Evaluating GMs

Admittedly, my primary sport is baseball. I've written four books about baseball and spend more time studying fantasy baseball than anything on the football side of things. In fact, friends of mine and I often joke about whether drafting Sammy Baugh would be a wise pick in the next fantasy draft. Obviously, there is a whole lot more than I don't know than there is that I know. So, when talking about general managers and other front office personnel I often keep things generic.

There are three key questions I ask when I am looking at a general manager in any of the three major sports. First, do they get more decisions right than they get right. We just might call this their batting average. If they are hitting better than .500 then they have a fighting chance to be successful. Secondly, if they are getting some decisions wrong, are they the bigger ones or the smaller ones? Obviously, we might look at the Bears here. Sure, their GM could say he got more than half of the decisions right. However, he seemed to repeatedly miss on quarterback and may have missed on head coach as well. Those are tough to overcome. Finally, are you able to move on from your mistakes quickly or do they seem to linger like a fart in an elevator?

Of course, when analyzing Nick Caserio, all three of these questions are in a state of flux. I'd argue that he has gotten more than half of his decisions right. He managed to sign four or five solid defensive players that could stick around on the 2022 team. None of them are all-pros and you could argue none of them are quality starters, but all of them are depth players that would be rotation players on good defenses. Considering the low contract equity they got, we can consider that a win.

You can also claim he hit on all of his draft picks. Davis Mills was the second highest rated rookie QB by the end of the season. No, he is not better than Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, or Trey Lance moving forward, but considering where he was selected we can call it a win. All of the rookies played and contributed over the course of the season. Roy Lopez turned into a starting defensive tackle and he was taken in the sixth round. Again, those are all wins.

He made some head scratching movies. Trading for Marcus Cannon seems foolish at this point. Re-signing David Johnson was dumb from the moment the ink dried. The Shaq Lawson trade was also a mistake in retrospect. In fact, reworking a number of deals caused some cap problems for 2022 and there was no tangible benefit to any of it. However, he proved he can move on from mistakes when he traded Lawson away and when Cannon never really saw the field.

One could argue that nothing he has done to date registers as a major decision. David Culley doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things and assuming he gets his walking papers we can leave that behind us. Johnson will surely be shown the door following the season and the cap problems will likely clear for the most part when the calendar shifts to 2023. So, he has managed to create a clean slate as far as major decisions go. He has to pick a new head coach that can hopefully establish something worthwhile. He has to trade Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil as well. He will need to do something with all of that draft equity. Those are the major decisions moving forward.

One can ask what he was thinking when he hired David Culley. That might not seem like an important question in the grand scheme of things, but it really is. The question is what exactly he thought we would be getting in Culley. If he thought he would get a nice guy that everyone likes, but who really can't be trusted with anything then we can likely trust Caserio with the really important decisions. If he thought we would get a good football coach who could build a culture then we really can't trust his judgment. So, whether Culley gets canned or not in the coming days really isn't that important. We know he isn't going to be the guy when these games really matter. That could be 2022 or 2023. We want to know that the guy that's really in charge can recognize basic things that the rest of us already know. If he can't then we are wasting our time.