NFL Nation: Marc Ross

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' pick of Syracuse defensive tackle Jay Bromley in the third round felt weird even to Bromley, who was pulling a "Gravity" DVD out of a Redbox machine at his local grocery store when he got the call.

"Honestly, I didn't expect a call at all tonight," said a giddy Bromley, who grew up a Giants fan and played college football with two of the players the Giants drafted last year.

So why, then, did the Giants spend the No. 74 pick in the draft on a guy who was mainly projected to go somewhere between the fourth and sixth rounds? Well, he was a team captain at Syracuse. Second-round pick Weston Richburg was a team captain at Colorado State. First-round selection Odell Beckham Jr. was a team leader at LSU.

"We like captains," Giants general manager Jerry Reese said. "Most of these kids are developmental, let's face it. But in this day and age, there aren't a lot of guys you can let sit around and redshirt. These guys, we think they're more mature, and that's attractive for us."

The point is that the Giants, even after the biggest free-agent spree any team went on this offseason, entered this draft with so many needs that they can't afford to draft guys who aren't going to perform right away. And they have decided that the smartest way to speed up the learning curve of their early picks was to seek and draft smart, mature, high-character guys who might not need as much hand-holding as some of their more raw recent early-round picks. (Think: Wilson, David, 2012.)

It's a plan. And it appears to be a well-thought-out one by a team that's admitting to itself that the amount of work it has to do to repair all of its holes is more than will fit into a single offseason. The Giants had a lot to say about the many reasons they liked Beckham and Richburg. And they had a few about Bromley, too. But by the time they were explaining Bromley, the real outline of their 2014 draft plan had come into focus.

"These guys are high-character team captains, hard workers, smart, competitive guys with no issues whatsoever," vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross said. "All three of these guys, we felt, were at the very highest in terms of character."

In the past, the Giants might have used second-round and third-round picks on projects with question marks and upside. Their roster had more depth and they could afford to do that. They can't anymore, so it appears they decided to prioritize present-day makeup, maybe even at the expense of high-ceiling talent. The end result was that they targeted certain specific players and picked them whether they represented value at the pick or not.

"We just sat where we were and made good picks, I think," Reese said.

The final grade on this draft will depend on the extent to which he's right.
PITTSBURGH -- Steelers director of football administration Omar Khan is among those that the Miami Dolphins have requested to interview for their general manager job, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Khan, the Steelers' point man on contract negotiations and a key behind-the-scenes figure in the organization, has twice interviewed for general manager openings. Khan, 36, was a runner-up last year for the New York Jets job, which went to John Idzik.

The Dolphins, per Schefter, have also requested interviews with Cardinals vice president of player personnel Jason Licht and Browns assistant general manager Ray Farmer.

Giants vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross and Titans vice president of personnel Lake Dawson will interview for the opening in Miami, according to Schefter, as well as Dolphins assistant general manager Brian Gaine.

The loss of Khan, who I profiled here, would be a significant one for the Steelers, but his reputation is such that it seems only a matter of time before he is at least offered the opportunity to run his own team.

The Steelers have braced for his possible exit as they hired Samir Suleiman last year to assist Khan in contract negotiations and salary cap planning.

Suleiman had spent the previous 10 years as the Rams' director of football operations.
MIAMI -- Three additional names have emerged Thursday for the Miami Dolphins in their search to find their next general manager.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Tennessee Titans vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson and New York Giants vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross will both interview for Miami’s job. ESPN.com Cleveland Browns reporter Pat McManamon also reports the Browns granted permission for Miami to interview Cleveland assistant general manager Ray Farmer.

The Dolphins will begin their general manager interviews on Friday. Former general manager Jeff Ireland parted ways with the team on Tuesday after six seasons.
The Carolina Panthers’ search for a general manager won’t be limited to the borders of the United States.

Long-time Canadian Football League general manager Jim Popp is getting some attention and likely will be one of five or six candidates to interview for the job next week, according to league sources. Although Popp has spent the bulk of his career in Canada, he does have some ties to the Carolinas.

