Le Cordon Bleu or Grandma's Home Cooking?

"If you want to make an omelet, then pre-cracked eggs work just fine." - Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

A guide to understanding Bill Belichick's team building.

If you ever had a chance to experience a top flight meal made with only the freshest ingredients with zero compromise and elegant appeal, then you'll know that every other meal you eat to sustain yourself may pale in comparison.  To get the best, you have to pay for the best.  Unfortunately, most of us are not on a caviar budget, including Bill Belichick and the Patriots.  Also, very likely, your Grandmother.

You might think all things are equal in the NFL, and Mr. Goodell would like you to believe that.  Each team has the same salary cap.  Each team gets one pick from each round.  Parity, parity, parity.  Unlike in the real world where the richest eat first and eat best, the teams in the NFL that perform worst are allowed first access to the NFL draft banquet table.  Parity, parity, parity.  Pull the worst up, keep the middle in the middle, and pull the top teams down.  That's the goal of the NFL draft.

Ignoring compensatory picks (another attempt to level the playing field) it's one pick per team per round, right?  Sort of.  Each pick has a draft value based on a draft value table.  Here's one at Walter Football, for reference.  Nothing special about their chart.  They assign a value to each pick for the purposes of trading picks up or down the draft board.

The Houston Texans picked first this year.  Their first round pick was worth 3000 points according to the chart.  The Patriots alternated between the 29th and 30th places in each round.  Assuming they started with all seven picks, the total of all seven of their draft picks on the chart was 1145 points.  That's only 38% of the Texans 1st pick.  One stinking pick.

In total the Texans had 4041.2 draft points to spend this year.  350% more than the Patriots.  While the Texans were sitting down to seven course meal, the Patriots had to stop by Grandma's house.  See Grandma really knows how to stretch the food budget.

She doesn't shop at the all organic aisle or import her food from hard to pronounce places.  She may find an economical farmer's market (ask Alec Shane how he feels about those) or home grow her own tomatoes, and each meal may contain up to 80% of leftovers from previous meals.  Nothing is thrown away at Grandma's house.

She will, however, throw together a tasty meal that can compete with anything those Cordon Bleu chefs can toss out there, and for a fraction of the price.  Maybe even less than 28% (the Patriots shopping budget compared to the Texans).  She can toss together whatever she can find in the fridge at a moments notice and make it palatable.  Something went bad?  No problem.  Plenty of leftovers in the fridge.  Next food up, she always says.  Editors note:  real grandmothers NEVER say that.

Bill Belichick is like your Grandmother.  He knows how to put a team together on a budget.  When everyone spends top dollar for 4-3 DTs and DEs, he shops at 3-4 NT and DE aisle.  The price is always lower when the demand isn't as high.  I think his Grandma taught him that.  Oh, people see the success of the 3-4, and start stripping the shelves in that aisle?  No problem, people have won for years with a 4-3 alignment, and the prices are suddenly reasonable.  He is on a budget after all.

The spread shows the NFL what a dynamic offense can do, and all of the sudden outside receivers are at a premium.  Too steep for Granny Belichick, he'll go back to a recipe he had at the Lions for a multiple tight end offense.  He's sure he has that recipe around somewhere.  If not, he knows how to improvise.  Oops one of his tight ends went bad, and the other isn't big enough to feed a 16 game season?  Oh well, receiver prices drop when people are shopping the tight end aisle, he'll grab a few of those and see how things go.

Bruised fruit is still tasty.  Day old bread can still taste good.  That meat isn't old, it's well aged.  Granny knows how to take the bad or questionable and turn it into something great.

Unlike the chefs at Le Cordon Bleu that only know one way to make a meal using nothing but premium ingredients, Granny Belichick knows there's more than one way to skin a potato (or is it potahto?).  Of course, the meal he cooks today might not taste the same as the one he cooked last season.  When you're picking from the bargain shelf, you take what you get.  It will however taste great and there's no way you can beat the price.

I've learned over the years to never have any preconceived notions when eating at Granny's house.  I just take each meal as it comes.  Let's just see what Granny has cooking for us this year.  I bet it will be great.

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