What Makes A Franchise Successful? The Perspective of the Fans...

Okay, so I posted a few fanposts on other blogs a while back with the intent of following up eventually but I haven't until just now. Basically, I decided to go over to blogs of some of the most consistently great teams in the NFL  and simply ask them what they love about their franchise that they feel makes it so successful. After debating myself about it, I've decided it would be best to shut my own mouth and just pick out some of the best responses I got from fans. I got some great responses. My blogs that I chose were Baltimore Beatdown, Behind the Steel Curtain and Pats Pulpit. I would have made this a fanshot but I'm not sure how I would go about collecting all this info in a single fanshot. Forgive me for posting something without a ton of my own analysis.

The Best Responses From Pats Pulpit

It's the attitude

You hear it talked about as "The Patriot Way," which is just a sound bite for the prevailing attitude in the organization. Kraft is a very smart guy who understands that his expertise lies more in real estate than in football. He’s also a big fan — that’s why he bought the team in the first place — and wants to win, and he knows the best way to do that is by hiring the smartest staff he can and letting them run the show.

That’s where Belichick comes in. As much as people who aren’t Pats fans hate him, he’s proven repeatedly to be one of the smartest coaches (and, for all intents and purposes, GMs) in the NFL. Combine his intelligence with his general approach to the game — that it has to be about the team and not any individual player — and that’s where the success comes from. By his design, our roster is made up of two kinds of carefully selected players, the superstar quality players who buy into the team-first concept (e.g., Brady, Welker, Wilfork, Mayo, etc.) and the overachievers who either didn’t or wouldn’t amount to much on any other team (e.g., Law Firm, Ninkovich, Edelman, etc.) and know their careers depend on buying into the concept. Any of the stars who step out of line (e.g., Moss, Asante Samuel) and any of the non-superstars who start to think they are superstars (e.g., Branch before he got exiled to Seattle) get shipped out and replaced.

The end result is that the whole team is greater than the sum of its parts. Contrast that to many other teams, including the Bengals — they may have a lot of talent, but if the most talented players think the main goal is self-aggrandizement rather than winning games, the whole is less than the sum of its parts. That’s why there aren’t too many people around here who would want the Pats to sign Ochocinco or TO, let alone both. They make it all about them rather than the team, and that just doesn’t fit with the Patriot Way.

by RSNexile on Jan 8, 2011 10:53 AM EST reply actions   9 recs



Next, Richard Hill gives us more of a manual on how he thinks a team should be built.

The Bengals are franchise that is called the "Bungles" and they have a history of signing locker room problems and players of questionable character. The team is full of individuals, but not a team of players. When the Bengals draft, its as if they’re going for the best talent available, but not the best talent that fits the system. If you want the Bengals to be successful, they need to build in a certain way:

1) Build the defense. A strong defense will keep any offense in the game (see: Jets, New York and Bears, Chicago). Start with the middle of the field and work to the sidelines because stopping the run and the tight ends are imperative to slowing an offense.
2) Build the offensive line. The offensive line is the most underrated group on any football team. They’re what moves the ball in the running game and they’re what gives the quarterback time to throw the ball. If the offensive line is elite, then the rest of the team will overachieve (see: Patriots, New England).
3) Get an offensive weapon and a journeyman quarterback. The weapon and the quarterback (and O-Line) will be able to match a strong defense with an average to above-average offense, allowing the team to compete in every game (see: Chiefs, Kansas City).
4) Find a quarterback of the future and have them sit behind the journeyman quarterback for a couple seasons. In the meantime, flesh out the offense and the depth on both sides of the ball. Young quarterbacks always need time to learn the game and by not forcing them into the fire, they’ll have a better time adjusting to the 16 game season. Letting the quarterback sit and growing the team sets the team up for the future (see: Packers, Green Bay, and Eagles, Philadelphia).

Teams build themselves in some pretty awful ways, even though it seems pretty obvious how to make a strong team. Look at the Detroit Lions, for example. They’re a team that has ignored the offensive line position for so long and their quarterback of the future is now injured product as a result. A good offensive line makes the running AND passing game better.

The Bengals have the talent- there’s no doubt about it. They’re just missing talent at some of the most important places (middle of the field, offensive line).

Pats Pulpit | @Follow Me On Twitter

by Richard Hill on Jan 8, 2011 11:35 AM EST up reply actions  


Now WileyHyena gives us a little post trying sum up how a smart organization treats a great QB. Oh, what could have been with Palmer.

Great Thread

BB is not an evil genius, just very intelligent. Brady is the best QB in the game (just as smart as P. Manning, but with a better arm). Put the two together along with an owner that stays out of the way….and Presto! You have the New England Patriots.

Lots of teams have had potentially great QBs, but they mishandled them, and the potential was lost. Brady is a glass cannon. Glass must have protection or it gets broken. Once broken, some can never be repaired…reference Bledsoe for example. Most great pro QBs are like this, however there are notable exceptions: Bradshaw, Favre and Staubach.

