When it comes to building an NFL roster, hierarchies vary from team to team. Some organizations are driven by general managers, others by owners, a few by head coaches -- and of course, many franchises divvy up checks and balances. Albert Breer takes an in-depth look at all 32 power structures in this eight-part, division-by-division series, which aims to answer one simple question for each NFL team: Who's *really in charge? Read the NFC East breakdown below. Click here for other divisions.*
Owner:Jerry Jones, 25th year
General Manager: Jones
Head Coach:Jason Garrett, 4th year
Other front-office notables:Stephen Jones, COO/Director of Player Personnel; Tom Ciskowski, Assistant Director of Player Personnel; Will McClay, Director of Football Research; Todd Williams, Director of Football Administration.
Who's really in charge? There's no question about this one: It's owner/general manager Jerry Jones. Jones has final say over all aspects of the football operation, from the draft to the 53-man roster, and is as involved as any owner, with the possible exception of Cincinnati Bengals boss Mike Brown.
COO and director of player personnel Stephen Jones and head coach Jason Garrett are the two football-side employees who report directly to the owner. Garrett oversees his staff, while Jerry Jones' son sits atop the personnel department, fielding reports from assistant director of player personnel Tom Ciskowski, director of football research Will McClay and director of football administration Todd Williams. Ciskowski oversees college scouting and McClay pro scouting, while Williams handles contracts (which Adam Prasifka helps on) and all football operations (training camp, video, equipment, etc.).
The Valley Ranch model has evolved over the years since Jimmy Johnson was coach, but it hasn't changed drastically. The head coach typically gains more of a voice over time on personnel moves and the roster, unless performance doesn't merit it.
An outside perspective from an AFC executive: "I would say, speaking organizationally about the Cowboys, you shouldn't make any mistake about this: They are committed to winning. Now, the way they go about it, if you're thinking from a traditional sense, is a little different, because the guy making the decisions owns the organization, and he's not just making football decisions, but all the decisions. The way I know it to be, the scouts have opinions and are encouraged to express them, and the personnel people have input. But the guy (Jones) inherits a lot of responsibility, and that creates different dynamics because of how decisions are made."
Owners: Mara Family, Tisch Family
President/CEO:John Mara, 9th year
General Manager:Jerry Reese, 7th year
Head Coach:Tom Coughlin, 10th year
Other front-office notables:Kevin Abrams, Assistant GM; Marc Ross, Vice President of Player Evaluation; Ken Sternfeld, Director of Pro Personnel; Matt Harriss, Director of Football Operations.
Who's really in charge? The Giants' model has remained largely unchanged since George Young was named general manager in 1979. The GM leads football operations, so in this case, Jerry Reese has authority over the draft and the final 53-man roster. Coach Tom Coughlin has authority over the 46-man game-day roster and oversees his staff. The goal, ultimately, is to have an agenda-free building with a number of different people invested in the final product and meaningful delegation of responsibilities.
Both Coughlin and Reese report to owner John Mara, who, like his late father, Wellington, is very much an on-site, in-the-office-every-day owner. As one club source said, "Owning a team is not a hobby for him." Mara is in on personnel meetings, is informed on all football decisions, listens to reports and serves as a sounding board, but he entrusts Reese and Coughlin to do their jobs. Co-owner Steve Tisch isn't there on a day-to-day basis like Mara, but Reese keeps him informed on all football matters.
Reese's top lieutenants are college director Marc Ross, who's been a candidate for GM openings the past two years, and pro director Ken Sternfeld. The latter moved into Dave Gettleman's old role in 2012, a year ahead of Gettleman leaving to become the Carolina Panthers' GM. Reese also leans on assistant GM Kevin Abrams and director of football operations Matt Harriss on contracts and the cap. But as a former scout and a guy who's spent all 20 of his NFL seasons with the Giants, Reese is intimately involved at every level of the operation.
