Is this a fair ranking of Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson, and should fans be glad he isn’t being overhyped?
I’m quick to defend Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson whenever he is criticized, because we have all seen what a bad GM can do to a franchise.
So when I saw that Robinson was ranked 14th in Patrick Daugherty’s GM Power Rankings, I expected some frustrating analysis that didn’t do justice to what the fourth-year GM has done for the team.
I was pleasantly surprised with what I got instead.
"“Jon Robinson has yet to break through, but he is holding steady. The heir to a team that went 5-27 in 2014-15, Robinson quickly whipped the Titans into 9-7 respectability. That is where they have stayed, posting the same record each of the past three seasons. Robinson believes his roster is ready for more. After stockpiling draft picks his first two years on the job, Robinson has had back-to-back eventful free agencies, spending big money on both sides of the ball. His project might be further along if not for annual injury and inconsistency from Marcus Mariota. As such, Robinson has finally gotten serious about the backup quarterback spot, acquiring Ryan Tannehill. On the sideline, Robinson seems to have found the right partner in coach Mike Vrabel, who transformed the Titans’ defense from a bottom-half unit to top-five bully in 2018. Striking the right balance between aggression and pragmatism, Robinson is a general manager whose arrow is pointing upward.”"
That is a pretty fair assessment of Robinson to this point in his career. He inherited a terrible team that was a mess outside of maybe three players, and in just a few years he has turned the Tennessee Titans roster around.
Defensive back is now a position of strength after fielding maybe the worst unit in the NFL at the start of his career. Likewise, the receivers, running backs and linebackers have all seen huge improvement.
The biggest knock on Jon Robison is basically that Corey Davis and Jack Conklin got hurt at some point in their career and that he drafted Kevin Dodd (even though I still think LeBeau pushed hard for that).
Other that that what can you say? In free agency he has been efficient and has put more of an emphasis on keeping his own talent than trying to score someone who may not pan out.
As a draft expert, he has hit on guys in the first round consistently and second rounders like Derrick Henry, Harold Landry and A.J. Brown all look like value picks. Beyond that he has killed Day 3 and UDFA landing players like Amani Hooker, D’Andre Walker, Jayon Brown, Corey Levin, Tajae Sharpe, and Sharif Finch.
The crown jewel of his drafts is probably Kevin Byard who may be the best safety in the NFL despite his lack of respect nationally.
Putting Robinson at 14th with that analysis is fine, but only if you say that positions 5-15 are completely interchangeable. People are quick to put guys like Chris Ballard high (5th) because they don’t want old articles where they bashed him brought back up, nevermind that he completely tanked the 2017 NFL Draft.
Jon Robinson brought in more talent with his first draft class than Ballard did in his first two, so some of this has to be dependent on tangible results on the field year by year.
If you say all that, then sure this ranking is solid. Robinson has proven that he will make smart moves that make the team better, but that he may not draft an All-Pro every year.
When you look back on a GM and can say that after four seasons, it probably means you have the right guy leading the Tennessee Titans. Look no further than the illustrious “Executive of the year Award”.
Seemingly if you win that, your team should be great and you should consistently bring good talent to your team. However, there is a Madden-like curse on that award that fivethirtyeight brought to light not too long ago. Look at the previous winners and let me know if this award may be overreaction to one signing or draft pick that worked really well, while the winners actual acumen many have been exaggerated:
"“2018: Chris Ballard, Indianapolis Colts, Active2017: Howie Roseman, Philadelphia Eagles, Active2016: Reggie McKenzie Oakland Raiders Fired Dec. 10, 20182015: Mike Maccagnan New York Jets Fired May 15, 20192014: Jerry Jones Dallas Cowboys Owner2013: John Dorsey Kansas City Chiefs Fired June 22, 20172012: Ryan Grigson Indianapolis Colts Fired Jan. 21, 20172011: Trent Baalke San Francisco 49ers Fired Jan. 1, 20162010: Scott Pioli Kansas City Chiefs Fired Jan. 4, 20132009: Bill Polian Indianapolis Colts Fired Jan. 3 2012″"
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So, 8 of the last 10 winners of the award have either been fired since winning or own the team and can’t be fired. That is a pretty bad record for predicting talent.
Maybe instead of looking at short term impact and one good year, this is an award that should undergo a name change and be something given to someone who deserves it for creating a consistently good/great team.
In the end, maybe it is a good thing that Robinson is ranked where he is. He isn’t so high that one bad draft class will lead to people saying he “lost it” and he isn’t bad at his job so he isn’t in the bottom half of the rankings.
This isn’t settling for mediocrity, but instead realizing that teams ahead of the Tennessee Titans are probably in for a fall from their high horse or they are a team so set at quarterback that GMs really don’t have to worry to much about hitting or missing because they are set to win 10+ games every year anyway.