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JudeThaddeus 10-04-2003 09:38 PM

Exploring the Talent Gap
I have often wondered what makes one NFL team so much better than another. There are a lot of easy answers; this star player; that stadium; this coach. I am not writing this to answer those question, just to explore a few facts and appeal to the logic of the worthy membership of the Black and Gold.

How far apart is the talent gap between one team and another at the NFL level? Seriously, if you stop to consider how few college players actually make the transition to NFL play....what is shows is that those playing in the NFL are the cream of the crop. In fact, because there are so few teams in the NFL and so many players coming out of college teams one could argue that those that actually make it onto an NFL squard are an order of magnitude better than their peers.

Since the Salary Cap came into existence, any team cannot really spend THAT much more money on players than any other. Therefore it cannot be a money issue. A team's management can make a bad decision and pay too much for a player. This would create a situation where some of their other players are at the bottom level of NFL quality talent. Even so, they are still NFL quality and then by definition MUCH better than most.

What we have here at the end of the day are pretty evenly matched teams across the NFL. The math of it won't allow it to work out any other way. This probably explains the decline in the "NFL Dynasty" situation and the year-to-year difference in Super Bowl teams. On any given year, a team can get hot and wind up taking it all the way.

I write all of this in the hope you will share your opinions on this issue. Your thoughts might inspire me and help me figure out what is going wrong here. Secondly: if the talent gap between teams is not so very large, then one can say that coaching plays a MUCH greater role in a team's success or failure than any other single factor. This supports the fact that we see those men who are considered great coaches being able to take a team not considered a contender and turn them into a champion in such a short time.

This is also primarily why I believe that our coaching staff is inadequate at best - incompetent at worst. OK, there it is. Let the flames begin.

WhoDat 10-05-2003 09:30 AM

Exploring the Talent Gap
I\'d mostly agree with you Jude - although there is a difference between a mustang and a porsche. In my mind there are two major difference-makers from one team to the next: coaching and talent evaluation.

Coaching is probably the most important factor for success. Coaching can make the Tampa offense look like a bunch of super stars and put up 30+ points a game in the playoffs. Coaching can help a team with Trent Dilfer at the helm win a Super Bowl. Coaching can make the Carolina defense one of the best in the league. Likewise, as we all know here, coaching can cause a defense that led the league in sacks for two straight years drop to 26th in the league in a single season, and it can turn one of the most talented offenses in the league into a pop warner squad.

To me coaching is about one thing: getting your players in positions to make plays. Having a game plan that exposes your opponent\'s weaknesses, having a general strategy that accentuates your strengths and gives your team an identity throughout the season, and adjusting and calling plays in-game to give your players a chance to use their talent.

Thus, it is the job of your personnel department to get the coaches the types of players that will make the plays in the coaches\' system. In other words, put more corvettes on the field than mustangs, or, if you\'re planning for agility, fill the field with porsches... straight-away speed, Ferraris. This definitely requires good money management and a good eye. Knowing the difference between stats and performance. Being able to see that a guy like Tebucky Jones, who has all the physical gifts, but hasn\'t produced, might not be the best bet, whereas a player with a little extra of the intangibles can be a star (see Favre).

Obviously, these two components, which I think are found on any good team, are not mutually exclusive. They must work together in order to be successful. That\'s my two cents, for whatever its worth.

[Edited on 5/10/2003 by WhoDat]

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