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Thread: Dan Le Batard: Talent, math and a lot of luck separate Patriots and Dolphins

  1. -1
    Perfect72's Avatar
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    OPINION Dan Le Batard: Talent, math and a lot of luck separate Patriots and Dolphins

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/3...riots-and.html



    Posted on Sun, Dec. 30, 2012
    Dan Le Batard: Talent, math and a lot of luck separate Patriots and Dolphins

    By Dan Le Batard

    The Dolphins and Patriots find themselves in vastly different positions Sunday, as usual, and here is but one snapshot that helps explain why:

    In the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Dolphins picked two spots ahead of the Patriots. They selected Koa Lisiate Foti Analeseanoa Misi, who joined the Morlon-Greenwood-Channing-Crowder assembly line of Dolphins linebackers who collect millions of dollars over many years without ever making a play anyone in Miami remembers. Two picks later, of course, the Patriots selected tight end Rob Gronkowski, who only has more touchdown receptions (37) than anybody in the entire sport since that draft ó ahead of even record-breaking Calvin Johnson, who is second with a mere 33, and ahead of Johnson even though Gronkowski hasnít even played in the past five games.


    In other words, Gronkowski has as many touchdown receptions in the past three years as Wes Welker does in his entire career, at least in part because Welker wasted some of that career here, with only one touchdown catch as a Dolphin to show for it. Welkerís funniest Miami memory was moving in next to an old-man neighbor who asked him what he did for a living. Welker told him he played professional football for the Dolphins. The old man looked him up and down and spit, ďNo wonder we were 1-15 last year.Ē Anyway, point is that Welker has been really great for the Patriots in a way he never was here, averaging an absurd 111 catches a season over six seasons, but Gronkowski has somehow produced just as many touchdowns as Welker in half the time there.
    So what happened in that 2010 draft? It is a question worth asking today as the rebuilding Dolphins prepare to enter the offseason with more and better picks than the Patriots. If the gap between these two teams is ever going to close, the draft is where itíll have to happen, and next to nobody in the contaminated South Florida fan base trusts Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland to use those picks correctly. Was a Dolphins team desperately in need of playmakers dumb or unlucky in that second round of 2010? Or are the Patriots just that much smarter than everyone else?


    How they compare


    Human beings crave control and understanding, even when those things are often just soothing illusions. In sports, this leads us to assign magical powers to the leaders who happen to win, as if they have some secret the rest of us losers donít. Oracle Bill Belichick allegedly sees things. The idea is that if Belichick and Ireland were putting the very same prospect through the very same workout, Belichick would be able to identify fortune-telling clues that would escape the attention of Ireland.


    This is nonsense, of course, and weíll look back at these mysticisms one day the way we do at Greek gods, but Belichick has something that feels like proof in his past whereas Ireland has little more than a distrust that the Dolphins have spent a decade earning. Hereís an amazing stat: Tim Tebow has won more playoff games in the past calendar year than the Dolphins have in the past 12. In terms of fortune-telling, that has a way of making Ireland look like the guy in gypsy-wear charging five dollars for fortunes at the flea market, Belichick versus Ireland feeling like Nostradamus versus Nostradumbass.


    But this probably is worth noting, too: The one time since 2004 that the Patriots didnít make the playoffs was when quarterback Tom Brady was injured and out for the year. Not coincidentally, that is also the one time since 2004 that the Dolphins did. And by the admission of everyone in the Patriots front office, they simply got lucky on Brady. Scott Pioli, formerly Pats player personnel man, used to keep a photo on his desk to remind himself that he isnít actually any smarter than guys such as Ireland. The photo was of offensive lineman Dave Stachelski, whom the Patriots selected a round before Brady in that draft. He never played a down in the NFL.

    In Common


    It is an oversimplification to give Brady all the credit for this decade-long run of the Patriots, especially since Belichick discovered and groomed him, albeit in the sixth round (and even though Belichick didnít actually play Brady until Drew Bledsoeís lungs filled with blood). But it is also impossible to overlook that so many of those who have been near this alleged Belichick magic dust, and have been hired as empire-builders because of their proximity to the magic dust, seem to misplace it with every step they take away from Brady.


    The flameouts of Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel and Josh McDaniels and Eric Mangini and Pioli suggest that whatever you learn from the master oracle is not repeatable elsewhere, in places that donít have Brady. If Gronkowski had been drafted by Miami, does he somehow look more like Anthony Fasano? That seems ridiculous on the surface until you consider this: Davone Bess has had not one, not two, but three seasons in Miami better than any Welker ever had here. But Welker went to New England and, very suddenly, became the first receiver ever to produce five 100-catch seasons.


    Brady has this way of making personnel errors on offense not look like errors. Peyton Manning has that same ability. It is why the Colts always would hit on their offensive draft picks.


