1. There is an interesting pictograph on ESPN's NFL page this morning. After analyzing every team's roster from the previous seven conference championship games, they determined that 40 percent of the qualifying players on those teams were given "good" or "elite" grades. They then took the 30 teams that did not make the Super Bowl this year, and gave all qualifying players a grade of elite, good, average or bad. Based on that analysis, they determined how many more above average players each team needed to hit the 40 percent threshold to be in the contender conversation.
2. Sooooooo, of the 30 teams not in the Super Bowl, and based on this quasi-scientific analysis, guess where YOUR Washington Redskins finished in the final tally? No...not last place. That would be ridiculous. It was actually second-to-last. (Technically, the Redskins and Jaguars are tied for last place, but for some reason, ESPN felt generous enough to list the Redskins at 29th and the Jaguars at 30th. I'll take it!) In other news, Billy likes to drink soda and Ms. Lippy's car is green.
3. By this measure, the Redskins need to add 13 above average players to be considered ready to contend for a Super Bowl. Hmmmmmmm...how many draft picks do we have again? How much salary cap space do we have again? This seems like a rather tall order. About a third of the teams require at least 10 additional above average players added to their roster, according to this exercise. Think about that for a second. There aren't that many above average players to go around in the offseason. There might be hundreds of new players on rosters next season, after the draft and free agency, but there won't be hundreds of above average players changing uniforms. That means that while some teams will make quantum leaps from 2014, the reality is that most of the 30 teams on this list will remain on this list in 2015, albeit with fewer bodies needed.
4. If you needed any more support for the theory that getting to a Super Bowl is one of the harder feats to accomplish in professional sports, to me, this adds a lot of that support. The New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts--two teams many would say have a shot at contending for the Super Bowl every year that they trot out their current starting quarterbacks--both need an additional NINE above average players to get there. Listen, I am not about to base my entire outlook of this Washington team on one Monday morning pictograph, but it does seem to capture some...truth. Even the blind homer in me looks at these numbers and kind of says, "A baker's dozen? Sounds about right."
5. We have been lamenting the lack of talent on our roster for some time. McLovin' has his work cut out for him as he aims to steady a ship that seems to be made out of cheese. The lack of first round picks in recent seasons has taken its toll, but even if the Redskins had succeeded in hitting home runs with both of those picks, we would still be in essentially the exact same position relative to the rest of the league (again, at least according to this exercise). There is nothing about the task ahead that suggests it can be done in one season, in case you were looking for some not-so-great news. That said, Redskins fans LIVE for Year One of a new plan. We are constantly stuck on part four of Star Wars ("A New Hope"), except every time we think Luke Skywalker has arrived, it has turned out to be just another Lone Star (finally, a reason to use that cover photo) stunt double.
6. You didn't think I was going to let the opportunity pass to argue why this analysis supports grabbing a top offensive tackle at the top of the draft, did you, Justin? It can work both ways of course, but I would submit it is highly probable that roughly a third of the needed bodies in this exercise are on the offensive line (four of the thirteen required players). That, my friends, is what they call a need. We have multiple needs to be sure, but the immediate impact of a top-shelf tackle on the right side of our line shores up a unit that cost us many games over the last couple of years. Whether we trade down or not (of course trading back is my first choice, along with everyone else), the best offensive tackle available in the first round has to be in the best player available (BPA) conversation. When you marry a need like the one we have with a first round talent (assuming you make the right choice, which I assume McLovin' will), extremely good things happen for your team. I will grant you that there will be other players at other positions worthy of consideration whenever we pick, but I don't believe that we can make a bigger impact on our roster than by drafting an offensive tackle. When it comes to places where you need above average talent the most, offensive tackle--left or right (commence arguing that one!)--is right at the top of the list.