The owner hires a full-time retired president/consultant: The Redskins (Pepper Rodgers), Browns (Mike Holmgren), and Dolphins (Bill Parcells) all proved that having a decorated full-time consultant/president does not translate into building a winning franchise. Having a super bowl ring-wearing icon will not guarantee any level of success. This model usually creates an uncomfortable atmosphere and has personnel men and coaches walking on eggshells afraid to be second-guessed. It does seem that the teams with tighter control and who have less cooks in the kitchen (Patriots, Ravens, Colts, Steelers, Packers) are better models.
ICONBrees' will to win is infectious, and has influenced good offseason habits of his teammates.
The locker room is lost: When players start talking to the media and using twitter to point fingers at teammates and management, the coach has lost their respect. Some may even still like him but when players start undermining their bosses it’s most likely a sign that everyone is starting to look out for himself. Players may continue to play hard for themselves and their teammates. However, if the locker room is lost and the respect is gone, a coach will not get the extra 10% he needs from players to get that maximum effort, focus and mistake free football that wins games.
The Owner thinks he’s a true football guy: The truth is that there aren’t very many owners who are football guys but several fancy themselves as one. There is currently a trend in the NFL that increased front office power is being accumulated by the money guys such as finance and salary cap figures. Every time a coach and/or GM are fired, these guys stay and gain more and more power. However, each front office must have decision makers who can put values on players, walk away when a deal is too rich, and have an “instinct” to make unpopular football decisions (like moving on from Brett Farve). These are football guys! Football guys usually have played and/or coached the game at a certain level. They came up through and gained their experience through the scouting ranks.
Your owner keeps too low of a profile: When owners want to take money out of the football business they purposely put a freeze on extensions and massive free agent signings. Several teams took advantage of the cap-less lockout situation and just pocketed as much cash as they could. The Bucs were most notorious and the owners, who were usually a fixture around the team and city, became less visible. As the pressure mounted from the media, and attendance dwindled to multiple black out levels, they eventually came back on-line and let the cash flow again to the organization. Owners who are actively involved in giving the football people all the tools and support they need to win are usually accessible, highly visible and take pride in ownership. Historically, those who are putting out minimal effort are usually very quiet. The floor spending level on the new cap will force owners to spend but there is still enough margin left for them to skim from the top into their pockets and not for a few extra players or needed extensions.
Your team lacks a strong leader: Every Super Bowl team has had its share of men who are so determined to win that it becomes infectious. On the contrary, they take losing so hard that it motivates them that much more. I can tell you personally one reason the Niners are having so much success is that Jim Harbaugh’s super competitive nature and personality spreads throughout the whole organization. Guys like Parcells, Ron Wolf, Belichick, Cowher, Ray Lewis, Ozzie Newsome, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees will bring the best out of everyone around them and raise the standard for commitment to the team. That’s one reason Belichick isn’t afraid to bring in players into their locker room who may have been labeled as “troubled” elsewhere. The environment and the team are bigger than any individual because of these types of men.
Your team doesn’t develop QBs: In the WIN RIGHT NOW mentality, driven by a boisterous social media leveraging fan base, increased national coverage of all organizations and easily embarrassed owners and impatient coaches, QBs aren’t getting the time and development they need. When Jim Harbaugh took over the Niners it would have been easy for him to go get a recycled QB. However, he put all his resources into getting the best out of Alex Smith and didn’t throw Colin Kaepernick into the fire before he was ready. Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, Kurt Warner, Trent Dilfer, Eli Manning and even Drew Brees didn’t come to age without having some growing pains in their first few years. Top QBs Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers were patiently groomed and thoughtfully incubated to perfection before given the keys to the franchise. On the contrary, if your team has a revolving door at QB, is always looking for the quick fix, lack the right people (coaches) to continuously develop your most important position, it’s unlikely your team will ever win a championship or consistently get deep into the playoffs.
I also believe that teams that have 5 year droughts of not drafting O-lineman in the first three rounds are setting them self up for failure. Historically, the Giants are the exception to the rule (says a lot about their O-line coach and scouts) when it comes to this sign.
If your team shows two or three of these five signs, then you may be in for suffering through many years of mediocrity at best.
Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta