Eric DeCosta is proof that it doesn’t take a lot of time to make a positive impact in the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens general manager has earned a nice honor after one year on the job, and it begs the question of how Jerry Jones and Mike Brown have been allowed to call the shots for their teams for so long despite sub-par results.
Oh, wait. They own their teams.
Eric DeCosta is selected the general manager of the year
Eric DeCosta had a tough act to follow when he assumed the role of general manager of the Baltimore Ravens in January 2019. DeCosta was replacing Ozzie Newsome, who had been the first and only GM in team history.
DeCosta worked his way through the organization after starting as a scout in 1996. Learning alongside Newsome was great preparation for DeCosta, 49, and he put the knowledge to use in a very productive first season calling the shots. It’s why The Sporting News this week tabbed him as the NFL Executive of the Year.
The Ravens went 14-2 in the regular season as DeCosta astutely continued the transition necessary to get the maximum results from exciting young quarterback Lamar Jackson. Chief among his accomplishments was a slew of changes at the skill positions.
DeCosta got 1,018 yards on the ground from Mark Ingram after waiving Alex Collins and 711 more from Gus Edwards, an undrafted free agent from 2018. He released receiver Michael Crabtree but got immediate production from rookie Marquise Brown.
DeCosta also wrangled a fourth-round draft pick from the Denver Broncos for quarterback Joe Flacco, who was no longer a good fit for the Ravens’ style of offense. The Ravens used the pick to draft running back Justice Hill, another promising young weapon.
Jerry Jones could use another set of eyes
ProFootballRumors.com recently published the list of all 32 NFL general managers, ordering them by their length of time on the job. The site lists Jerry Jones as becoming the Dallas Cowboys’ de facto GM once he bought the team and pushed out Tex Schramm in 1989.
It’s arguable that Jimmy Johnson could have been considered the GM for at least a portion of his time as head coach, but Jones has clearly been calling all the shots since at least 1994, which makes him the longest-tenured GM in the league.
The results have not been impressive. The NFL’s most valuable franchise has not been back to the Super Bowl since the 1995 season. There have been seven losing seasons since and five more that ended with .500 records.
In fact, there have been only seven division titles in that span despite the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins all having demonstrated considerable stretches of ineptitude over the past quarter of a century.
Mike Brown is no gem either
While Jerry Jones is the longest-tenured general manager in the NFL, fellow owner Mike Brown is No. 2, having operated the Cincinnati Bengals since the start of the 1991 season. It took 15 seasons under him for the Bengals to post a winning record and there have been only six double-digit win seasons.
Jerry Jones has a reputation for being willing to pay for results, but Brown and the Bengals have a history for thriftiness and half-hearted investments in free agency.
The Bengals are starting another rebuild, this time with No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow of LSU at quarterback. It’ll be a long climb from last season’s 2-14 record – Cincinnati’s fourth straight losing season — to a spot in the playoffs. Even then, the Bengals would have work to do; they’re 0-7 in playoff games since Brown began calling the shots.