The John Schneider Blank Slate: Hail King Carroll

John Schneider was always a favorite. Like Marc Ross, Ruston Webster, Omar Khan and Floyd Reese, Schneider has spent his career in subordinate positions under powerful men. Of those, Ross and Reese had the most autonomy. Khan was a numbers guy. One would have to pick apart a Steelers contract to have much of an understanding of his ability. What could be found would tell us little about his ability to construct an NFL football team.

Schneider is in the same boat. While his duties were more entrenched in the actual construction of a roster, he was never assigned clear duties of his own. His bio describes his position in Green Bay thus:

strategic counsel to General Manager Ted Thompson, addressing and evaluating the needs of the team in both free agency and in the draft, incorporating a long-range planning process that examines the Packers' roster, as well as the rosters of all NFL teams, and takes into account the potential effects of injuries and salary cap issues, and explores possible trade scenarios

That's a Brazilian nightmare of corporate buzzwords. Schneider aided Thompson. Thompson is still a vital executive and separating the decisions made by Schneider and the decisions made by Thompson is as fruitless as separating the decisions made by Tim Ruskell from the decisions made by Ruston Webster. I never produced a Khan or Webster scorecard, and I'm pretty sure attempting one for Schneider would be similarly noisy and misleading.

Schneider worked with Marty Schottenheimer in Kansas City and Washington and Schott is a notorious control freak. He was later fired in a power struggle with San Diego Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith. Schneider also worked under Thompson and Mike Holmgren in Seattle, if you'd like a closer to home analogy for his place within an organization.

Pete Carroll wanted general manager duties, but when that provoked a shit storm, media reports retreated and it was confirmed that he would serve only as head coach. But he'd have final say over the team's 53 man roster. Slyly, that defined what kind of general manager Seattle could and would hire. Superstars like Eric DeCosta dropped out of the running, perhaps knowing they would be taking a subordinate position within the organization. I said that Floyd Reese and Marc Ross were the most autonomous within their past jobs, but neither was the big cheese. Reese was pinned between a superstar coach and a heavy handed owner. Ross worked mostly as a scouting director -- a subordinate but distinct position.

Schneider never achieved that distinction. On May 27, 2008, he was promoted. He didn't replace anyone. Thompson merely shifted titles, naming then director of pro personnel Reggie McKenzie to director of football operations and then personnel analyst Schneider to, you guessed it, director of football operations.

With respect to Brian McIntyre, there's no one way to build a team. A good executive adds talent how he can. The perfect counterexample of building through the draft is the New Orleans Saints, who have added essential talents like Drew Brees and Darren Sharper through free agency. One shouldn't credit Schneider for Green Bay not adding talent through free agency. Nor should one discredit them. However the team acquires it, talent is what matters. Signing Colin Cole through free agency is a mistake. Signing Julian Peterson through free agency is not.

I could run a superficial analysis of Green Bay's moves, or couch platitudes in passionate and topical phrasing. There's a infinite ways to sell a candidate if selling is the goal. God knows politics evinces that. Meaningful analysis of a candidate requires some clear idea of that candidate's qualifications and work, and Schneider's career in the NFL provides little of that. That doesn't mean he will fail or is unqualified.

Whether Carroll is nominally Seattle's general manager or not, it is once again clear that he is the man in charge. Hiring Schneider merely clarifies that. It's better to have a general manager than to burden a head coach with two jobs, but Schneider is not and likely will never be a big shot executive like Smith, Ruskell or Bill Polian. He's a team player, for good or ill, and his value within the organization is helping Carroll find the best talent and make the best decisions possible. So, give him good counsel, Mr. Schneider. The future of the Seattle Seahawks depends on it. Kind of.

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