Building a championship team under the salary cap
I hope this post will help some people who are not already caught up in the nuts and bolts of the Saints structure and building a championship franchise understand some decisions that have to be made or at least understood.
With the implementation of the salary cap, came a level playing field, well a lot more level than the days of Jerry Jones buying Championships because he could afford to. The cap also changed the dynamic or how teams are being built, for example the Packers, Patriots, Saints.
Playing the roll of the GM here are a couple of decisions that have to be made: Keep in mind you only have so much money to spend.
What do I want my team to look like.
I will list a few examples of both below.
Saints/Patriots/Packers: Great offense - ok defense. The idea here is to have the ability to put massive amounts of points on the board, so much that your defense does not have to be that strong, and your opponents just can not keep up. These teams consistently make the playoffs.
Steelers/49ers/Jets/Ravens: Great defense - ok offense. In this model you focus your money on a shut down defense and hope your offense can kick enough field goals and maybe a TD or two to win the game. These teams consistently make the playoffs (49ers have been restructured)
Cowboys/Bears/Chargers: Good (not great) on both sides of the ball (all with in the middle of the league in stats). These teams did not even squeak in on wildcards this year.
Some teams it seems can not focus and are still looking to build that model franchise that has both a great offense and great defense, those teams struggle with success.
Now comes the difficult parts for fans and GM's alike. You have chosen to be dominant on one side of the ball, swallowing mediocrity on the other side of the ball can be quite difficult.
I will speak for myself on this topic, and explain why I feel like I do about a few players. I am all on board with the dominant offense and ok defense. It works for us, and works well. Maintaining that focus I think there are a few key players on the offense that need to be kept at any expense, or at the expense of the defense.
Brees: This is the motor of our offense. To not contract him this season means going into the season with an ok defense, and a better than average offense.....To those who say anyone could step into our offense and be as successful, I challenge you to name that QB.
Graham: Jimmy is not just a tide end, Jimmy is the player that has the ability to go into a pile for a jump ball and come down with it. This is a clutch receiver and the reason Drew uses him so much.
Sproles: So versatile that when he is on the field you HAVE to account for him, there is no other way out. He is also integral on our return teams.
These three players are the core of our productivity, they represent both a lethal air and ground attack.
I know some of you are fans of Thomas, Coleston... and so am I. The three above are the ones that can not be replaced in this league, this season with equal talent. The three above are game changers. That being said if any of their production falls, they need to go.
Our defense is frustrating as hell at times... We have difficulty stopping the run at times, we get burnt on pass plays, we cant seem to intercept a ball, and do not get a whole lot of pressure on the QB...
I am ok with that, as long as our offense maintains its elite status and the ability to outscore nearly all of our opponents.
At one time we were the dominant force on defense... remember the Dome Patrol of 91? Who were the all stars on offense in that era? Hebert/McCafee/Turner were our stat leaders...
Now is the gray area:
You can absolutely change the tides by bringing in an all star through the draft or free agency fairly cheap, the catch is with in 3 years that all-star will command a much higher contract value.
These are the players that the fans adore, love, and never want to let go of. 'He is our guy". The problem is that as their age increases their productivity generally decreases. The hard honest fact is that no matter how much you see them as "your guy", they are only around until they have a career ending injury, or someone offers them more money than you can afford. To the fans, the team is our passion. To the players, it is a job...career, and there are very few players that would stay with a team and not take bigger money to go somewhere else. They all know they have a limited number of years to make as much money as they can before they open their car lot.
A good discussion would be explaining why you have voted the way you did.
A solid defense wins championships. That's how I feel and that's the way I voted.
However, Drew isn't going to let that happen. He' going to win with a decent defense. And it will be decent at best because that is all we will be able to afford after we pay him.
... I have always been a student of "defense wins championships" & "you score points with offense, you win championships with defense", but the Saints/Packers/Patriots are all proof that this is not necessarily so anymore ... after years of mediocrity, my own Lions adopted the 'great offense/average defense' philosophy and made the playoffs ... if you can't stop 'em, outscore 'em ... I voted 'great offense/ok defense'.
I still think we can feild a Great offense and above average defense. The cap will likely be higher next year and we can trim some fat starting with players like Vilma. Its too early to freak out about defense. Wait and see what players develop under Spags that can replace some of our higher paid and older players.
We had one of the best defenses in the league when we had the Dome Patrol and we never won a playoff game. We couldn't score points. We have a Superbowl ring with our high powered offense and an opporitunistic defense, so you know where my vote goes.
I voted Great Offense, OK defense because in this day and age, those 2 combined are winning championships... but that's only 1 combination.
This multiple choice is sort of a trick question. New Orleans and Green Bay won similarly with this combo, but New York won with more of a balanced approached this season.
In 2009 Pittsburgh won with mostly a dominant defense and OK to good offense.
So truly each of these choices are "ways to win a superbowl" and the great offense with OK defense has been a late developing trend.
The NFL has become a QB-driven league. Last I checked, the QB plays on the offensive side of the ball.
So, I voted dominant O, ok D.
Todays NFL is different. NFL rules have changed so much that the old addage "defense wins championships" is as outdated as the forearm shiver.
I once looked at rankings of all the teams that won the superbowl the last 10 years and found that offense now wins Superbowls, not defense.
Also it was rare that any team won with either side of the ball being bad.
In my opinion, in todays NFL a great offense with a good defense appears to be the recipe for success.
Just my two cents.
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