An outside perspective from an NFC personnel executive: "You know the coach is heavily involved in everything there, but that's because they have the right coach. Coughlin is really good from that standpoint, very much knows what he's doing, and that trickles down. It's why they're so thorough; you know there's gonna be no rock unturned. And I respect Jerry a lot. You hardly ever see him on the road, but he trusts the guys around him to do their job, and he's also very, very thorough, and a good decision maker. Top to bottom, they do a nice job."
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Who's really in charge? There were few coaches who had the power of Andy Reid in Philadelphia, so the first few post-Reid months have been transitional for the organization. As it stands now, three men -- president Don Smolenski, GM Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly -- report directly to owner Jeffrey Lurie, with Roseman and Kelly responsible for the football side.
The Eagles have been very secretive when it comes to their structure beyond that. Roseman has taken on many of Reid's old responsibilities, in running free agency and the draft, but it's clear that Kelly has a strong voice. In fact, two sources say Kelly has final say on the 53-man roster. Also, Kelly's staff delivered very detailed presentations to the scouting side on the measureables and traits that Kelly will look for at every position. When former president Joe Banner left in 2012, contracts and the cap fell to Roseman, who has concentrated on this area over the course of his 14 total years with the club.
Roseman was also once the top operative for his predecessor, Tom Heckert (now with the Denver Broncos), a role that current Indianapolis Colts GM Ryan Grigson played for Roseman two years ago. Roseman successfully lured Tom Gamble away from the San Francisco 49ers to fill Grigson's old shoes and become VP of player personnel in February. College director Anthony Patch has gained influence in scouting, too, and Roseman has surrounded himself with experienced hands in ex-GMs Rick Mueller and Tom Donahoe.
Lurie will sit in on meetings at times and wants to know what's happening, but the owner has always allowed his coaches and football executives to handle that side of the Eagles' operation.
An outside perspective from an NFC executive: "It's clear that they've hit the reset button overall, and since Howie's relationship with Chip was so key to them getting him, they should be on the same page. They're both aggressive and into the nuances. Howie's smart. He gets it. Sometimes, he gets a bad rap, but he understands the league, and you can see it with Gamble -- hiring him was smart. ... It's also interesting because everyone considers Chip an innovator, but what he ran in college, no one expects him to do that in the NFL. ... It's the quickness, the practices, the funny billboards, all that stuff, how he took that program (Oregon) and made it so popular. He's extremely innovative. You wanna see how it'll look. Some of it will translate. Some of it won't. Everyone's curious."
Who's really in charge? There are few true coach-driven organizations left, but this is one of them. Mike Shanahan holds the title of vice president of football operations, and he has control over all football decisions, including the draft and 53-man roster. His clout mirrors the power he had during his later years in Denver, when the team leveled off a bit but was successful drafting and developing young guys like Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Ryan Clady and Elvis Dumervil.
Bruce Allen's role as general manager is wide-ranging, and he's vital in creating the bridge between the coaching and scouting sides of the building. Director of player personnel Scott Campbell and director of pro personnel Morocco Brown are Shanahan's eyes and ears while he's coaching, since generally Shanny focuses on the on-field product during the season. There was one prominent exception to that: In 2011, he started looking at tape on college quarterbacks late in the year. Washington wound up trading up and taking Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall selection of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Snyder still has strong opinions and is never afraid to share them, but the owner seems to have taken a bit of a step back on the football side, having entrusted the reins to Shanahan. Both Allen and Shanahan report to Snyder, and Allen has proven to be a vital piece in effectively connecting ownership to the football operation.
An outside perspective from an NFC executive: "The Redskins might have the most experienced brain trust of any team. Mike's very well-respected through the league, won multiple Super Bowls, very successful. And Bruce has been an Executive of the Year (with the Oakland Raiders in 2002), and he's known as a 'coach's GM,' and will do anything to help make sure things run smooth. And I think last year, with the quarterback trade, they showed they're willing to be bold. You just won't find a more experienced, well-versed coach/GM team than those two. And I don't think it's necessarily that Snyder's not as involved, as it is that he's found a pair he's very happy with. That's kind of the natural evolution for an owner, and you're seeing it there."