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Dispelling the myth: Grading Jerry the GM - Part 2

Since 1989, Jerry Jones' inaugural season as the Cowboys' Owner and General Manager, there have been 83 different individuals assuming the position of General Manager around the NFL. Since Mr. Jones has not fired himself, it should come as no surprise that he has more regular season wins than any other General Manager, 198. Jerry ranks 31st among the 83 General Managers employed in the NFL since 1989 in regular season winning ratio.

But the true measure of success for a General Manager is how the teams they assemble fare in the post season. Football guys and fans alike agree that winning consistently in the regular season is meaningless if gaudy regular season numbers do not translate into post season victories.

More impressive than Jones' 198 regular season wins is that Jerry has amassed 13 post season victories as the General Manager of the Dallas Cowboys, second most among sole* General Managers employed since 1989 (*Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli served as co-General Managers in New England until Pioli left for Kansas City; crediting Belichick with all Patriots post season victories under his leadership would boost him to second on this list with 17 post season wins). Bill Polian is the only General Manager that has accumulated more post season victories since 1989 than Jerry Jones, with 20 post season wins.

In fact, the General Managers that have won at least one Super Bowl and have a better post season winning ratio than Jerry Jones include:

General Manager

Team

Post season win ratio

Super Bowl victories

Jerry Reese

New York Giants

.889

2

Charley Casserly

Washington Redskins

.667

1

Ron Wolf

Green Bay Packers

.643

1

John McVay

San Francisco 49ers

.632

2

Ted Thompson

Green Bay Packers

.625

1

Mickey Loomis

New Orleans Saints

.625

1

Jerry Jones

Dallas Cowboys

.591

3

Jerry compares favorably with some of the best General Managers in the NFL in terms of post season performance. Only the combination of Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli has won as many Super Bowls as Jerry Jones in the last two decades.

Jerry Jones fits neatly within the top five General Managers currently employed in the league in terms of post season success. Interestingly, only one current General Manager, Ted Thompson of the Green Bay Packers has achieved post season success with more than one quarterback (Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers), although only Rodgers won a Super Bowl. John McVay in San Francisco won a Super Bowl with Joe Montana and another with Steve Young.

In fact, almost every General Manager that has won a Super Bowl has had a franchise quarterback lead the way:

General Manager

Team

Franchise quarterback

Super Bowl victories

Belichick / Pioli

New England Patriots

Tom Brady

3

Jerry Jones

Dallas Cowboys

Troy Aikman

3

Jerry Reese

New York Giants

Eli Manning

2

John McVay

San Francisco 49ers

Montana / Young

2

Ted Thompson

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers

1

Mickey Loomis

New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees

1

Ron Wolf

Green Bay Packers

Brett Favre

1

Bill Polian

Indianapolis Colts

Peyton Manning

1

George Young (New York Giants), Rich McKay (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and Charley Casserly (Washington Redskins) are the three General Managers that won Super Bowls with less than franchise caliber quarterbacks. The Giants, Buccaneers, and Redskins won with Jeff Hostetler, Brad Johnson, and Mark Rypien, respectively.

All three of those teams had very stout defenses and strong-willed head coaches: Bill Parcells, Joe Gibbs, and Jon Gruden. Parcells and Gibbs had strong running games that served them well, while Gruden ran a short, ball-control passing game as the centerpiece of the offense.

Other franchise quarterbacks currently exist in the NFL: Philip Rivers comes to mind. AJ Smith is currently the General Manager in San Diego. He has held his position within the franchise since 2003, and boasts an excellent regular season winning ratio (.611). The Chargers have accumulated 88 regular season wins under his tenure. His post season record, however, is an abysmal 3-5.