He’s a native of Elkin, N.C., and also was an assistant coach at The Citadel and the University of North Carolina. Owner Jerry Richardson is a North Carolina native, and has always shown a willingness to hire people from the Carolinas.

The Panthers also reportedly will talk to Dave Gettelman, Marc Ross and George Paton, and there has been one report that they also could be interested in Lake Dawson.

But, as I’ve been saying, don’t rule out the possibility of Richardson simply promoting interim general manager Brandon Beane. Although Beane doesn’t have a deep scouting background, he’s a longtime Carolina employee, who worked his way up through the ranks to become the right-hand man of former general manager Marty Hurney and had been taking on added responsibilities in recent years. Beane already knows the landscape in Carolina, and has a good relationship with Richardson.

Saturday’s news that Ron Rivera will stay as the coach also could work in Beane’s favor. Rivera and Beane worked well together, and the Panthers won the final four games of the season and got contributions from several players Beane signed.

Ron Rivera enters 2013 on hot seat

January, 5, 2013
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Ron Rivera is staying as the coach of the Carolina Panthers, but that doesn’t mean he’s off the hot seat.

Owner Jerry Richardson’s Saturday decision to keep his coach means Rivera will enter the 2013 season on a seat that might be the hottest in the league. Richardson wants to win and he wants to win immediately.

[+] EnlargeRon Rivera
Sam Sharpe/US PresswirePanthers coach Ron Rivera will have to win next season with a roster that won't be bolstered much in free agency.

The only NFL owner to play in the league is very impatient, because the Panthers haven’t had a winning season since 2008 and haven’t won a playoff game since 2005. So why does Richardson think Rivera can get the job done in 2013?

There’s no doubt Richardson likes the fact Rivera, and the Panthers finished 2012 on a four-game winning streak. Richardson also must believe that Rivera can turn around his early season trend of losing close games.

I can see Rivera turning things around and getting the Panthers to the playoffs, which would be the only way he’ll keep his job in 2014. But it’s not automatic.

Rivera probably will have to tweak his coaching staff a little bit. I’ve heard the chemistry on the offensive coaching staff wasn’t great. Rivera also is going to have to change his ways a little bit, perhaps becoming a bit more aggressive, and it wouldn’t hurt him in the eyes of the fans to become just a bit more animated on the sidelines.

But the biggest thing Rivera needs to do is get more out of the players that stay on his roster. The Panthers face a salary-cap nightmare, and lots of veterans are going to depart just to get the Panthers under the cap in mid-March.

The Panthers aren’t going to be players in free agency. Their cap situation means the only way they can add any talent to the roster will be through the draft.

That means they have to get more out of the players that stay on the roster. But I still can see the nucleus for a playoff team.

Guys like quarterback Cam Newton, linebacker Luke Kuechly, defensive end Charles Johnson, center Ryan Kalil and running back Jonathan Stewart still are going to be around. They’ll have to step up and be better than ever, and so will some other guys.

If that happens, Rivera will be just fine. If not, the Panthers will be looking for his replacement at this time next year.

Now that Rivera is set, the Panthers have to hire a new general manager. There’s talk that Dave Gettelman, Marc Ross and Lake Dawson are candidates from the outside, and there could be others.

But I think there’s at least a decent chance interim general manager Brandon Beane could become the permanent general manager, but that might come with some restructuring of the personnel department. The Panthers already have pro personnel director Mark Koncz, college scouting director Don Gregory and salary-cap manager Rob Rogers in place, and all are competent. But fans might not be very happy if the Panthers simply elevate Beane and stick with what they’ve got. I can see a situation in which Beane is promoted, but someone with a strong personnel background is brought in to oversee the personnel department.

However the Panthers structure things, they have to win in 2013, because Richardson isn't going to be patient any longer.

Panthers taking small steps

January, 5, 2013
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Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson reportedly is meeting with Ron Rivera on Saturday, but that doesn’t mean the coach’s fate is going to be decided immediately.

