Imagine for a second that our wildest dreams have come true. Imagine that Jerry has fired himself as General Manger of the Dallas Cowboys (yes, you will have to suspend reality a bit). Close your eyes and picture Jerry sitting in front of a giant throng of reporters, all anxiously hoping to get to fire the first question at the new GM of the Cowboys. Imagine this knight in shining armor dismounting his majestic white horse and walking up to the table to sit alongside Jerry. As he sits down, he takes off his helmet, revealing a face Cowboys fans will come to know and love as the man who will finally succeed where Jerry has failed. This man will build a team that will not only win a playoff game, but also the biggest playoff game of all.
But who will this person be? You’ve probably found yourself wondering, “If not Jerry, then who?” According to Jerry, any one of 500 different coaches could lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl victory. Following that logic, surely any one of 500 different executives could assemble the personnel to accomplish that task. Unfortunately, Cowboys fans, Jerry was dead wrong – as he has been time and time again since. Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, Bill Parcells and Wade Phillips have all failed where Barry Switzer and his magic horseshoe managed to achieve. The one constant in all of that mess has been none other than Jerry Jones, General Manager of the Dallas Cowboys.
If not Jerry, then who? Who is the right man for the job? Stephen Jones is a very popular answer around these parts. But his excellent management of the salary cap still does not prove whether or not he has the football acumen to build a championship roster. The most logical answer would have been Scott Pioli – now GM of the Kansas City Chiefs. He had the right pedigree and the track record of having worked alongside Bill Belichick to build the juggernaut that is the New England Patriots. He is no longer available, however, so it has to be someone else. Well, here are three men who have proven that they could be up to the task:
Phil Savage – Former GM of the Cleveland Browns. Savage worked under Ozzie Newsome in Baltimore as Director of Pro Personnel and aided in the construction of a Ravens roster that won the Super Bowl in 2000. He was then promoted to Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Cleveland Browns in 2005. In 2007, Savage was a finalist for the Top NFL Executive award. Even though Ted Thompson won it, many in the media believed that it was Savage who was most deserving. He was subsequently fired because of Cleveland’s flop in the 2008 season. Despite lofty expectations, the Browns could only muster a paltry 4-12 record.
Doug Whaley – Director of Pro Personnel for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whaley has had a hand in the Steelers’ draft success in the last decade. He has played a major role in creating one of the most successful and stable franchises in the NFL. He was a finalist for the Chiefs’ GM position, losing out to Scott Pioli.
Jimmy Raye III – Director of Pro Personnel for the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers have also had tremendous draft success since Raye took over as Director of College Scouting in 2000. Though much of the credit goes to General Manager AJ Smith, one could argue that Raye is the football guy in that outfit. The son of an NFL coach (Jimmy Raye, Jr), Raye would provide youthful enthusiasm – he’s only 40 – and a shrewd eye for talent.
All of these candidates provide some drawbacks of their own, however. Savage was involved in a very public incident in which he used vulgar language to voice his displeasure with a fan. Whaley was involved in a scandal in which an e-mail containing questionable content was forwarded by Larry Zierlein to several high level team executives – and Commissioner Roger Goodell. Both Raye and Whaley are inexperienced when it comes to the duties of General Manager. Finally, Savage has a reputation for taking risks – none more well-known than the trade involving Brady Quinn and a first round pick in 2008.
As is always the case, there are pros and cons that accompany any decision. The selection of a new GM is no different. But one thing is for sure, the biggest PRO in this situation would be the removal of Jerry Jones as GM of the Cowboys. Which would then lead us back to the question at hand: If not Jerry, then who?