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A look at Dolphins GM candidate Brian Xanders

People I've been talking to about Dolphins GM candidate Brian Xanders generally have positive things to say about him: He's experienced. He knows the ins and outs of the NFL rules for player acquisition, salary cap, and other personnel matters to the point he served as John Elway's tutor on the topic -- obviously they didn't cover faxing. And he apparently dabbles in the idea of using a sort of sabermetrics to speed information gathering on players, something Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is certain to appreciate because he enjoys being confused by such things.

[Update: Three NFL people and two others who apparently read this post either texted me or emailed me to say Xanders is not all that. The pushback was so overwhelming that I decided to add this update. Anyway, I was told other scouts don't think very highly of Xanders' ability to pick players. And as for his experience, they say he has none actually picking players. So there is that. I was also told Xanders fits Ross in that he's calm and very willing to play nice with others. A more balanced outlook.]

Xanders completed his interview with the Dolphins on Wednesday. He was the sixth candidate to interview. But immediately he stands out because he is the first candidate for Dolphins GM who has been an NFL GM before.

Xanders was the Denver Broncos GM from 2009-2012. He was the team's assistant GM in 2008.

It's unclear how much personnel say Xanders truly had in Denver. He didn't have final say under coach Josh McDaniels. And he certainly didn't have it after McDaniels was fired and the Broncos hired John Elway. But he was obviously a resource.

After Xanders was fired from the Broncos after the 2012, the Denver Post recapped his time with the team and what personnel decisions were made under his watch. Here it is:


Draft: Xanders’ first in Denver, was one to forget. The Broncos used their two first-round picks to select running back Knowshon Moreno and defensive end Robert Ayers, neither of whom have lived up to first-round billing. But it was the second round of that draft that was particularly poor. None of three players drafted in that round, cornerback Alphonso Smith, safety Darcel McBath or tight end Richard Quinn, was on the roster in 2012.

ree agency: The first free-agent class of the McDaniels-Xanders era was a big one, and included veterans such as safety Brian Dawkins, wide receiver Jabar Gaffney, cornerback Andre Goodman, running back Correll Buckhalter and longsnapper Lonie Paxton.

Trades: Xanders helped orchestrate the blockbuster trade that sent quarterback Jay Cutler to Chicago. The Broncos received two first-round picks, a third-round pick and quarterback Kyle Orton in exchange for a fifth-rounder and Cutler, who began feuding with McDaniels shortly after the new coach was hired.


Draft: The Broncos made a splash in the first round of the draft by making two trades down and two trades up and ultimately winding up with wide receiver Demaryius Thomas at No. 22 and quarterback Tim Tebow at No. 25. The Broncos also drafted starters Zane Beadles, J.D. Walton and Eric Decker in the second day of the draft.

Free agency: The Broncos’ big free agent signings were defensive tackles Justin Bannan and Jarvis Green, who both received big-money contracts. Green, who had $3.25 million guaranteed in his contract, did not make the 53-man roster. Bannan was released in a cost-saving move in 2011 before re-joining the team this year. Later, the Broncos signed defensive end Elvis Dumervil and guard Chris Kuper to contract extensions.

Trade: The Broncos traded troubled wide receiver Brandon Marshall to Miami for two second-round draft picks. The other notable trade of the offseason came when Denver shipped fan-favorite running back Peyton Hillis to Cleveland in exchange for quarterback Brady Quinn. Quinn never took a regular-season snap for the Broncos.


Draft: With the highest pick in team history, Denver drafted linebacker Von Miller at No.2, and he was an immediate star. The Broncos drafted three other players who started in 2011 — safeties Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter, and right tackle Orlando Franklin.

Free agency: The biggest names in the Broncos’ post-lockout free agent class were running back Willis McGahee, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2011 and made the Pro Bowl as an alternate, and defensive tackle, who suffered a season-ending injury in training camp.

