Schneider Is the Right Choice for 'Hawks GM

NorthwestFootball.net
Posted Jan 14, 2010


If building a perennial playoff contender in Seattle is the goal, then Green Bay Packers executive John Schneider is the right man for the Seattle Seahawks general manager job.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times has identified who he feels is the best candidate for the Seattle Seahawks general manager position, and Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune named his pony in the race.

I’m not about to do an FJM-style fisking of either column, for two reasons:

  1. I agree with Brewer that, given the way Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke described what duties the general manager would be responsible for, New York Giants Director of College Scouting Marc Ross would be an excellent choice, and
  2.  I’ve already shown that Reese, an executive with an outstanding reputation throughout the league, had just four winning seasons in 13 years as the Oilers/Titans’ general manager, in part because his administration bungled several drafts (the last time Reese had the 6th overall pick, which the Seahawks have this year, he took Adam “Pacman” Jones) and condemned the franchise to salary cap hell.

Given how prominent Seahawks Vice President of Football Administration John Idzik’s role in the new management structure was when Leiweke addressed the Seattle media earlier this week, Pittsburgh Steelers Football & Business Administration Director Omar Khan probably isn’t in the mix anymore, if he ever even was.

That leaves one outside name for the general manager’s position: Green Bay Packers Director of Football Operations John Schneider.

So, in 866 words or less, and taking into account that I wouldn’t have hired the head coach before hiring the general manager, here’s the case for John Schneider as the next general manager of the Seattle Seahawks.

Schneider, 38, has 17 years experience working in an NFL personnel department, the last eight of which spent assisting the Green Bay Packers general managers in long-term roster planning, both in terms of free agency and the NFL Draft, planning for injury and salary cap considerations, and exploring possible trade opportunities.

Draft Acumen

Like all clubs, the Packers have drafted their fair share of clunkers in the first- and second-rounds (Ahmad Carroll, Justin Harrell, Brian Brohm), but they’ve been successful on early-round picks like Nick Barnett (2003), Aaron Rodgers and Nick Collins (2005), Clay Matthews (2009), while unearthing hidden gems like Aaron Kampman (5th round, 2002), Johnny Jolly (6th round, 2006), and tight end Jermichael Finley and guard Josh Sitton (3rd and 4th rounds, 2008) in later rounds.

A good example of the scouting excellence the Packers organization has shown is Brad Jones, a seventh-round outside linebacker from Colorado who started the final seven games of the 2009 season for an injured Kampman, posting four quarterback sacks in the final month of the season.   

12 of Green Bay’s 22 starters from this past Sunday’s playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals were drafted since 2002, including wide receiver Greg Jennings, who was acquired after the Packers swapped second-round picks with the New England Patriots, picking up an additional third-round pick in the process.

The Patriots chose Florida wide receiver Chad Jackson with the 36th pick, and he caught 14 passes before injuries and poor play flushed him out of the league. Green Bay chose Jennings, a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver with 246 receptions, 3,957 yards and 28 touchdowns in four seasons in the NFL, with the 52nd pick, while also drafting Jason Spitz, the Packers’ starting center, with the third round pick from New England.

16 months later, the Packers traded a future sixth-round pick to the New York Giants for Ryan Grant. In three seasons, Grant has over 3,400 yards rushing, not including a franchise playoff record 201 yards rushing against the Seahawks in the 2007 Divisional Playoffs.

With an aging pair of bookends (Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher) on the offensive line, the Packers have devoted multiple draft picks to the offensive tackle position the last few years. Tony Moll, Daryn Colledge, Allen Barbre, Breno Giacomini, Jamon Meredith, T.J. Lang, and Sitton—all played tackle in college. While they haven’t all panned out at the next level (Lang was a rookie in ‘09) they reinforce the theory that teams should always be drafting tackles, because if they don’t work out, more often than not they can move inside to guard, whereas the opposite (college guards moving to tackle in the NFL) is hardly ever the case. Both Colledge and Sitton have proven to be solid starters at the guard spot.

Long-Term Planning

I know that in the corporate world, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” is a commonly asked question, but an NFL franchise’s long-term view needs to extend beyond that. Teams that push all their chips to the middle of the table for a 2-3 year window end up like the 2008-09 Seahawks, or the many old, cap-strapped non-playoff teams Reese built in Tennessee.

Teams need to draft well, be smart in free agency and with their own free agents, and need to be unafraid to make the tough decisions necessary for sustained success in this league.  

Green Bay has drafted well over the years, especially when it comes to skill-position players (something the ‘Hawks desperately need), and unlike Seattle, they rarely venture into the free agent market.

The Packers had just three unrestricted free agents playing key roles for them in 2009: Nose tackle Ryan Pickett, cornerback Charles Woodson (the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2009), and Brandon Chillar, an under-the-radar FA signing in 2008 who has outplayed former #1 pick A.J. Hawk and quietly signed a long-term extension in December.

Thanks to this “build through the draft” approach, the Packers entered 2009 with over $20 million in salary cap space. This figure was after signing Rodgers, Grant, and Jennings to long-term extensions that have each player locked up throughout their primes, and plenty of cap room remains to extend some looming expiring contracts for key members of the defense.

And if there’s any question about whether or not the 38-year old Schneider has the testicular fortitude to stand up to Pete Carroll on draft day, or at the opening bell of free agency should Carroll want to break the bank for former USC running back LenDale White to come to the PNW and drain it of its salmon supply, keep in mind that Schneider was part of a front office that stayed true to its long-term vision and traded Brett Favre to the New York Jets.

After one non-playoff season, the Packers bounced right back in 2009 and appear set to be a perennial playoff, if not Super Bowl contender for the next decade.

In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you’d like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here.


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