NASHVILLE, Tenn. —During his days as senior football advisor with the New England Patriots, former Titans general manager Floyd Reese shared an office at Gillette Stadium with several members of the team's personnel department.
One of them was Jason Licht, who's currently general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Another was Bob Quinn, hired recently as general manager of the Detroit Lions.
A third was Jon Robinson, who made quite an impression on Reese. On Thursday, Robinson was named general manager of the Tennessee Titans.
"You hear coaches talk all the time about when you get down to the fourth down play, there are certain guys that want the ball and other guys who might prefer it go to someone else,'' Reese said on Thursday. "Jon wanted the ball, and I always thought that was something special about him.
"One of the biggest concerns I always had coming out of New England, because Bill (Belichick) runs everything, is there's not a lot of guys that have a chance to make decisions, and when you get thrown into a GM situation like this, making a decision is the hardest thing to do. … If you've never done it, it is tough.
"One of the things I always liked about Jon is he was one of those guys that wanted to tell you, he wanted to give you his opinion. He had an opinion, and had reason and logic and something behind it. And I'm telling you, the guy is smart."
The Titans announced Robinson as the team's new general manager after interviewing five other candidates for the position. Robinson joins the Titans after spending the past two seasons as director of player personnel with the Buccaneers, during which time he oversaw all areas of the scouting department, both college and pro, in addition to free agency preparation, evaluating players in the NFL and other professional leagues.
Robinson spent 12 seasons with the Patriots (2002-13), where he worked as New England's director of college scouting (2009-13), and prior to that served as a regional scout and an area scout for the Patriots.
Reese, a long-time general manager with the Titans (1994-2006) who worked four years (2009-2012) with the Patriots, said the team got it right. Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk and Kenneth Adams IV from the ownership group, and President Steve Underwood, were involved in the interviews.
"Has he ever been a GM? No. Is that a drawback? Well, if it is then about every GM that is getting hired has a drawback,'' Reese, who currently serves as a talk radio host on 102.5 The Game, said of Robinson.
"But is he prepared? I think Amy and Kenneth and Steve, and the people involved, they hit a home run with this one. Jon is prepared, and is in the right spot. If you look at the things that are really important for success, then you would say this is a great match."
Shelton Quarles, director of football operations with the Buccaneers, agreed.
A 10-year NFL linebacker who starred at Vanderbilt, Quarles has worked alongside Robinson the past two years with the Bucs. Quarles said Robinson has an eye for talent.
"I think he has an overall great grasp of the league itself, from the guys coming in from college, to the guys that are already here on the pro side. And he has a great understanding of what it takes to set up a good roster and have a good team,'' Quarles said of Robinson. "He has a great ability to prioritize and make sure everyone is on task to get things done in a timely fashion. He works great with all the guys here, I've never heard any complaints. He is very organized and detail-oriented.
"He has been around some great coaches in Belichick and was with Lovie (Smith). He's done a great job over the last few drafts here, with Jameis (Winston) and all our young guys from the draft who've kind of helped put us on the right track. I am pretty sure he'll be able to do the same thing with the Titans."
During Robinson's time with the Patriots, the organization won 10 division titles, four conference titles and two Super Bowls.
The Patriots drafted players like receiver Julian Edelman, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive back Devin McCourty, tackle Nate Solder and defensive end Chandler Jones, among others, during that stretch.
ESPN's Mike Reiss, who has covered the Patriots since 1997, called Robinson "one of the most first-class people that I have dealt with in my time covering the Patriots.
"There's no doubt in my mind he has a good eye for talent,'' Reiss said. "In New England it is collaborative in terms of the way they do things. He was behind the scenes here … but I think if you asked any of the scouts that worked either alongside him or for him, they would tell you the respect they have for his evaluations, his accountability throughout the process of evaluating players, and really ego-less approach.
"This is not someone that is going to come in and say, 'Hey look, I know I've got it all figured out. I have all the answers.' So I think that speaks to him as well. He's obviously confident in his abilities, but I think he is an ego-less type of person."
In a statement, New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese congratulated Robinson, a native of Union City, Tennessee. Reese also grew up in west Tennessee, and went to school at Tennessee-Martin
"(I'm) proud of John and happy for him,'' Reese said. "He's worked hard to earn his stripes in this business. I wish him good luck!"
Licht, hired as general manager with the Bucs in 2014, offered praise for Robinson, who signed with the U.S. Air Force Academy out of high school before transferring to Southeast Missouri State, where he coached one season (1998) before serving three seasons (1999-2001) as a coach at Nicholls State.
"I first met Jon while I was a scout with the New England Patriots and he was a young position coach at Nicholls State University. After spending a day with him, I knew that he had a bright future in this business because he possessed the type of personnel and talent evaluation skills that NFL teams highly covet,'' Licht said. "A couple of seasons later, he was working with us at the Patriots and it became very clear that he would one day rise up the ranks to run his own team.
"During our 14 years together, Jon has been a valued co-worker and trusted advisor, but more importantly, a great friend. He was the first person I attempted to hire when I was named general manager of the Buccaneers and I was fortunate to have him by my side these past two years. Based on all that I know about Jon, I am certain he will enjoy great success with the Tennessee Titans. They could not have hired a better person to lead their football operations."
Floyd Reese talked to Robinson on Thursday morning, before he made his way to Nashville.
The fact he's returning to the state makes things even more special, Reese said. Robinson replaces Ruston Webster, whose contract wasn't renewed at the end of the 2015 season.
"He's an outstanding guy,'' Reese said of Robinson. "When he got the job, the first thing he said was 'I'm coming home.' He is a Tennessee boy. He loves Tennessee. And anybody that gets a chance to go back home and work a job of this caliber back home, it's a daily incentive. Every morning you're thinking my mom and dad are going to see what I am doing or my friends are going to see what I am doing …
"Jon will be outgoing. Coming back here and getting back in this environment, he'll be more accessible and visible. And I think the people here are going to love him."