Trades: The Broncos traded for defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley in August, and he went on to start 13 games. The team was unable to re-sign Bunkley this spring. Denver also traded wide receiver Jabar Gaffney to Washington for defensive end Jeremy Jarmon, who did not make the team. In October, the Broncos traded unhappy wide receiver Brandon Lloyd to St. Louis for a fifth-round draft pick.


Draft: Denver traded out of the first round of the draft before selecting defensive tackle Derek Wolfe at No. 36 and quarterback Brock Osweiler at No. 57 in the second round. Denver drafted seven total players.

Free agency: Other than the Peyton Manning signing, Denver otherwise has been relatively quiet in free agency. The team signed veteran free agent Mike Adams and re-signed linebackers Joe Mays and Wesley Woodyard.

Trades: After Manning signed on as the team’s new starting quarterback, the Broncos traded Tim Tebow to the New York Jets in exchange for fourth- and sixth-round draft picks.

So clearly there were bombs. But there were highlights. The 2010-2011 drafts produced the most starts (155) and playing time (more than 12,000 snaps) of any NFL team.

Xanders is said to have unearthed cornerback Chris Harris, who was an undrafted free agent.

Xanders is currently Detroit's senior personnel executive under Martin Mayhew. Xanders was hired by the Lions in January 2013 and one of his responsibilities was to develop an internal scouting database to help the team better process information during the draft. 

So what does Xanders look for when he scouts?

"We're looking for guys with football instincts, which is wide vision, anticipation, savvy angles, quick recognition of what's going on," Xanders told Fox Sports Florida in 2012. "What instincts and speed lead to is production. If you have that and some athleticism and strength, you tie it all together and all you have to have is some competitive toughness. You get a productive player.

"And off the field, we grade a player in four different areas. Injury and durability, and that's just a function of how they made it through college. Number two is mental and learning. The third thing is personal character, the dependability, the leadership, the off-field issues or no issues, and then their family. The fourth is football character, which is effort, work ethic, passion for football. It all blends into this scouting process."


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Oh, and Philbin, Coach


you seem to be giving Ross a lot for credit where it shouldn't be given.

Ross actually gave Ireland an extension after week 3 of this season. The structure that is here is fragmented with sizeable gaps. For any organisation to work you have to have shared beliefs, values and form strong relationship throughout.

Leadership: is also critical from the top. With the lack of leadership we have seen form Ross and his constant indecision and gaffs he is left looking dumb.

Loyalty: is another key component organisation success. Philbin throughout his tenure here has shown more loyalty to his old friends than he has the overall good of this team. The fact that Ross had to fly in on Ear Force 1, making a public exibition of himself goes to prove that.

The debacle of Bullygate really showed a lack of all of the above. No-one knew what was going on, no-one knew what the answers were, until the NFL set out clear guidelines for then.

Direction: At the end of the season Philbin was asked about the teams collapse during the last two games, his answers was, "I really don't know", thats not good enough and quite pathetic actually. To me that reads of a guy that doesn't have the explanation nor the answers to millions of loyal fans.

Marco from London.

Steve Ross is loyal to a fault. And he isn't cheap when it comes to spending. When you play in the (N)ot (F)or (L)ong league, you want an owner that gives you at least a chance to give your work time to come to fruition. It may have taken him 6 years, but Jeff Ireland finally put together a playoff caliber product. I think that's a big reason chip Kelly came to Philly. I'm from pa an let me tell you- Jeff Lurie is a great owner. Only stability produces winners on the field. Not to mention, Carl Peterson by all accounts, is well respected still in league circles so if he is advising Ross, that's a good thing.

By all accounts, joe philbin has a plan but he needs the proper personnel and assistant coaches. Personally, I think coyle, turner, and Taylor need to go and be replaced. By all reports, the offense didnt trust Sherman by the end of the season and not philbin. The best thing for philbin is that his mentor, Sherman, is gone. Now maybe we can see what kind of coach philbin really is.