Bottom line: BB knew what he had with Brady and protected him and brought him to prominence. BB was not greedy and did it right. BB is a great coach.

Bottom line: Give Tom Brady time in the pocket, and he’s almost unbeatable. Add a defense and he is unbeatable.

Only a very few coaching-QB combinations have consistently achieved this level of play and winning tradition:

1. Walsh-Montana;
2. Landrey-Staubach (scrambler);
3. Johnson-Aikman (but Aikman was very nearly broken before it caught fire);

I will say in Peyton Manning’s behalf, that it’s tough to be a coach and QB at the same time. Clearly he runs his own offense without any real interference. This is an advantage that Brady possesses to the exclusion of Manning. Two brains are always better than one.
I hope this clears things up. See, the Jets could catch fire, get a break or two, and actually win (heavy odds against it though :) ). But, next year is next year and New England will just continue to win because they are winners.

by WileyHyena on Jan 10, 2011 2:10 PM EST reply actions  

Now CoachSR gives us a short and to the point post on how we should trade back in the draft when the need arises. MB really needs to read these...

Stockpiling picks and manipulating the draft board

By trading down, Belichick is able to acquire the player he wants while still being able to manage the salary cap. I’m sure that when Devin McCourty was drafted we were all scratching our heads a little bit, and now he’s one of the league’s top corners and it’s only his first season. We got TE Rob Gronkowski in the second round, and Aaron Hernandez in the 4th, who might be the steal of that year’s draft class.

by CoachSR on Jan 8, 2011 2:08 PM EST reply actions  


BabeParilli is NOT very impressed with Belicheck, saying (sarcastically) that he is made by his QB.


it’s having the greatest QB in the history of the game maybe?

Nah, can’t be THAT. That guy is just a system QB created by the genius BB. Hell, BB could do all this with Hoyer or Sanchez or your aunt Petunia, he’s that freakin’ brilliant. Hell, he could make Stephen Hawking a Hall of Fame linebacker!

Nope, it ain’t that quarterback. It must be that failed coach from Cleveland who just happened to start being a genius the day Tom Brady started winning games for him. He must have been a closet genius until then. But I wonder why he just didn’t use his genius on Beldsoe instead of Brady.

The glass is at 50% of capacity.

by BabeParilli on Jan 9, 2011 3:04 AM EST reply actions  



The Best Responses From Baltimore Beatdown

(note: I got significantly less responses on these blogs to choose from. BB was where the responses I got were the weakest, so bare with me.) Let me show you some of the very short answers that appeared...


Genius GM.
Ozzie Newsome
Great upper management, especially at GM. Owner committed to doing well, and solid evaluation of talent over the years.


I'm sorry, but I can't do much better on BB with what I was given. But what I gathered is important; they think it's all about the upper management, which is probably the single worst thing about our franchise and is one thing that won't be changing soon.


The Best Answers From Behind The Steel Curtain...


I would say

that the #1 thing that makes the Steelers different is that the ownership believes in hiring good people and then trusting them (at the FO and head coach level.). I did a post several weeks ago about why the Steelers are such a successful franchise, and comparing the number of coaches that other teams have had since 1970. (During that span we have had 3.). You can find that post at (Sorry, the link feature doesn’t work properly from my iPad.)

The other factor I would point to would be the team ethic here. Players are expected to teach the rookies that come in, knowing that those rookies may replace them sooner or later. No player is above the team. Even our QB was obviously given notice, and a final chance, to embrace the Steeler way, and I’m happy to say that he seems to have taken that chance to make some serious improvements in his life, both personally and professionally.

I like your head coach. He’s actually one of the longer-tenured coaches in the league, IIRC. I get the impression that he’s trying to run a pre-school instead of a football team in some cases, and things have gotten out of hand. I would suspect that he doesn’t get the support he needs from his ownership to really bring things into line. Just a guess. Good luck with your quest. We like to win around here, but we also like to have serious rivals in the division, and I found the Bengals to be a disappointment this year in that regard, which seems a shame with all the talent you’ve got on your team.

"You learn more in failure than you do in success." - Mike Tomlin

by momma rollett on Jan 8, 2011 12:33 AM EST reply actions   7 recs


Hiring people with specialized jobs and actually trusting them? Like, maybe a GM? Wow, I wish MB would do something like that.


PittRiverman now gives us a run-through on why he loves the management in Pittsburgh.

To answer your question, the ownership

Undoubtedly, the last thing I would want to give up would be ownership. The Rooneys simply run the team the right way. The FO and coaching stability, desire of free agents to come here (or come back), everything flows from the Rooneys.

They pay the money for the facilities for the players, they pay for a first rate FO, they don’t panic if the team doesn’t make the playoffs, they don’t scream for the coach’s head every few years, they show up to practices, training camps and the players respect them.

The "Steeler Way," an expectation of excellence, strong defense and run game and personal accountability all come from the owner. IIRC, until a few years ago, the Ambassador still walked to the games from his North Side home, mingling with the fans.