Indications are that Richardson wants to hear what lessons Rivera learned from a 7-9 season and what personnel and staff changes he wants to make. In other words, it’s almost like Rivera is interviewing for his job. If he can convince Richardson he can win big next season, he’ll stay. If not, he’ll go.

But I’m not expecting Richardson to make the decision immediately. I think he’ll listen to Rivera and then take a little time to make a decision. But Richardson can’t wait too long, especially if he is going to make a change. Other vacancies are being filled and the pool of candidates is shrinking.

Plus, deciding Rivera’s fate isn’t the only major issue Richardson is facing. He also has to decide on a general manager. Interim general manager Brandon Beane is expected to get an interview. Several personnel executives from around the league (Dave Gettelman, Marc Ross and Lake Dawson) also are likely to be interviewed. And at least one candidate that was not employed by an NFL team this season already interviewed before the season ended.

Richardson has moved very slowly on all this. But at least he and Rivera are finally sitting down to talk. Again, I don’t think that means a decision will come Saturday. But, at least this is a step toward some clarity on who will coach the Panthers in 2013.
It’s sounding more and more to me like owner Jerry Richardson, not a new general manager, will be the one to decide if Ron Rivera remains as coach of the Carolina Panthers.

Payton
Rivera
Joseph Person reports the much-awaited meeting between Rivera and Richardson will take place this weekend. This is just my hunch, but I don’t think Richardson is heading into that meeting with any decision already made. If he had already decided Rivera wasn’t coming back, I think the coach already would have been fired.

I think this will be a meeting where Rivera is asked what he learned from this season and what changes he has planned for staff and personnel if he stays. If Richardson likes what he hears, I think there’s a good chance Rivera, who won his final four games to finish 7-9, will stay.

According to Person, a choice on a general manager won’t come until after Richardson and Rivera meet. Interim general manager Brandon Beane is a candidate to take over the position on a permanent basis. New York Giants’ executives Marc Ross and Dave Gettelman also reportedly will interview and Person reports Tennessee Titans personnel guru Lake Dawson also could be a candidate. The Panthers also interviewed at least one candidate, who is not presently employed by another team, before the regular season ended.

Richardson is moving very slowly, but that might not be a bad thing. He clearly is agonizing over the Rivera decision. That’s understandable because Richardson likes Rivera and there have been some signs he can be a successful head coach, but the results so far haven’t been spectacular.

It’s going to be up to Rivera to use this weekend to convince Richardson he can get the Panthers to take the next step.

Jets already have two GM targets

December, 31, 2012
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The first two names have surfaced in the New York Jets' general manager search.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Jets are seeking permission to talk to San Francisco 49ers player personnel director Tom Gamble. The Jaguars also want to interview Gamble, Schefter reports. ESPNNewYork.com also is reporting the Jets will interview Marc Ross, the Giants' director of college scouting.

Gamble has done a good job helping build San Francisco into a contender. The 49ers narrowly lost in the NFC Championship Game to the Giants last season and currently have the No. 2 seed in the playoffs this year.

Ross helped build two Super Bowl teams with the Giants in 2011 and 2008. He is obviously familiar with the New York market working for the Jets’ cross-town rival.

The key issue for the Jets will be finding a general manager who can co-exist with colorful head coach Rex Ryan. Some top general manager candidates may prefer an opportunity where they can pick their own head coach.
The Chicago Bears have released a preliminary list of candidates to replace former general manager Jerry Angelo. All four have been granted permission to interview with the team, but a statement on the Bears' website made clear that additional candidates have not been ruled out and that current director of player personnel Tim Ruskell remains in play.

The four outsiders are:
I don't want to pass much judgment on this list because I don't totally know what the Bears are up to. It's unusual for a team to announce its full slate of candidates for such an important job. Is this a new era of transparency? Or could there be a stealth candidate they're distracting us from? Call me a conspiracy theorist, but lots of crazy stuff happens this time of year. Could it be an attempt to demonstrate due diligence before ultimately hiring Ruskell?

