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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Advice

With the hiring of new Panthers GM Dave Gettleman more or less official at this point, I'll urge on him two points that'll be critical in my opinion for longterm success.

*Expand scout spending

There are still tons of teams that spend only a minimum on scouting.

 Not to pick on Carolina, but they had a GM with no scouting background, and a shortened pro personnel department (which consisted of, until 2011, just Mark Koncz, director).  Carolina doesn't list its scouts, and Dorsey's the only known assistant; I have no idea who works under college director Don Gregory.  So it's hard to say exactly how many true scouts you have in the building.  Consequently, coaches have had more say, and more power, even if they're not good at it.  And their job performance might not be based on scouting at all - it being a part time job.

The Oakland Raiders, for instance, never had a war room until last year.  It was just Al Davis in his office.  The Bengals barely paid any scouts for the longest - first Paul Brown, then son Mike, made the decisions, and there was minimal input.  

Compare that to this - the Giants have a GM/VP; an Assistant GM; a Senior Pro Personnel man (Gettleman, up until today) backed by a Pro Personnel Director already in line to replace Gettleman; a College Scouting Director (Marc Ross), and a Football Ops guy who assists the GM in all duties (essentially, an assistant to the GM who helps with the cap and all scouting).  They put 9 scouts under Ross - three with the title of Executive Scout, which I imagine is an analogy to most team's National Scout - and three pro scouts.

Consider that this is a billion dollar franchise whose annual payroll is $120 million.  A general manager might make  $2 million to start; two directors at $150,000 apiece, a cap guy at $75,000, and let's say the team in question spends well and gives their scouts $50,000 apiece. Let's give one to pro scouting and four to college.   So you're in for under $3 million, for a roster of $120 million in spending.  2.5% of the budget, to acquire and learn every player that gets that $120 million.

So, spend.  Doing it the Giants' way costs more - Jerry Reese probably makes double that; let's leave the other numbers the same but expand for more people.  We're still barely spending $6 million.  But you have a lot more eyes out there, gathering information.

So with that said, here's how you spend:

-Assistant GM.  Without this role, there's only one guy with authority to spread around; an assistant adds another set of eyes.  A guy who might be able to let a GM be in two places at once.  Find a good candidate with at least two disciplines on his resume; two from between a group of of cap management, college scouting, pro scouting, and coaching.

-Experienced Pro and College Scouting Directors.

A lot of teams promote area or national scouts.  That's fine, but let's go a little higher and get guys who have done it before.  Don't skimp because pro scouting might be OK with Gettleman backed by a young guy.

-More scouts

4 national scouts, and 4-5 area scouts.  That allows each corner of the nation to be covered with redundancy in person, followed by plenty of coverage for workouts and pro days in addition to the executive staff.

Three pro scouts, deployed in this format: scout 1 is assigned week 1; scout 2 and 3 get week 2 and 3, and so on.  That way, each pro scout ,when the team faces that opponent, has three weeks dedicated advanced scouting for the team to use.   As well, each pro scout is responsible for one division opponent to study all year, every week.  In addition, I'd deploy the Pro Scouting Director to self scout weekly; watching the team from the outside to give input to coaches on tendencies and to have continual knowledge of personnel.

-Sabermetrician

I think the team should have a czar of advanced statistics/sabermetrics as well.  While this isn't a specific title that I expect to be given (the Giants have a Director of Football Information), I anticipate the team to use advanced stats as an aid to scouting, and there needs to be someone who can anchor that analysis.  So with that said, here's point #2:

*Pro Analytics

The Giants were one of the teams that used profootballfocus.com's analyis (which comes with some advanced statistics, charting, and grading) in 2011, and are said to believe in the ideal of advanced statistics in general.  For instance, PFF's analysis breaks down common sense info (corners and WRs playing in the slot, for instance) with more detail, and with more info (targets, drops, QB rating).  It gives an applicable way of looking at OL play in terms of pressure and overall play, as another example.

Advanced stats aren't an end-all approach, but they take things like emotion ("but this guy was a Pro Bowler last year!", or "but this guy's given everything to the franchise for a decade!") out of the equation, so to speak.  It feels like, if the Giants were doing it, that approach will have a bit of a home here; if not for game use, it likely will help standardize college and pro scouting to a point, and help decision making in ways that 40 times and tape won't touch.  It won't replace those, but it'll help.  And since agents are using advanced stats to negotiate, this levels the playing field on that end, too.


Hopefully those two ideals make sense.  That's what I'd do, and hopefully Gettleman might get around to doing the same.
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