Other notable General Managers that have struggled in the post season despite posting at least 87 regular season wins include (*denotes that the GM started before 1989 but only numbers from 1989 to the present are included):

General Manager

Team

Playoffs (W-L)

Regular season wins

Super Bowl wins

Years as GM

AJ Smith

San Diego Chargers

3-5

88

0

2003-2012

Ozzie Newsome

Baltimore Ravens

5-6

94

0

2002-2012

Carl Peterson

Kansas City Chiefs

3-9

176

0

1989*-2008

John Butler

Buffalo Bills

3-5

87

0

1993-2000

Jerry Angelo

Chicago Bears

3-4

95

0

2001-2011

Eddie Jones

Miami Dolphins

6-9

144

0

1989*-2003

Ernie Accorsi

Browns / Giants

3-5

91

0

1989*-2006

With the exceptions of Eddie Jones (Dan Marino), John Butler (Jim Kelly), and AJ Smith (Philip Rivers), the other long-time General Managers did not have an elite quarterback. Considering how difficult it is to find a franchise quarterback, a strong argument could be made that Jones, Butler, and Smith have failed miserably in their capacity as General Managers for unsuccessfully providing their respective quarterbacks with the supporting cast necessary to win a championship.

Despite struggling in the post season, every General Manager listed above retained their position for at least 8 seasons. The average number of years each General Manager stayed with their respective team was about 14 years.

Obviously, Jerry Jones has not been able to duplicate the success he had in the 90's. In fairness, no General Manager has ever won three out of four Super Bowls then won at least one more during their time with that team. In fact, outside of Jerry Jones, only two other sole General Managers have won more than one Super Bowl since 1989: John McVay with the San Francisco 49ers and Jerry Reese with the New York Giants. There are many General Managers, however, that have won fewer than the two playoff games Jerry has since the 1996 season. Here is just a fraction of the men that head that dubious list:

General Manager

Team

Playoffs games

Playoff wins

Regular season win ratio

Years as GM

Vinnie Cerrato

Washington Redskins

3

1

0.448

7

Matt Millen

Detroit Lions

0

0

0.277

7

Dick Steinberg

New York Jets

1

0

0.375

6

Jeff Ireland

Miami Dolphins

1

0

0.484

5

Jim Irsay

Indianapolis Colts

0

0

0.363

5

Tom Donahoe

Buffalo Bills

0

0

0.388

5

Thomas Dimitroff

Atlanta Falcons

3

0

0.672

5

Rich McCay

Atlanta Falcons

2

1

0.504

5

Bruce Allen

Washington Redskins

0

0

0.414

4

Mike Holmgren

Seattle Seahawks

1

0

0.500

4

Terry Donahue

San Francisco 49ers

2

1

0.423

4

Billy Devaney

Saint Louis Rams

0

0

0.188

4

Bill Parcells

New York Jets

2

1

0.594

4

Jim Finks

New Orleans Saints

3

0

0.625

4

Scott Pioli

Kansas City Chiefs

1

0

0.438

4

Phil Savage

Cleveland Browns

0

0

0.375

4

Dwight Clark

Cleveland Browns

1

0

0.328

4

In analyzing the General Managers in the league since Jerry bought the Dallas Cowboys, one name compares favorably to that of Jerry Jones: Bill Polian. Bill is the only General Manager with more experience than Jerry, now that Al Davis has passed away. Polian has built two Super Bowl teams during his time as a GM in the NFL: the Buffalo Bills and the Indianapolis Colts. I found it interesting to compare Jerry, Bill, and Al (from 1989 to 2012), and throw in another GM/Owner that is currently in the NFL:

General Manager

Playoffs (W-L)

Regular season wins

Super Bowl wins

Years as GM

Mike Brown

0-3

124

0

1991-2012

Al Davis

6-6

168

0

1989*-2011

Bill Polian

20-16

192

1

1989*-2009

Jerry Jones

13-9

198

3

1989-2012

Anyone care to compare Jerry to other Owners that serve as General Managers? Not much of a comparison, is it?

It is apparent that every NFL team experiences a cyclical win-loss total over the course of several seasons. Between 1989 and 2011, the longest consecutive streak of seasons making the playoffs is held by Indianapolis. The Colts qualified for the playoffs nine consecutive seasons from 2002 to 2010 (tied with Dallas for the NFL record). It is commonplace for teams to experience lulls every few seasons.

Taking that into account, it is not surprising to see General Managers have great runs of success that culminate in several seasons of failure. When entire careers are considered, is Jerry on par with some of the best ever to serve as General Managers in the NFL?

Why is Jerry Jones vilified to the extent that he is?

I look forward to addressing those questions in the upcoming posts. Thank you for your time and feel free to comment on the job you feel Jerry Jones is doing. I anticipate some good discussion.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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