    Tony Dungy guessed that, in a Peyton Manning offense, a tight end that was a shopping cart with an attached mannequin arm would gain 500 yards and have five touchdowns. (The offensive tackle, of course, would have to push the cart into its routes, and it might have a fumbling problem.)


    But, as Ireland is dismissed as a bum not to be entrusted with Miamiís bountiful future, it seems clear that this ďabilityĒ to find good players in the draft might not be much an ability at all. The perception is that Belichick is combing the beach with a metal detector and a map while Ireland is armed with only a spork, but there is an amazing randomness to finding these buried treasures.
    The third round of 2009 brought football LeSean McCoy and Mike Wallace while the Dolphins were selecting Pat White a round earlier. Ignoring that also ignores this: Before getting Gronkowski, Belichick tried to get that kind of tight end weapon for Brady for a decade, and in the first round no less, missing on Daniel Graham and Ben Watson (though Watson was merely average instead of a bust).


    Heck, in the first three rounds of Belichick drafts, youíll find a lot more failed Terrence Wheatleys and Shawn Crables and Marquise Hills and Chad Jacksons and Adrian Klemms than you will Gronkowskis. The perception is that Belichick stockpiles draft picks so he can use his super-secret powers to find value late where others canít see it, but the truth is that Belichick knows there is very little science to picking Lotto numbers, so he is just tilting the math in his favor by buying more tickets, giving himself more chances to get lucky. Helps, too, that he already won the lottery once, and at the gameís most important position.

    Bottom-Line approach appears to be:

    1. Stockpile as many draft picks as possible to give yourself more chances/opportunities to find talent because EVERYONE misses draft picks.
    2. Be crafty & conservative in Free Agency adding key veterans at a fair price.
    3. Moving on (cut/trade) from your declining players saving cash and/or getting more draft picks.
    4. Get Lucky on getting a Franchise QB.
    You Play to Win the Game!
    In It to Win It!


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    zach attach's Avatar
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    I disagree with Dan when he says that Belichik does not see anything different in players than Ireland does.

    "Oracle Bill Belichick allegedly sees things. The idea is that if Belichick and Ireland were putting the very same prospect through the very same workout, Belichick would be able to identify fortune-telling clues that would escape the attention of Ireland."


    I believe Belichik is better at picking players than Ireland is.
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    Snakes!Dolphins HomerDolphin
    Patriots drafting has been overrated. They haven't been able to build a decent defense in a while.
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    This is exactly what I have been saying for years. Having one of greatest quarterbacks of all time covers up a lot of mistakes in the draft and because of Brady's greatness, the offensive talent looks better than it is.
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    Very accurate article. I've thought this for a long time, the main part is how amazingly lucky they were to have found a HOF QB in the 6th rd. Just unheard of.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickd13 View Post
    This is exactly what I have been saying for years. Having one of greatest quarterbacks of all time covers up a lot of mistakes in the draft and because of Brady's greatness, the offensive talent looks better than it is.

    I don't think anyone would disagree with that. Hence why so many of us were suck for luck and why the front office was getting a lot of heat for taking 4 years before taking a potential franchise qb in the draft
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    MP-Omnis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zach attach View Post
    I disagree with Dan when he says that Belichik does not see anything different in players than Ireland does.

    "Oracle Bill Belichick allegedly sees things. The idea is that if Belichick and Ireland were putting the very same prospect through the very same workout, Belichick would be able to identify fortune-telling clues that would escape the attention of Ireland."


    I believe Belichik is better at picking players than Ireland is.
    The difference is that Ireland has been looking at what Player One can contribute to the team. Belichick likely looks more at what Player One could become in his system.

    We haven't had any sort of coaching stability for the past decade. They've all been bums and unable to adapt. Belichick is good because he can adjust his team to anything. Once you have the head (Brady), the body can be whatever you want it to be.
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    zach attach's Avatar
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    Good point MP..
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    This article is arguing a moot point because nobody thinks thr Patriots are better drafters than anyone else. But Belichick is probably the best in the league at utilizing his team's talents.


    If all you're goin' on is my confession, forget it. I'm simply not credible. -Dale Gribble
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    The Patriots had Scott Pioli awhile we had and still have carpet baggers. The Patriots organization understood 10 years ago about trading great players and getting excellent picks in return with confidence knowing that the front office would find other free agents and drafted players to plug the holes.
    We chose Carey over Wilfork who was drafted one pick later. It happens every year. They just have better scouting and better coaches.
    Meanwhile the Dolphins were on a GM, coaching, and QB merry-go-round.
    It all start with the front office IMHO.
    I see signs that we are closing that gap, and the Patriots era is starting to show some cracks. Philbin must have another GM and full control IMHO.
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