Those of you who don't think miami is a good team to come to work for ate highly highly foolish. Harbaugh wanted to stay on the west coast. Jeff fisher picked a team with way more draft picks and a supposed franchise QB (ours is much better than noodle arm Bradford). Manning didnt want to be part of a rebuilding project plus he is not a wco guy. Schneider and decosta are heir apparents at their current jobs. To be honest, Tom gamble is a fool for passing up the interview. He wants complete GM control over everything but has never been a gm before. What gives him the right or has he earned the right I have complete managerial control over an organization? Or just maybe, Jeff lurie is taking good care of him and promising him the world behind the scenes so why would he leave Philly?

Dashi we can agree on this. If we get Farmer or Xanders. The off season so far will be considered a success. Factoring Lazor into that

"All the owners are billionaires that have set up empires..."
---Posted by: Marco in London | January 16, 2014 at 08:51 AM

Marco, not true. If we look at Pittsburgh, which has won the most Superbowls- and which we might deduce is the best franchise- the family that owns it has little money outside of its football operations. It was not founded nor ever run by an empire builder.

Anyway, I was talking about Ross' attributes so far as finding the right people to run his organizations. He's obviously good at that. He wasn't a Real Estate salesman accumulating wealth; he started as a tax attorney. He found the right people along the way to building an empire.

(BTW, Steve Ballmer was the business side of Microsoft, right from his college days with Gates.)

Thanks Mando, now Ross will take this article, find "Willy Pete" off the street and using this article as a manifesto give it to Pete and tell him to go be his new GM for about $50.00 a week. Dawnhoejoe will swoon, Ross will get jealous, fire Willy Pete and we're back where we started,,,,nice job.

And he apparently dabbles in the idea of using a sort of sabremetrics to speed information gathering on players, something Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is certain to appreciate because he enjoys being confused by such things.

Great line Armando.....

A bit of a low blow IMO....but still a great line....



What I am saying though is getting Xanders and Farmer.

Xanders would be that one person everyone will answer to. Get Farmer as a GM because he is a good talent evaluator. And GM is a step up for him. As President is a step up from GM.

I am not one of those that believes the GM has to be the guy with all the power. The GM is just the Head of the Personnel Department. And if you have a good coach the GM works under him. Or side by side with him if you have a good GM.

Oh no we might lose our LB coach to Minnesota. LB's were the strength of our team last year. I blame this on Philbin and Ross!!

Dear Mr. Salguero

If you reach back a little further into Xanders career you would also see he was the front man for Cheap Trick.

I got to see Xander and company live several times and who could forget there hits like The dream police, I want you to want me and Surrender.

I'm not sure how he will fair as a Dolphins GM but I would pay again to see him perform live in concert once again.

Still living in the past

Soiled :)

Stephen Ross is loyal to a fault and I give him credit for changing what has not worked, anything else would be insanity.

The very arrogant Ireland should have been fired a long time ago. He was allowed to leave with his delusional dignity.

u said late pick

I see London I see France I see Marco Chited his Underpants.

at 8:31. You know where the Qb finished in 4th q tds? 18th. NOt great, not bad, middle of the pack.

Get educated.

18th in Td's in the 4th.

Oh thats ok then, least Thill aint 19th.

Orlando Franklin is from my neck of the woods, of course he's great.

Yes, the Vikings took our Linebacker coach as Defensive Coordinator. Things are starting to look up!

Aw Kris... Lazor Razer...

Would Zach Thomas want to be out LB coach!!

That thought makes me happy

Did someone really say he seems only 50/50?

In our wildest dreams!

Kris, you would think mando would learn his lesson about running jokes on the Dolphins. They made him look like a complete hack yesterday. Making fun of Philbin for being slow and dim witted and letting MCAdoo got to the Giants and lettting Lazor got to Detroit, meanwhile back at the ranch, Philbin was pulling all the strings. McAdoo only went to the Giants after being informed Lazor was going to be the CO in Miami. All without Mando and his sources not having a clue ... you think this guy would learn his lesson by now... especially after bullygate and DawnJoe... but apparently not.

Soiled... LIVE AT BUDOKAN!!!

