Analysis

Which NFL GMs Could Be Next After Titans’ Firing of Jon Robinson?

Jon Robinson

The firing of Titans general manager Jon Robinson on Tuesday has shaken up the NFL because Tennessee hasn’t been a tailender recently.

“I thought Jon’s performance was good, and the Titans went to the playoffs four times in the last six years, so I was surprised by the decision and really by the timing of it,” said former Jets and Dolphins GM Mike Tannenbaum, an analyst for The 33rd Team. “They were the AFC’s No. 1 seed a year ago.

“In the short term, I don’t think Jon getting dismissed will distract from their season because [the players] see coach Mike Vrabel as their boss.”

Still, Robinson’s removal shows that wins and losses aren’t the only factors for a GM’s job status.

Joe Banner, like Tannenbaum, an analyst for The 33d Team and a former NFL team executive, points to several key elements a general manager must master.

“For me, the single biggest thing that separates successful general managers is not their ability to evaluate talent — most scouts are good talent evaluators,” said Banner,  the former president of the Philadelphia Eagles and CEO of the Cleveland Browns. “Where you see some differentiation is with somebody who can evaluate, of course, and has sound team-building philosophies. I look at people I know who are good evaluators yet are struggling as general managers because they do not have a well-thought-out plan or are not implementing their team-building philosophies.”

A key to reaching success is communication with coaches, players, fellow executives — and the owner.

“It’s a true partnership and you meet and talk countless times every day,” Tannenbaum said, mentioning the mundane tasks such as who is traveling to a game, to the more critical tasks such as contract extensions. “There are a million things that come up every day; unless you’re actually there it is impossible to understand how many things come up each day.”

Robinson isn’t likely to be the last GM to lose his job. Here are some others to watch for:

Nick Caserio, Houston Texans

The Texans are in the hunt for the top overall draft choice — again.

“When you have had two full years and a lot of control and still might be picking first, you should be showing more progress than that,” Banner said, noting he places Texans coach Lovie Smith in a similar situation to Caserio. “The team is trying very hard for them, but there’s not much growth on the roster.”

Steve Keim, Arizona Cardinals

The main problem here is the Cardinals’ poor evaluation of their roster, from the big contract extension for quarterback Kyler Murray to thinking they are contenders when they are not. Such failures in personnel bring into question the team philosophy.

“I see nothing looking at the roster that indicates they are headed for the top echelon of teams,” Banner said.

Tom Telesco, L.A. Chargers

Banner believes Telesco has brought in the necessary talent to win. So, that puts the onus on the coaching staff to get those wins, which isn’t happening regularly enough. Plus, this organization isn’t the most patient.

“Patience is important,” Tannenbaum said, not directly referring to the Chargers. “You want it to the extent you can give the organization continuity, and that over time gives you the best chance for success.”

The Chiefs, Steelers and Ravens are organizations that shown such patience, and success has followed.

Mickey Loomis, New Orleans Saints

Loomis is one of the most accomplished GMs among his peers. His Saints have been to the playoffs nine times and won a Super Bowl in 2010. But how much of those highlights belong more to former coach Sean Payton, who resigned after last season?

Banner wonders about the choice of Dennis Allen to replace Payton and its effect on Loomis’ stability.

“Mickey has done a lot of things well in the past,” Banner said. “And Dennis, I don’t see elevating himself to that level. Dennis was so ineffective as head coach in Oakland, and we’re seeing a team that is more talented and not living up to it.”

George Paton, Denver Broncos

The Broncos have plummeted despite the mammoth trade for Russell Wilson. Much of their demise is focused on the coaching struggles of Nathaniel Hackett. Paton, of course, hired Hackett.

“Does he need more time or is he the wrong hire?” Banner said about Hackett. “I don’t see him having the basic attributes the best coaches have, and it makes me think it is the wrong hire. I think George Paton is a smart guy and has made some really good personnel decisions. George has done enough to deserve more time but learn from the mistakes.

“If I was sitting in the owner’s seat, I would keep the GM and make sure we are looking at the future in the same way, and make the coaching change.”

WATCH: Robinson Firing by Titans ‘Shocking’

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