and started him when conventional wisdom called for going with Matt Flynn. They bucked convention again when using a first-round choice for pass-rusher Bruce Irvin (eight sacks). They found a defensive rookie of the year candidate in second-round linebacker Bobby Wagner. One starting guard is seventh-round choice J.R. Sweezy, a player line coach Tom Cable converted from the defensive line.

Schneider and Carroll pulled off the personnel equivalent of Marshawn Lynch's 67-yard run through New Orleans' defense in the playoffs a couple years ago. Elway and Grigson made moves equating to 20-yard touchdown passes. All three plays would net six points, but some touchdowns are more impressive than others.

Note: I also think St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead should get a mention, based in part on what we discussed here Friday.
Aaron Levine's report about the Seattle Seahawks hoping to bring a Super Bowl to the Northwest sent me back through notes to a 2002 interview with team owner Paul Allen.

The Seahawks were about to open their new stadium at the time, so it was natural to ask Allen whether the organization could bring a Super Bowl to Seattle.

"It is certainly do-able," Allen said at the time. "The league, there hasn’t been one in a northern city for some time. There is some talk of New York and Washington. Certainly, our hat is in the ring if they decide to look beyond cities like that."

The recent positive Super Bowl experience in Indianapolis would seem to help.

"I think probably it will be in another Northern city first," Allen said during that 2002 interview, "and if it’s a positive experience, hopefully some momentum will build."

CenturyLink Field is an open-air facility, however, and that could be a problem. The NFL sent the Super Bowl to Indianapolis knowing Lucas Oil Stadium would shield fans and players from inclement weather. Indianapolis is also a major-league destination for conventions. Skywalks connect downtown hotels.

Steve Rudman of Sports Press Northwest looks at Shaun Alexander's Hall of Fame credentials following Cortez Kennedy's induction. He compares Alexander's production to that for Curtis Martin, something I'll break out later on the blog.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com breaks out pertinent NFL dates and makes this notation about the Cardinals regarding free agency: "The Cards have four restricted free agents (guys who could leave, but the Cards, if they tender an offer, have right of first refusal): running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, linebacker Reggie Walker, safety Rashad Johnson and cornerback Greg Toler." Note: Re-signing unrestricted free agent Calais Campbell has to be the top priority as far as addressing players already on the roster.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch updates the Rams' search for a general manager. The 49ers' Tom Gamble is next up, with Minnesota's George Paton up for a second interview. Thomas: "Gamble will be the ninth candidate to interview for the job. The others: Paton; Joey Clinkscales, vice president of college for the New York Jets; Lake Dawson, vice president of player personnel for Tennessee; Brian Gaine, director of player personnel for Miami; Ryan Grigson, director of player personnel for Philadelphia; Ron Hill, vice president of football operations for the NFL; Steve Keim, director of player personnel for Arizona; and Les Snead, director of player personnel for Atlanta. Grigson has since been hired as general manager by Indianapolis."

Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis says the Rams have signed an offensive lineman from the CFL.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com takes a look at how the 49ers' receivers performed in 2011. On Josh Morgan: "Morgan's rehab is ahead of schedule, and he should be able to participate in the entire offseason program. He is scheduled to be a free agent, and it would seem to make sense for the sides to agree on a contract for next season. In five games, Morgan caught 15 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown."

Eric Branch of the San Francisco 49ers looks at which draft choices the 49ers hold for 2012.

On 49ers' Seely and Colts' coaching job

January, 24, 2012
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Jim Harbaugh has pushed all three of his coordinators, including special-teams coach Brad Seely, for head coaching jobs.

Looks like the Indianapolis Colts are impressed, too.

Fox Sports' Alex Marvez mentions Seely as a candidate for the head coaching vacancy in Indianapolis. The 49ers' special teams were, by just about all accounts, the NFL's best until the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Harbaugh said Monday he'd like to have all his assistant coaches return. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman previously interviewed by phone for the Penn State job.

NFL teams generally do not target special-teams coaches for head coaching vacancies, but Harbaugh's brother, John, has succeeded with Baltimore after following that path.

Seely was the special-teams coach in Cleveland for the 2009-10 seasons. The Colts' new general manager, Ryan Grigson, worked with Browns GM Tom Heckert for Philadelphia from 2004-09. That connection could help inform the Colts on Seely.

While Grigson and Heckert were with the Eagles, they watched John Harbaugh from special-teams and secondary coach to successful head coach with the Ravens. John Harbaugh coached with Philadelphia through the 2007 season.

Circling back on potential Rams GMs

January, 18, 2012
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A couple weeks ago, Paul Kuharsky of the AFC South blog mentioned Ruston Webster and Randy Mueller as potential general manager candidates with coach Jeff Fisher in St. Louis.

Webster is off-limits after the Tennessee Titans made him GM.

Mueller remains in a front-office role with San Diego. Kuharsky mentioned Mueller in connection with Fisher because the Titans had interest in him before they ultimately hired Mike Reinfeldt in 2008, back when Fisher was Tennessee's head coach. Mueller, then with Miami, was not allowed to interview.

