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Drafting for Sufficiency

OCC wrote a foretelling piece during training camp about how to predict what teams will be successful and which would not in the coming season.  It was called "O-ring theory".  The theory states that instead of comparing Brady vs. Manning, instead, one should compare the worst players on the individual teams.  The theory goes that with such great talent in the league and dozens of brilliant minds studying every frame of tape from every game like the Zapruder film, that teams gain great leverage from taking advantage of weaknesses.  So as the season plays out it is generally the teams with the fewest weak links that rise to the top.  That it is better to have a team full of "good" than a team with a bimodal distribution of talent.

When we look at the 2010 Dallas Cowboys, it is a team with enough talent to beat anyone but so many holes they could, and did, lose to anyone.  How did the games play out?

Opponents double-teamed Ware and Ratliff to take them out of the game and dared the weak links to try to preassure the QB - the weak links couldn't.

Opponents threw deep passes to DeSean Jackson and Mike Sims-Walker and dared the Cowboys safeties to cover their men - the weak links couldn't.

Opponents attacked the right side of the O-line with reckless abandon and dared the Cowboys to try to hold the line  long enough for Austin and Dez to exploit them - the weak links couldn't hold the line.

Now let's look across the league to the New England Patriots.  They are a 14-2 team, we are a 6-10 team.  Why?  Was it the talent?  Let's look at the top-5 players on each team:

Cowboys:

Romo
Ware
Ratliff
Austin
Dez

Patriots:

Brady
Welker
Mankis
McCourty
Light

Which list would you rather have?  Seriously.  Sure, maybe you'd rather have Brady than Romo.  But who do you want running routes - Miles Austin or Wes Welker?  Mankins is a great guard but he's not the factor in games Ware is to be sure.  Is anyone in Dallas crying that we passed on McCourty in 2010 to pick Dez?  I don't think so.  Hey, I'll trade you Matt Light for Ratliff!  What, you don't want to make that deal?

The Cowboys have more top talent than the Patriots.  Why can't we be 14-2!

O-ring theory.

Where's the holes on the Patriots team?  Where do you want to attack?  They have a team that has consistent talent across the board.  Every position has a player in it that is sufficient for NFL caliber play.

How many players on the Cowboys team would you rate as insufficient?

Colombo, Davis, Gurode, Ball, Sensabaugh, Brooking, Hatcher, Spears, Barber, maybe the cornerbacks.  There's a lot of guys that aren't sufficient.

So what do we do?  We need to start making those positions sufficient.  We get a guy like Michael Huff that won't be going to pro-bowls but can handle the free safety position.  We don't draft a top talent like Tyron Smith to instead get extra picks to draft sufficient guys at 2 positions instead of just 1.

If the Cowboys can bring the weak links on their team up to the level of sufficiency in the NFL, they're going to be a scary team.  This is a team that has the top talent to beat anyone in the league -- but it can only do so if it can eliminate the weak links that undermine its ability.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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