As Tim Tebow threw a beautiful touch pass into the arms of Eric Decker last Sunday, a tall man in a nifty suit standing near the endzone immediately thrust his arms up in excitement. The man responsible for bringing this touchdown connection on the same team was seeing his investment come to fruition. This man was Brian Xanders.
Earlier this year I noted that one big reason for Broncos optimism was how much more comfortable our football coach looked in the article Josh McDaniels and the Big Leather Chair. I believe however, that it is also time to give much respect and appreciation to our GM Brian Xanders. Many in the media and general public may not know Xanders very well or understand his role. Some might believe he is Josh McDaniels puppet. I am here to explain that Brian Xanders is no marionette, but a GM who is working tirelessly behind the scenes to make the Denver Broncos the best organization in all of football.
The Man Behind The Scenes
Brian Xanders does not get much attention and this is by design. He much prefers to be behind the scenes and allow the coaches and players to take credit. Furthermore, is that he and Josh McDaniels have a great working relationship, as McDaniels noted during their first draft together last year.
But McDaniels said new general manager Brian Xanders has been just as instrumental in the team's draft plans, albeit behind the scenes.
McDaniels said there have been few disagreements between him and Xanders as they've watched film on the draft prospects.
"He headed up this entire process. He's up there right now," McDaniels said of Xanders. "He's really led to some prospects, organized the draft board, all the scouting trips. He sent the coaches on a few visits."
It is a blessing to have a coach and GM in lockstep. It feels much different than the relationship Shanahan held with his GM's were they were there to put his plans into action. Xanders is no Ted Sunquist, he is a decision maker and a powerful voice in the Broncos war rooms.
Unifying our Scouting Process
Xanders has also brought some consistency and organization to the scouting process. In an interview with DenverBroncos.com, Xanders mentioned that Scouts have a unified rating system of six characterisitics:Athletecism, Playing Speed, Playing Strength, Competitiveness, Football Intelligence and Production. They also factor in Football Character and Personal Character into the final decision. This organization has helped get all the scouts on the same page and led to in my opinion, one of our better drafts of recent memory. I've been impressed with our free agency acquisition the past two years and our draft of 2010 the most.
Classy and Creative
Furthermore, and something that is very important to me. Xanders has represented the organization well at the negotiating table. Not only have we gotten several deals done recently for important players such as Dumervil, Kuper and Orton, Xanders has made all of his moves with class. Here is a great example from Jim Denton, an associate of Tim Tebow agent Jimmy Sexton:
One of Sexton's associates, Jim Denton, hugged Tebow and then turned to a reporter and said of the Broncos: "They're one of the most honest teams in the league. They did exactly what they told us they'd do."
Being called one of the most honest teams in the league? By an agent? That's high praise.
In addition, Kyle Orton spoke to Xanders ability to get a deal down in a challenging climate.
“Considering the labor environment, I’m aware of how difficult it was to get this deal done and am extremely appreciative of all of the hard work and support from [general manager] Brian Xandersand Coach McDaniels during this process." Orton also said that his agent "certainly thought the Broncos were very creative – Brian Xanders and coach, the whole organization – they were very creative in getting a deal done that we both like and we believe is fair for both parties."
National Football Post wrote a great article that is in the fanshots regarding how the Broncos were able to successfully handle all 5 of their restricted free agents this summer without using any new money in 2010. By trading and then getting creative in the deals with Kuper, Dumervil and Orton, we no longer have any lingering situations with our restricted free agents.
A Master of Disguise
Finally, Xanders masterfully manipulated the 2010 NFL draft to get the players he coveted in the first round and build depth throughout. Entering the 2010 NFL Draft, Here are the picks we held.
#13, #43, #45, #80, #114, #137 and #183
And here's what we ended up with
#22, #25, #45, #80, #87, #137, #183, #225. #232
To those that say we paid a high price for Tebow to get him because we gave up 3 picks are being a bit disingenuous. We utliized the several of the picks we got by trading back to move up and grab Tebow and Thomas. We also nabbed an extra third rounder which turned into Eric Decker. If you looked at what we went in with and what we ended up with we gained extra picks throughout the process, moved up and down were we needed two, and ulitimately landed the two players we coveted most. Whether you agree with the players picked only time will tell. but the the bottom line is Xanders always got his man and he did it without giving up a lot of what he entered this draft with.
Also, if you just let go of Tim Tebow for a second and look at the rookies we have making significant contributions this year. Eric Decker caught 10 passes last night, Syd'Quan continues to make plays, he is all heart, the rookie o-linemen are developing, and Perrish Cox is being driven like he was stolen-because he was.
One last story to tell you. On the night before the official beginning of free agency Justin Bannan was in town. He expected to visit with the Broncos early the next morning and then fly-out later that afternoon to Cleveland. That morning he met with Xanders and the rest of the Broncos brass. They were so persistent and convincing, Bannan never made it to Cleveland. Xanders always gets his man.
Brian Xanders is a creative, classy, compliment to the championship team McDaniels is trying to build. He is not a marionette of the puppet master McDaniels but an intrical part of building a dynasty. I am honored he is our GM and I think it's time some credit is due. I love the Xanders.