Mark I see this differently because I think the Dolphins read everything Armando writes and it was clear once he started rightly complaining that "uncle Joe" was moving slow then ol' joe got moving and finally offered the job to someone. I read somewhere that lazor got offered the job yesterday morning. so it makes sense it happened after mando wrote his blog imploring the dolphins to get off their butts.


When I said late round pick, 2nd round counts. I was judging on the Ireland scale LOL

Marco, it's not exactly 27th, is it???

Tannehill was the same as Andrew Luck and Nick Foles in this category...

z thomas is basically brain dead

Big O on 640 a.m. Says his NFL sources call Xanders a joke, a poor choice for GM.

Why is everyone ignoring the reporting of a leading local Sports Talk Host?

haha, scourt, really, he was offered the job because Mando said they should do it. Does everyone have this power or just Mando?

Let me try

I wish the Dolphins sign all pros at all positions by 10:00 this morning ...

Mark's account of the Lazor hiring makes me laugh. Joe knew Lazor was his guy after talking to his friend McAdoo who was wanted by the Giants and Ravens?

yeah, next you'll tell me Joe knew firing Sherman would be best for the Dolphins and he wasn't forced to do it.

What assbackwards world some people live in.

Mando didn't even know Lazor was still on the market, let alone have the clout to force a hiring...

Nobody that drafts TT is worth a crap as a GM.

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | January 16, 2014 at 09:31 AM


He learned nothing. Followed it up with the blah blah blah story about Gamble not interviewing because of the dysfunction in Miami.

Meanwhile Gamble is happy in Philly and has a sick father he wants to be close to there.

Frank from PA,you ask why would Gamble want to leave Philly? It's January,and where would anyone want to be,in So.Fla,or Philly? I am speaking from my own experience,I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and moved to So.Fla right out of high school and never looked back. That was over fifty years ago!

Anyone see the pic Davonne Bess posted on twitter. It is a table with a bag of weed a half smoked blunt and his screen on his phone says "Jah"

Davone Bess is a Rasta at heart. I am sure he will now be labeled a drug addict. Its funny, his official twitter pic is him in a Dolphins jersey.

I dont care that he is rasta, dont put photos on twitter with drugs in it. It wont go over well

So how did it go down in your book there tim, the Dolphins just tripped over Lazor? They didn't have to fight off competition from Detroit for him? he just stayed there sitting on their doorstep?

Mark, you are newer to this blog but I remember Armando complained about the dolphins handing aj edds the number 54 and they changed course and didn't do it.

He complained about ross flying around behind Sparano's back and he owner apologized and said he didn't realize it was wrong. I remember Armando got on the dolphins about letting JT because of Parcells and soon as parcells left they signed him back. Also, when Armando complained about Philbin not inspiring his team ... how'd that work out in the final two games. Armando complained about Philbin reading from index cards during his victory speech and suddenly that stopped.

Armando showed Dawn Aponte to be a Jezzabel and suddenly assclowns like Darlington are enlisted to come to her defense even though the entire league knows she's a joke.

We're all fans here and want the Dolphins to win. We all want to think positive. I see Mando holding these people feet to the fire which is needed because they obviously make a lot of mistakes.


Rain 0%


.perfect weather for the home afc championship game at the joe

Mark dude you complain more about Armando on this blog than you do about the football team that hasn't had a winning season since my 4-year-old been alive.

But your always here.


