Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Packers were willing to let a first-round pick sit on the bench for a few years.
Successful franchises are patient. This has to be an organizational philosophy and trickle down from the ownership to the groundskeeper. It takes time to put together a successful team, especially when the team is missing so many key factors.
In many cases, teams are not willing to take the time required. We want to think that franchises can turn on a dime, but that’s rarely true. Every couple of years, impatient teams fire their leadership and start over. If you’ve ever made a good beef stew, you know that it needs to simmer for an unholy amount of time before the flavor fully develops.
Impatient teams are basically pulling a perfectly good stew off the stove and pouring it down the drain. The only reason to change the leadership after a short period of time is when something is clearly wrong, but that’s not the case as much as fans believe.
Since Dan Synder purchased the Washington Redskins in 1999, they haven’t been patient enough to let a system develop. Norv Turner was kept for two years after Synder bought the team, Marty Schottenheimer coached for a year and Steve Spurrier lasted just two years.
Joe Gibbs came back for four seasons and made the playoffs twice before retiring, yet Synder didn’t learn that stability was the key. Jim Zorn was hired and fired after two years before Mike Shanahan was hired in 2010.
Synder allowed Shanahan the time to turn things around, even after recording only 11 wins in his first two seasons. Shanahan’s third season as head coach was a success, and the Redskins made just their fourth playoff appearance in the last 14 years.
For the first time, Synder’s team also had a legitimate franchise quarterback.
Patient teams often use the best-player available strategy in the draft and don’t trade away valuable future draft picks without knowing that they are getting a key ingredient to the success of the franchise. These teams don’t reach in the draft to fill a need, because they know they will be able to fill that need in another way.
The Green Bay Packers demonstrated this philosophy by selecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the first round and letting him sit on the bench for three seasons behind Brett Favre. Not many organizations would have enough patience to let a first-round quarterback sit on the bench through a coaching change and two disappointing seasons. Rodgers is now arguably the best quarterback in the league.
A lack of patience by any key person can cripple a franchise that may otherwise have what it takes to be successful. It doesn’t seem practical to be patient when you see quick turnarounds and fan unrest, but it is important.