Re: Apparently Reiss doesn't think BB is the greatest GM of all time.
posted at 5/5/2013 10:27 AM EDT
Once BB has players in camp and practice, he does a great job of understanding their strengths and weaknesses and then figuring out how best to combine his players and adjust his schemes to ensure that the strengths of his players are accentuated and the weaknesses hidden. Because of this, when you look at Belichick's teams, you always see a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts.
A lot of BB's player acquisition strategy seems designed to allow lots of flexibility to move players in and out and focus on getting the team right rather than getting the most talented individuals. The acquisition strategy is also probably motivated in part by the fact that the Pats have been disadvantaged in their picks for two reasons: (1) their consistently high finishing position each year earns them less desirable picks and (2) they have lost some important picks because of spygate and Belichick's own hiring. With poorer picks than the average team, Belichick seems to want to increase the number of picks he has to get more chances at finding a good player. The alternative strategy--trading away lots of picks and focusing on one or two top players high in the draft--might give him more impact players, but it would seriously limit his ability to build a deep team because of the reduced number of picks and the high cost (at least prior to the rookie cap) of top draft picks.
Overall, I'm comfortable with BB's value strategy, which involves accumulating more mid round picks and being cautious about signing big free agency contracts that bind you to an expensive player for a long time. However, for this strategy to work effectively, you really need to be great at evaluating talent in the mid and lower rounds of the draft and among middling free agents. Here, I'd say BB is pretty good, but not so good that we can say his strategy as executed as been an unqualified success. While a number of his "value" players have worked out quite well, he's also missed on a large number of them. In fact, it's not totally clear that he really ended up that far ahead of where he would have been if he had just gone for a few big names. The one thing that going for big names would have done, however, is resulted in much less flexibiilty. And given BB's strengths of combining and recombining players, I think he values that flexibility more than anything. So from that perspective, BB's strategy is clearly a good one for him.
Still, for the team to be really dominant in the postseason, it needs a few more impact players. Going into a season with almost no NFL starting calibre WRs or almost no NFL starting caliber DBs on the team (as we've done in recent years) just doesn't make for a team that will do well against playoff level competition. BB can put all those mediocre players in the best position possible to maximize their strengths and hide their weaknesses, but sometimes they'll just get beaten by the more talented players on the other team.
When you evaluate BB as a GM, I think you have to give him credit for his ability to mix and match players to get the most out of the team and for his ability to accumulate a lot of decent talent. I think he can be criticized, however, for maybe downplaying the importance of having enough true top-tier talents on the team and for missing a bit on some of his evaluation of lower tier draftees and free agents. When you look at the whole picture, BB is excellent at building and coaching up a very competitive team. Where he maybe drops a bit is in his ability to acquire and hold on to enough top tier talent to really move the team from being competitive to being dominant.