SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

The NFL Free Agency Sweepstakes and Draft Anticipation

These things seem to draw as much if not more excitement than the actual seasons. 

The sad truth for NFL fans is that the teams -- with all their money -- have yet to be able to figure out the magical formula for staying relevant year in and year out, with one exception -- the New England Patriots.  True, they have Tom Brady, but it makes you wonder why analytics departments of the other teams haven't examined the Patriots' way year in and year it and tried to copy the formula.  Sure, they have perhaps the best quarterback of all time, but teams have won Super Bowls over the past ten years with good if not Hall of Fame quarterbacks. 

Instead, you hear annually about your team's first-round pick invented fire, and you also hear about two or three free agents who will fill big holes and take the hometown team to the next level.  But how frequently do those statements turn out to be true?  And isn't it the case that teams typically have blind spots for areas that will become problem areas if only because a) they were thin at that position, b) they were hoping someone would regain form from better, prior years' play, c) people get hurt or d) people start to slide and the team didn't foresee it. 

And yet, everyone plays amateur cap guy, GM and scout all wrapped up in one.  That's a bit amusing, too, when you think about it, because it seems that football is the hardest sport to grade, especially when compared to the other major sports.  How does the average fan really know what makes an offensive lineman better than the next one?  The same for any defenders.  It's easier, perhaps, to gauge skill position players on offense, but the rest?  Seems pretty hard to tell.

We sit buy and wait for our streams on Bleacher Report or the people whose twitter feeds we follow to spew out the next kernels of wisdom about why the Giants had a great day (if they did, as the spending seemed desperate), how Howie Roseman made some wise moves and why the Dolphins have people scratching their heads.  In trying to keep things simple, I harken back to something Bill Parcells once said, which was, "you are what your record says you are." 

The discussions and speculation are fun, football junkfood for the off-season.  At the end of the day, only a certain number of teams make the playoffs and only one will win the Super Bowl.  And then will measure the worth of the decisions of coaching staffs and front offices.

But for now, this is all football fans have, and they are making a banquet out of it.

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