Fisher and the Titans met with Webster, Reggie McKenzie, Ron Hill, Mike Ackerley and Charles Bailey before hiring Reinfeldt. Webster and McKenzie are GMs, making them off-limits. Hill works for the NFL. Ackerley is with the Houston Texans. Bailey worked for the Jaguars and is out of the league.

The Rams could in head another direction entirely. These are some names with known connections to Fisher.

Before hiring Fisher, St. Louis interviewed the Atlanta Falcons' Les Snead as a GM candidate. The Rams also interviewed Ryan Grigson, subsequently hired by Indianapolis. Arizona's Steve Keim has also been under consideration, although his candidacy appeared more natural when the Cardinals' Ray Horton was a candidate to become head coach.
The St. Louis Rams' owner, Stan Kroenke, has served the league on its Los Angeles Stadium Working Group.

The Rams' top executive, Kevin Demoff, grew up in Los Angeles. So did their top candidate to become head coach, Jeff Fisher. The team itself spent nearly 50 years in Southern California before moving to St. Louis for the 1995 season.

Can anyone fault the locals for wondering whether or not Kroenke might move the team West once the Rams' stadium lease likely voids following the 2014 season? The league wants another team in the L.A. market, after all.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch seeks to calm the masses without guaranteeing the Rams will remain put for the long term. Miklasz: "The Rams aren't acting like a franchise that is planning to cut and run. They've been aggressive and dedicated in expanding and deepening their community-wide roots; Rams-related charitable activities and reach-out efforts to fans have have increased. Perfect? Heck, no. But the franchise is much more in touch with the STL community and fans. Another example: with Kroenke's go-ahead, Demoff has taken whatever measures necessary to ensure that home games wouldn't be blacked out locally. And in some instances it meant that Kroenke bought up tickets to keep a home game on free TV." Noted: Fisher reportedly would resist a franchise move based on what he experienced when the Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee and became the Titans, but the organization is bigger than any one person below the ownership level.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch updates the Rams' search for a coach and general manager. Denver's Dennis Allen and Philadelphia's Ryan Grigson are both 39 years old.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com quotes Demoff on various coaching-search matters. Demoff: "I think it’s probably fair to say that if he were excited about coming here, we'd be excited to have him. Obviously, there are a lot of things to work through on both sides. You never know how these things are going to turn out, but he's obviously an impressive coach with an impressive résumé and we are excited about what we've heard so far." Noted: The Rams are acting like a team that feels good about its chances. Failing to land Fisher at this point would stand as a bitter disappointment. Does the team have a viable alternative?

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers have no immediate plans to place Delanie Walker on their injured reserve list. They hope Walker could return if the team advanced in the playoffs. Noted: The Super Bowl is still nearly four weeks away. If the 49ers do not need the roster spot, there's no advantage in placing Walker on injured reserve. Keeping him on the 53-man roster also shows respect for a player the team has valued greatly.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com checks in with 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers for thoughts on Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Rogers played for Williams in Washington. Rogers: "We can rush with our front four and get pressure on the guy, so we don't have to blitz a lot. Their front four is -- they're good -- but that's his (Williams') mentality. Your quarterback is going to get that ball out of your hands and they're going to make him throw it quick. If not, they're going to try to hurt him, take him out of the game."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic has this to say about the Cardinals' decision to fire quarterbacks coach Chris Miller: "The easy way to fill the job is to hire Todd Haley as a coordinator. Haley has coached quarterbacks before, too. The Cardinals also could shift Mike Miller, the current offensive coordinator, to quarterbacks coach and/or possibly passing game coordinator. But it sounds as if Miller was going to be let go independent of Haley's potential hiring. The Cardinals would like to speak in depth with Haley about returning to the run the offense, but that hasn't happened yet."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com passes along a comment from coach Ken Whisenhunt regarding Miller's dismissal. Whisenhunt: "In the analysis of where we are and the progress that’s been made, we felt a change at that position was what we needed."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com looks at the team's slow start and strong finish in the running game. Farnsworth: "It was just before they were preparing to play the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens in back-to-back games that Tom Cable put it on the line and his backs. Against a Cowboys run defense that ranked fourth in the league, allowing an average of 93.9 rushing yards, Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks had 135 and 162, respectively. The following week, against a Ravens defense that ranked third in the league against the run, allowing an average of 86.8 rushing yards, Lynch and the Seahawks went for 109 and 119."

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle shares thoughts from Joe Theismann on how the Seahawks should proceed with the 11th or 12th choice in the 2012 draft. Theismann: "I think you make a huge mistake when you go and roll the dice and go after an inexperienced rookie quarterback who's going to have to grow. Don't expect an Andy Dalton-type performance next year." Noted: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll recently said he's changed his philosophy on young quarterbacks. He thinks more of them can succeed right away. Carroll hasn't been afraid to play youngsters, but neither has he drafted a quarterback since coming to Seattle.

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