Parity: Why Every Team in the NFL Is Now Flawed
The National Football League for years has been making itself deliberately mediocre. There was a philosophy born under Commissioner Paul Tagliabue known as “Parity;” the primary components of which was there should be no dynasties. Rather, teams should be able to quickly build themselves into contention through free-agency and the draft.
Last season, the graphic below was posted on Reddit by user danchan22. It clearly illustrates the circular progression of Parity as shown with head-to-head wins.
It looks confusing at first, but it is actually quite simple. Start at the top with at the logo of the Atlanta Falcons. Reading clockwise, the chart tells you the Falcons beat the Buccaneers 27-21. Continuing clockwise, the Buccaneers defeated the Browns 17-14. Continue around the circle until it leads you back to the Steelers beating the Falcons 15-9.
What is being graphically demonstrated here is that while the era of the dynasty has not disappeared (the 49ers from 1981 to 1996 and the Patriots from 2001-2008 for example), the era of the “complete team” is clearly dead.
The aforementioned 49ers may very well be the last “complete team” the NFL has seen. Championships team all used to have the full package. Look at the Steelers teams of the 70’s…first-rate ownership, management, and coaching, hall-of-famers at quarterback, wide receiver, running back, offensive line, and scattered throughout a defense which would cause your liver bleed just by saying its name. The Walsh-Seifert 49ers can say the same, despite the fact their defense tended to be overshadowed by the star power on offense.
There isn’t one team in this league today that you will say this about in 30 years. Look at last years Super Bowl contestants – The Packers’ running game disappeared with Ahman Green, and the Steelers offensive line couldn’t block a hat. Go through all 32 NFL squads, and tell me which one doesn’t sport a major flaw…
- Arizona Cardinals – no defense, unproven quarterback, weak offensive line, and one the worst owners in all of sports
- Atlanta Falcons – talent-wise, this might be the closest thing to a “complete” team out there, but this team has a crushing lack of leadership and will never win until that is addressed
- Baltimore Ravens – nearly as close to “complete” as the Falcons, but old and oft-injured at too many key positions
- Buffalo Bills – have simply too many C-list players across the board
- Carolina Panthers – an inept defense and a rookie quarterback who is going to lead the league in interceptions
- Chicago Bears – what may very well be the worst offensive line in the league
- Cincinnati Bengals – the classic example of what happens when you have bad ownership and management that can’t recognize talent
- Cleveland Browns – weak in the secondary and linebacking corps, quarterback and coaching staff are unknowns
- Dallas Cowboys – offensive line sucks, rookie coach, inconsistent defense, and the drama that always surrounds Jerry Jones
- Denver Broncos – a fan base that thinks Tim Tebow is a starting quarterback in the NFL, the complete absence of talent on the offense with far too few exceptions, and a similar problem on defense
- Detroit Lions – still cleaning up the legacy of Matt Millen, which as deep of a hole that is, this team could be as close to “complete” sooner than people think, provided their idiot owner stays “hands-off”
- Green Bay Packers – a vastly over-rated defense and a nearly absent running game
- Houston Texans – get rid of Gary Kubiak and add a dominating offensive lineman
- Indianapolis Colts – start with accepting the Peyton Manning era is over – burn the wreckage to the ground and start over
- Jacksonville Jaguars – build a dominant running game around Maurice Jones-Drew and hope for the best – losing Jack Del Rio also wouldn’t be a bad idea
- Kansas City Chiefs – this team has far too much talent to be this bad – that usually spells a coaching issue
- Miami Dolphins – what happens when you have a decade of instability in the front office – find a leader who will commit to moving the franchise in a specific direction and stick to it
- Minnesota Vikings – change absolutely everything except Adrian Peterson – start with ending the parade of washed-up quarterbacks
- New England Patriots – complete absence of a defense
- New Orleans Saints – defensive secondary needs help and the offensive line can’t support a running game
- New York Giants – an offensive line that looks like a retirement home and a defense that looked pretty good in 2008 – too bad this is 2011
- New York Jets – its time for Mark Sanchez to prove he’s a big time quarterback, which may be tough behind a C+ at-best offensive line
- Oakland Raiders – Two words: Al Davis
- Philadelphia Eagles – terrible offensive line and a tiny quarterback who gets hurt a lot
- Pittsburgh Steelers – an offensive line nearly as bad as the Bears
- San Diego Chargers – show this coaching staff a picture of Vince Lombardi, and they will say “Who’s that?”
- San Francisco 49’ers – Buffalo by the Bay…just not enough talent, but that’s only for now…
- Seattle Seahawks – write this down and remember it…Pete Carroll will never win in the NFL
- St. Louis Rams – the 49’ers of the Midwest…just not enough talent, but that may not change under the current ownership
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – anybody who would own Manchester United can’t be good for an American sport
- Tennessee Titans – Bud Adams never gets credit for what a crazy old man he is largely because he is overshadowed by Al Davis and Jerry Jones
- Washington Redskins – Dan Snyder and the Shanahans give Washington as much chance of victory as Herman Goerhing did for the Luftwaffe
What it all comes down to is now being a “great” team is not about being complete. A “bad” team simply has more weakness than it can manage, a “good” team has manageable weaknesses, and a “great” team has manageable weaknesses which are overshadowed by its strengths.
Screw “parity.” I’d rather have a handful of truly great, truly complete teams to either love or hate rather than 28 fair-to-middlin’ squads and four crappy ones.