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Football Is A Team Sport

No, we did not overpay Matt Ryan.

Kevin C. Cox

Hate to break this to some of you, but football is, indeed, a team sport.

Weakest Link

I have said on this blog before, "You are only as good as your weakest link." to which people have replied, "Well what if Michael Jordan and a baby played two regular people in basketball?"

Sure, in theory, that supports your argument, but if Jordan passes the ball to the baby, what happens?

1) It bounces off the baby

2) The baby (miraculously) catches it, and then travels

3) The baby spontaneously combusts into confetti because the amount of greatness that the ball has received is too much for the baby

Either way, the baby is useless. If Jordan doesn't pass the ball to the baby, then guess what? The baby's not a link that can be declared as your "weakest link".

Football uses at least 30 players every given week. If even one of them screws up, it can seriously alter the game.

Brooks Conrad (baseball), anybody? Did his meltdown a few years ago not seriously alter the Braves playoff run?

A Deck of Cards

Look at it like this (Nerd alert incoming):

I play a popular card game called Magic the Gathering. In it, you have a deck of at least 60 cards, and you play against someone with a deck of at least 60 cards. The best decks are, unsurprisingly, the most expensive, since they have the best cards in them.

So, without going into detail, let's break down a Magic deck and use football references. Bear with me, this will make sense.



(Disclaimer: I know 28 lands is too many for a normal deck. Work with me here!)

So your "Land" cards are what make up most of your deck. These are your special teamers in football, or your players that don't normally see meaningful football on either side. These are your Kevin Cone, Drew Davis (pre-catastrophe), Robert James type.

Land cards are important to a deck because they complete it, but without other cards, they are meaningless. Just like all football teams have to play special teams, and those players can be very important. Vitally important, in fact, but having quality special teams and nothing else means what? Losing.

The next step up is your common and uncommon cards. As these suggest, these are not "rare" cards, but cards that can be found everywhere on every team. These play an especially important role, because these are the meat and potatoes of your deck.

These are quality players that can either make or break your team. Common and uncommon "cards" (players) are everywhere, but choosing the right ones for your team (deck) can make all the difference between winning and losing a close game.

Common and uncommon cards are, by and large, inexpensive. It's easy to scoop a ton of these up without so much as a second thought. BUT, these cards are weaker. That's why they're not rare (starters). If you plug weaker players into a system that doesn't fit, it will ultimately fail. We have plugged Peter Konz and Garrett Reynolds into the wrong system, and it's failing.

Next up, we have the rare cards, or the starters that see significant playing time. These are the cards that set you up for the final blow.

These cards won't necessarily break the bank, but they are not cheap and not easily available. They're hard to find and, if someone has them, they don't want to part with them unless it's for the "right price". They're powerful and they're efficient.

They're your players who can make an impact and, if one goes down, it hurts. These are the players who can swing a game positively in your direction with a big play, and ones who are generally reliable. You probably couldn't name most of the "rare cards" of other teams, but that's fine, because every team has at least a few of them.

Next up are your super rare cards. These are the cards that deliver the final blow. They are the ones that, when they come into play, your opponent may as well wave a white flag. These are extremely rare and, of course, extremely pricey. Most decks only have a couple of these, but usually the ones that have more are more successful.

In football, they are the superstars. The Adrian Petersons, the Calvin Johnsons, or the Aaron Rodgers of the world. They are the players that you can rely on no matter what. Losing them is a catastrophe to your team and will almost assuredly cripple it. But they're also the most expensive. Quarterbacks are paid superstar money even if they are only a fringe starter.

Finding Value

Winning in either of the two aforementioned things is all about maximizing the value of what you have.

People can (and have) won Magic tournaments using cheaper cards. Why is that? Because they maximized the value of the cheaper cards. The Seahawks are doing this to perfection right now, and that's why they are so dominant. Half of their starters make next to nothing, which allows them to bring in "rare cards", or stronger players.

The Falcons, however, are not.

If anything, I'd say the Falcons are minimizing the value of what they have. There are still some good players on the team, but they are not putting them in a position to succeed. A deck full of good cards can still fail if they're not put together properly.

The Seahawks "deck of cards" (team) is stacked full of cheaper cards that flow together seamlessly. They have painstakingly put together a roster that is being paid nothing but winning everything.

Nothing about what the Falcons have done has been like that. The Falcons are paid everything and winning nothing! I'd say the Falcons have approached it in the exact opposite direction: building from the powerhouse cards down. That's a way to do things, sure, but what happens when the powerhouse cards are taken away? What are you left with?

Land. Dreaded, dreaded land.

(All of you MtG players out there can relate. What good is a hand full of land?)

Pieces of Seattle have been taken away, but they keep on winning. They've had some of their best pieces removed, but because they built their team on maximizing the value of common and uncommon "cards" (players), they've kept on going.

Win Condition

In the game of Magic, a "win condition" is basically a move or a card that is what you bring out in order to clinch victory. It's usually a powerhouse card of some kind.

The Seahawks have several win conditions. Richard Sherman? Russell Wilson? Marshawn Lynch? Earl Thomas? I could keep going.

Name a "win condition" on the current Falcons roster.




Done naming?

There is one.

And it's #2.

But win conditions do not come right out of the hat. They require a setup, or a careful planning of moves several turns ahead to ensure your win condition comes out and does what it's supposed to do: win!

But what happens when your opponent already knows of your win condition?

In Magic, games are played best 2 out of 3. In between games 2 and 3 in competitive play, you are allowed to substitute from a 15-card "side deck", if you will, to counter your opponent's strategy.

In football, this is comparable to pre-game planning, film study, and whatnot. It's a way to counter your opponent's strategy, or counter their win condition.

But what happens when your favorite team, the Atlanta Falcons, has only one win condition?

It becomes countered. Easily, in fact.

Now tell me, what good is a powerhouse card if it's countered immediately? It's a dead card. You know what else is as useful to the Atlanta Falcons as a dead card? Dave's alcoholism.

You can pay all the money in the world for the most powerful card, even if it's fair market value, but if your opponent knows it's your only ace, they can charge forward without fear once that ace is lost.

Is it the ace's fault it is the lone shining star in the deck? Or is it the person who built the deck, dooming it to fail from the very beginning?

Just some food for thought.