There have been rumblings that Ruskell has a better-than-even chance to get the job. Let's just say that the Bears haven't stacked the deck with this pool. None of the four has experience as a general manager.

The most intriguing candidate might be Ross, who has been a rising star since the Philadelphia Eagles made him the league's youngest college scouting director in 2000, when he was 27. He is a Princeton graduate and has a master's degree from the University of Massachusetts.

Stay tuned.

How Seahawks can help Carroll succeed

January, 11, 2010
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Pete Carroll has pretty much confirmed his imminent hiring by the Seattle Seahawks.

Now comes the important part.

How much power have the Seahawks agreed to give him? I suspect it's less than advertised.

The Seahawks have already tried the coach-as-king setup. Mike Holmgren had the leverage when they hired him in 1999. Naming Holmgren general manager was the price of getting him as coach. Holmgren's run as GM wasn't a total failure, but neither was it successful enough for him to keep the title.

[+] EnlargePete Carroll
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireHow much power Pete Carroll will have in Seattle remains to be seen.
Bestowing another coach with similar powers wouldn't make any sense, particularly if that coach lacked Holmgren's NFL credentials.

The Seahawks have also tried the opposite approach. They've armed a GM with powers over the coach. That worked well for a while, with Tim Ruskell helping get Holmgren's team to a Super Bowl, but not for the long haul. Once the team pried away GM powers from Holmgren, all future arrangements came with expiration dates because Holmgren so badly wanted the "juice" -- his word -- to command all levels of the organization.

This might be time for a more balanced approach. Let the GM oversee the draft and free agency. Give the coach control of the roster. Let both report to ownership directly or indirectly.

Floyd Reese, one of the candidates Seattle is considering for the GM job, worked alongside Jeff Fisher in such a system with Tennessee. The setup wasn't perfect, but it seemed to work pretty well for an extended period.

Ruskell's resignation and Jim Mora's firing have given the Seahawks a chance to synchronize their coach and GM for the first time since Holmgren held both titles. The change can be refreshing as long as the Seahawks hire the right people.

The reported candidates for the GM job -- Reese, Pittsburgh's Omar Kahn, the Giants' Marc Ross and Green Bay's John Schneider -- have varied backgrounds and qualifications.

It's still a little baffling to see the Seahawks apparently ignore a key architect for the team that dethroned them in the NFC West.

Steve Keim arose as a potential candidate almost immediately after Ruskell stepped down, but the Cardinals' director of player personnel hasn't yet surfaced as someone the team plans to interview. Perhaps the Seahawks were too busy conducting internal audits and clandestine interviews with Carroll to notice the Cardinals' 10-win regular season and 51-45 victory over the Packers in the wild-card round Sunday.

Keim has helped stock the Cardinals with young talent. Beanie Wells, Early Doucet, Steve Breaston and LaRod Stephens-Howling looked good against Green Bay. Think the Seahawks could use a cornerback such as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? Think they could use a defensive end as physically imposing as Calais Campbell?

Carroll could certainly use building blocks of that caliber.

I'm not convinced Carroll is the right coach, but neither is there enough evidence to say he's the wrong man for the job -- unless that job gives him powers far beyond those a coach typically enjoys. This team needs a qualified personnel evaluator to work alongside Carroll, not necessarily over him, and certainly not beneath him.

Packers exec on Seattle's GM list

January, 10, 2010
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Greetings from University of Phoenix Stadium, where players are just starting to walk on the field for pregame warmups. Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin isn’t one of them, however. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday that Boldin (knee, ankle) is unlikely to play.

One Packers note to pass along: ESPN’s John Clayton reports that Green Bay director of football operations John Schneider is under consideration for the Seahawks general manager job, presumably under new coach/president Pete Carroll. Other candidates include Pittsburgh executive Omar Kahn and New York Giants college scouting director Marc Ross.

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