Monday, April 29, 2013

A general manager - what a concept

It's way too early to call it a rousing success, but the decision by Zygi Wilf and Co. to make Rick Spielman the Minnesota Vikings general manager last year appears to be a wise move.

It's sad that it took the Vikings so long to realize a general manager might help the team function better. You won't find many professional sports teams in the NFL and the three other major sports (baseball, basketball and hockey) that don't have a GM in charge of running the product they put on the field, on the court or on the ice. But until Spielman was promoted, the Vikings thought they could do without it.

Not so, it turns out. Watching Spielman at work during last weekend's draft, as well as his handling of L'Affair Harvin, and the early returns from the 2012 draft, you come away convinced the Vikings have a coherent plan and will stick to it.

Gone is the embarrassing indecision on draft day of the Mike Tice-era Vikings. Clock running out and late pick buffoonery that gave ESPN's Chris Berman material on draft weekend for nearly a decade. Gone is the three-headed personnel department - the Triangle of Authority - where drafting and player procurement was arrived at through consensus.

Having a coach with some authority over who to draft and who to cut and keep on the roster - like Brad Childress had – never seemed like a great move. Coaches are too concerned with the short-term. They need to win and win all the time to keep their jobs. And so roster decisions made by a coach will be skewed too much to what will help them today, rather than what could not only help the team today, but help the team three, five and even 10 years from today.

Those short sighted days are over in Minnesota. Spielman had made it clear he's committed to building the Vikings through the draft, and he's committed to keeping the franchise young and talented - building a sustainable winner rather than a 2009 one-trick pony.

It may turn out that Spielman is more Fran Foley than Jim Finks, but after two seasons on the job, it feels very much like the Vikings have the right person running the show. As a Viking fan, I can feel good about (most) of the moves Spielman is making building the roster. It's been a long time coming.


  1. I remember looking over Spielman's previous body of work when Minnesota named him GM of the Vikings and getting a little nervous. I wonder what has changed? That would be an interesting interview question - to ask him how he operates differently now than he did during his time with Miami.

    I hope the team does well enough for Frazier to get an extension that I can feel comfortable with as a fan. The Spielman/Frazier combo is looking good, and it's exciting to think that the team might be packed full of young talent and worth watching even after some beloved veterans move on from the game.

    1. Peter:

      That would be a good question to ask him, although we'd probably get some non-answer. Perhaps it's just experience and learning from your mistakes.

  2. It helps that he avoided the Te'o fiasco and landed 4 FSU players. I'm just sayin'.

    1. They need to land some Alabama players - they're the team winning BCS championships now.

  3. I remember being skeptical as well after his stint in Miami. He made some mistakes, but Miami had a lot more problems than just GM. Ron Wolf could have failed with that mess. They even made Nick Saban look bad for shit's sake. He's obviously learned something from it.

    We can't really grade this year's draft yet, as much as most people like it. But we can bump him up another notch for making the right call last year after seeing Justin Blackmon getting nailed for his second substance abuse violation. There were people who wanted him to take Blackmon or the corner with that first pick instead of a not so sexy offensive lineman. What a disaster that would have been. Instead he grabs maybe the best player in the draft (non-QB) who made the whole offense better. We can only hope the big ugly from this year can do half as much for the defensive side.