Pro Michael,

Yes and no. It has already occured with Ireland and not it hasnt occured again because the GM hire has not been made. We can agree that Ireland's personnel accumen was below par, that Philbin and Aponte from all accounts speak in one voice, and just a few too many potential top notch GM candidates have shyed away. Like I have stated before the NFL is a tightnit organization. Hard to fathom a top notch assistant GM would not want this job. Any top notch candidate would without a doubt work with the HC to forge a roster capable of executing the HC's offensive and defensive philosophies. The strong GM business model isn't broken. It is still about the right hire. Unfortunately here in Miami those hires have not worked out. I am not saying what Ross is attempting to set up wont work, I am just not confident the right people will be in place. Again, none of us really know what is going on other than what we read and bonce off each other in these blogs. That said, and from what you read, do you doubt Aponte is seeking more power within the potential triad being formulated? Do you have doubt that both Philbin and Aponte have a unique segway directly to the owner? So, if you were a potential GM candidate, an outsider coming in, how would you precieve it? It something worth discussion and consideration.

hey mark
she leaves a 3000.00 ar 15/scope in the trunk of her boy friends rental cars trunk

hence is y some call him
Marcia becuz all she duz is bch

newer? been here since 2007...

scourt, you're a Mando fan, I appreciate that. Some of those instances you pointed out did happen as you say - I remember - others don't really agree but that's not important.

Anyway, me and you butting heads about Mando is nothing new - you've cussed me out, I returned the favour, we get over it and handle it like men.

But I have severe doubts any of those instances have the same magnitude as hiring the OC...anyway. We can agree to disagree and have differing opinions of the job someone is doing.

That's the beauty of the countries we live in.

egodine, as I said many times, i don't come here for Mando. If Mando decided tomorrow to write about the Miami Heat or the Buffalo Bisons, i wouldn't go folow him.

He happens to be the journalist with the best blog format of the bestest team in the world with some of the coolest fans to go back and forth with.

That's why I'm here. Saying I'm here for mando is like saying I go to a certain bar because of the chandalier.

So in other words, He's only drafted Miller,Thomas and Decker that were decent.

No thanks. Ray Farmer for me...

marks continuous pixxing and
moaning pay$ 4
Armandos mango coladas
in those Dominican republix get aways

- Mr. Ross, I want to tell you something about Lazor. - Don't Dawn, tell me how much you saved in cap money.

2 watt saying all I DO is biatch?? That's rich.

And there was only one that called me Marcia.. the infamous Daytona... which could be you... probably is... doesnt matter anyway...

cheapskate ross

Daytona beach
been there aplenty

Who the he!l picks Pat White in the 2nd round?? are you kidding me.

What's worse is that Parcells personally flew to the senior bowl to scout him and still came away thinking he was worth the 44th pick. Plan was to take him after that but Parcells got nervous New England was going to take him first. Yeah, right. lol

2 watt, you don't pay for drinks in the Dominican you dimwit.

When we talk about our GM candidates it seems that we quickly have a preview of the 2 finalists. These two would be farmer and Xanders. Not sure don't know much about either.
Farmer is a novice who hasn't been GM but the picks in KC during his tenure are very good. My only worry is that the supposed pro bowlers turned out to be the most overrated team this season.
Xanders has GM experience but the broncos were below
Stellar most of those years, and take Peyton out of the equation and that is a sub 500 team

Never the less i will support either hiring because there positives outweigh there negatives

hey, my 'lil buddy 78 is here

Grier @ 7:19 AM:

Excellent post!

mark, Armando stays
^ in the mountains dummy
not at the beach resorts

"The debacle of Bullygate really showed a lack of all of the above. No-one knew what was going on, no-one knew what the answers were, until the NFL set out clear guidelines for then."

Please with this already. What debacle? You mean they didn't know what was going on because nothing was going on? What was going on? One player used the N word against another player? Oh no, how could they have missed it?!

78 is here 2 help u
pixx and moan
and add blog hits
4 Armando

Huizenga gave all the power to Jimmy Johnson, Nick Saban and Bill Parcells and look what happened.
Posted by: promichael | January 16, 2014 at 06:57 AM

So you're saying that Ross's never having a winng season is better? Are U F'N kidding me? I'd give full power to any one of those 3 over the Ross dysfunction.

between 78 + u
writing tomes
4 every f'n post Armando will
own the herald soon

Hey look! It's "2 watt". And what I mean by that is,,hey look, there's a guy pretending to be a character in a blog where no one knows each other.

Could you be a bigger weirdo? I doubt it.

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