Ted Thompson and the 8 Best Front-Office Minds in the NFL Today
The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl a few weeks ago, so one area to look at when determining what went right is the front office.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson has had a lot to do with how the Packers got to the podium for the Lombardi Trophy presentation, and the front office guys get lost in the credit as much as they face criticism for when things go wrong.
Taking a look around the league, it's worth noting which front offices are getting it right and which ones are getting it wrong. The ones who are getting it wrong need to take a look at this list and figure out why they are not on it.
Here is a look at which fans have front offices they can trust.
Special Mention: Bill Belichick and Floyd Reese
Bill Belichick is the unquestioned genius behind the Patriots' success. He's had help from Scott Pioli over the years, and Pioli will get his credit on this list.
Now Floyd Reese is the general manager. His time in Tennessee overall was good, but no Super Bowl victories came out of his time there. He hasn't been in New England long enough to get an accurate picture of his contributions, so he could make this list in another year or two.
Honorable Mention: Tom Heckert
Tom Heckert helped draft many of the great players who are on the Philadelphia Eagles roster right now, such as Kevin Kolb and DeSean Jackson.
Several of his draft picks have gone to the Pro Bowl, and the Eagles consistently were in the playoffs while Heckert worked with Andy Reid.
Now in Cleveland, Heckert has begun another rebuilding project. His success or failure in Cleveland will determine whether he earns a firm place on this list or drops off.
New York Jets: Mike Tannenbaum
The Jets' Mike Tannenbaum not only was smart enough to realize the Jets needed a new head coach after the 2008 season, he also found a guy in Rex Ryan who finds ways to win even when the players aren't playing well.
The Jets collapsed and missed the playoffs in 2008, and rather than shrug his shoulders and ignore the elephant in the room, Tannenbaum realized Eric Mangini didn't have the vision to actually bring his team a championship.
Rather than keep toiling and hoping for the best for a few more years, Tannenbaum pulled the trigger and brought in Rex Ryan.
Now the Jets have made some pretty good moves and have spent the last two years in the AFC Championship Game, falling short of the Super Bowl both times.
That's a talent issue that Tannenbaum will address, but fair warning, the Jets may have to take a step back at this point before they make another Super Bowl run. There are too many free agents and variables on this team to make 2011 anything but a crapshoot at this point.
Baltimore Ravens: Ozzie Newsome
The Baltimore Ravens have challenged the Pittsburgh Steelers almost every year for the AFC North title since the day Ozzie Newsome became the team's general manager.
This really burns Browns fans because that should be the Cleveland team doing it, but Art Modell had other ideas.
Newsome is a great drafter and has a good sense of when it's time to move on from certain players. Those two qualities are what separate a good GM from a bad GM.
New Orleans Saints: Mickey Loomis
Mickey Loomis has won the NFL Executive of the Year award and was one of the main figures behind guiding the Saints from the cellar to a Super Bowl victory last year.
Loomis had the foresight to give Drew Brees the kind of contract the quarterback wanted, and he found Sean Payton to guide the team to the Super Bowl last year.
The Saints are a well-built organization, and a lot of that is due to Loomis making the right decisions.
Kansas City Chiefs: Scott Pioli
Scott Pioli's success with the Patriots is well documented, and now he's taken the Kansas City Chiefs from worst to first in two years.
Pioli knows how to assemble a front office and a coaching staff. More importantly, he knows when to stay out of the way.
The Chiefs weren't perfect this year, but the future is bright in Kansas City because of Pioli's guidance.
Atlanta Falcons: Thomas Dimitroff
Thomas Dimitroff not only was smart enough to see how good Michael Turner could be, he's also pretty good at the draft.
Dimitroff got Matt Ryan in 2008, as well as left tackle Sam Baker and defensive end Kroy Biermann, among other solid players.
Dimitroff also makes good trades, bringing Tony Gonzalez to the team.
The Falcons had one of the most complete teams in the league in 2010, and Dimitroff now knows what he needs to fix to try to win a Super Bowl in 2011.
Dimitroff has won the Sporting News Executive of the Year Award this season, and you can tell every decision he makes is geared toward improving the team.
Indianapolis Colts: Bill Polian
Bill Polian is the president and general manager of the Colts, and the only mistake he really has made in recent years was keeping Jim Caldwell as the team's head coach.
Polian has kept the team competitive and knows how to draft, but the team got decimated by injuries last year and made the playoffs only because Peyton Manning is the quarterback.
Polian is the GM who took Manning over Ryan Leaf, so he gets big points right there for recognizing that Manning was the better quarterback by far.
Polian has won the NFL's Executive of the Year award several times and found Edgerrin James and Joseph Addai.
Polian had the foresight to hire Tony Dungy and now has another chance to fix the Colts and get them back to the Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Kevin Colbert
Other than the occasional blip, the Steelers are in the playoffs every year, and they've won two of their last three Super Bowl appearances since 2005.
Kevin Colbert is the man behind the scenes in Pittsburgh, as Mike Tomlin and the Rooney family do most of the public relations.
But it is Colbert who is the master here. Colbert's first-round picks are nothing short of brilliant. He just doesn't miss. In fact, Colbert rarely misses with any of the team's top-round picks.
Colbert uses the philosophy of drafting well and keeping that talent in-house. If there is a problem child, you get rid of him and promote the next guy, because it's all about depth.
The Steelers' record speaks for itself, and Colbert is the unsung hero of the Steelers' success.
Green Bay Packers: Ted Thompson
Ted Thompson had the courage and nerve to do what few other general managers in the NFL would have done: He stood up to Brett Favre and said it was time to move on.
The Packers' move from Favre to Aaron Rodgers was one of the gutsiest moves in the history of the NFL, and it paid off.
Favre did have a few good years left, but Rodgers was the future of the franchise, and now he's one of the league's elite quarterbacks.
Thompson knows how to draft and put so much depth on the team that a rash of injuries wasn't enough to derail their Super Bowl hopes. They hit the playoffs as a sixth seed and ended up winning the whole thing.
Thompson drafted Clay Matthews III, something several other teams were too dumb to do (the Browns passed on Matthews TWICE), and he helped Mike McCarthy put all the pieces in place for this year's Super Bowl run.
The team is poised to win for the next few years, and it won't be surprising to see the Packers win another two or three Super Bowls before this run is over.