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2009 season illustrates spending doesn't always mean winning

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Dec 19, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    By Jason La Canfora | NFL Network
    12 17 2009


    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- This has been the season of the haves and have-nots in many ways. With two unbeaten teams chasing history, and seven teams with four or fewer wins, obviously a vast chasm exists between the very best and very worst, perhaps deeper than ever before.
    Less documented has been the rise of the small-market team. In a year in which the New York Giants have been erratic, the New England Patriots have looked shockingly ordinary and the Pittsburgh Steelers have completely fallen apart, the NFL's version of small or mid-major teams have found a way to thrive.
    There has been something of a changing of the guard going on in 2009. We all know what the Saints have accomplished. The San Diego Chargers, who also play in an outdated facility with limited revenue streams, are the hottest club in the NFL besides New Orleans and Indianapolis. Arizona took a step back on Monday night, but the Cardinals are headed to another division title and perhaps another long playoff run. Minnesota, a team that could end up in Los Angeles in a few years if it does not get a new stadium, is making a push for a first-round bye. The Bengals went undefeated in their AFC North slate, and could advance in the playoffs.



    That's not exactly marquee markets or marquee teams. Once again, in many ways, parity is the rule and the NFL is the great equalizer. Those clubs just mentioned won't be found in the list of the highest-spending teams this decade, and many of them are among the organizations that will receive additional revenue sharing based on their more antiquated stadiums.
    For years, the owners of the Cardinals (the Bidwills) and the Bengals (the Brown family) were lumped in with perennial losers, but both franchises are enjoying a renaissance. Many have wondered if the Chargers would be heading back to LA, their old AFL home, for years. Of the group, only the Cardinals have a top-notch stadium.
    What they all do have in common is a star quarterback. No position is more important, and these clubs have it covered. The teams are also evidence of a growing trend where the passer and the overall skill players on offense compensate for a pedestrian offensive line. Save for the Vikings, none of those clubs have sunk an inordinate amount of resources into the line, but all are receiving solid production.
    The Bengals, for instance, went into the season fretting about the loss of Stacy Andrews and the inability of first-round pick Andre Smith to get on the field. The Saints lost their starting left tackle early in the season, the Chargers have played virtually all year without their starting center, and the Cardinals have let guys like Leonard Davis leave for monster contracts elsewhere.
    Make no mistake, the league's heaviest spenders, like the Colts, remain right there. But you can't simply buy a top football team -- ask the Redskins and Cowboys -- and 2009 is more evidence of as much.
     

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