I just don’t think your Bengals will be successful until Mike Brown is out of the picture, one way or another. He’s comfortable with a below-average franchise, as long as a profit is turned. That simply sucks for football fans in Cincinnati.

by PittRiverman on Jan 8, 2011 1:39 AM EST reply actions   7 recs



RobZagnut now tries to combine all the elements into one reply, and does pretty well.

1. The Rooneys – It starts at the top. The Chief treated everyone with respect, class and dignity. His boys obviously learned from their father. I’m 50 years old and have only known three Steeler coaches. The whole organization is about honor, stability and winning.

2. Tradition – There are certain ways to do things and there’s the ‘Steeler way’ and it’s all about the team. Mean Joe, Bradshaw, Franco, Woodson, Bettis, Ward, etc played Steeler football and it is passed down to the rookies. There would be no Ochocino in Pittsburgh. He would still be Chad. The veterans would teach (tell) him to shut up and play the ‘Steeler way’. No Sharpies, no signs, no mime dancing, no whining about not getting the football. You learn from the veterans and if you don’t comply, you’re gone (for a 5th round draft pick).

During the first Steeler-Bengal game this year I was appalled at the actions of Chad Johnson. He was whining and carrying on, because TO was getting all the passes thrown to him. Finally, one of the Bengal linemen pointed at him and told him to get off the field. THAT guy should be made a team captain. You would NEVER see a Steeler player act like that on the field. I was happy to see that Lewis was retained by the Bengals, because that means they will continue to suck, because Lewis lets those type of players onto his team and let them carry on, which destroys a team’s unity.

3. Expectations – For the organization, the players and Steeler Nation there is only one goal. Win the Super Bowl. I met a Bills fan at a convention and we started talking about the NFL. When he learned I was a Steelers fan he commented, "You Steeler fans are a different breed. Us Bills fan would kill for a 9-7 record, but it’s the end of the world for you guys." He’s right. Nothing else is good enough. A winning record, the playoffs, winning the division… it all leads to only one thing. Win the Super Bowl. It’s been ingrained into us since two men named Noll and Mean Joe stepped onto the field and it’s never let up.

4. The Anti-Cowboys – The Steelers are a tough, blue collar team. No glitz, flash and style for this team. The Steelers build through the draft, don’t sign high priced free agents and let troublesome players go. The owner lets his people run the show and never is in the spotlight. You have to respect that. As a fan this team is easy to love. No drama, no headaches and you know if the Rooneys make a decision it’s for the right reasons.

Towertrash is very harsh on the Bengals, but he also loves the ownership in Pitt.

Success starts from the top down

Like any business success is generated from the top. Good business means making good business decisions. It all starts with the Rooneys who have been doing it for damn near 80 years. Unlike what you believe that the Rooney’s write checks for the best players actually thats not true. While Ben and Ward have been given huge contracts they are the exception not the rule. More often than not we let go of star players holding out for big dollars. If it was as simple as writing checks then we would have held on to key players like Plaxico Buress, Alan Faneca, Santonio Holmes, Chad Brown, Mike Vrabel, Nate Washington, Yancey Thigpen, Kevin Greene, Eric Greene, Rod Woodson, Kendrall Bell and on and on and on over the years. The key is knowing who fits your team and bulding an identity. Selfish players never last in Pittsburgh no matter how tallented. Talent is a small part of the whole picture. Which is why Al Davis and Jerry Jones can’t seem to buy a championship. All that talent and high salaries come with huge egoes and attitudes. Couple that with no leadership from yes men coaches and it’s no wonder they always under achieve. The consistant successful teams find talent in the back half of the draft and have solid leadership on the field and in the offense. Pittsburgh has had the recipe of 40 years and New England and Baltimore have used the same model for thier success. Cincy may have a good year here or there because they have as much talent as anyone. What they don’t have is an identity. There is no leadership and it all starts with ownership. Sorry your team just sucks and always will. Just enjoy the good years when they come you will have them once in a while just don’t be expecting them or you will set yourself up for disappointment.

by Towertrash on Jan 10, 2011 11:07 PM EST reply actions  

As you can see, many of the fans love the "blue collar" identity. Homer J tells us that this attitude starts with the ownership.

The Rooneys don't consider themselves better than anyone else...

…and in the ego-driven world of professional football, that sets an important tone.

Dan Rooney would eat with the players at Latrobe…and would stand in the cafeteria line like everyone else.

They don’t spend their wad on a few superstars, but they make sure there’s enough left over for the guys on the special teams and the backups and the "mortar" that hold it all together. They are loyal and loyalty is a hallmark of the team. They are one of the few teams that actually gets the occasional hometown discount from players who take less money to play for a good, winning organization than simply to go somewhere to get paid.

They understand tradition. They understand community. They understand family. And they put it all together.

I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer.
- Homer J. Simpson

by Homer J. on Jan 8, 2011 8:13 PM EST reply actions   3 recs


Basically, there are a ton of different factors that need to combine for a team to be successful, but it all starts with management. The comments I quoted speak for themselves, so I'll be quiet now. Enjoy!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Cincy Jungle's writers or editors.

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