DALLAS TX - FEBRUARY 5: Pro Football Hall of Famers Michael Irvin and Rod Woodson share a laugh on the NFL Network set prior to the announcement of the 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame class at the Super Bowl XLV media center on February 5 2011 in Dallas Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Here I am, picking last in a draft order that does not snake or switch up in any way. I'm going to be at a slight disadvantage, but there's only three of us and plenty of talent to go around. Regardless of where I am in the draft order, the guiding questions remain the same:
What are my needs? And in what order should I move to address them?
Let's start with what I know about the game: I loved me some flag football in college. I never won a championship myself, but am still proud of only ever losing in the playoffs to teams that went on to win the championship.
I remember the the School of Education's team very well, they'd been champs for I don't even know how many years running, and my roommate Joe knew all of them (he was an Elementary Ed major). Joe was actually old friends with their QB Mike - they're from the same town in New York and when Joe and I were little bitty freshmen, Mike was willing to take our money and give us a place to drink on the weekends. Mike actually just got married last weekend (congratulations to the happy couple!) and Joe DJ'ed the shindig.
Mike and his team were a well-oiled machine. In the final game of my intramural flag football career (Mike was still around as a grad student at this point), we could not stop them on a single drive. Mike had a cannon of an arm and he could run - actually took one to the house himself the one time our coverage was good enough to take away all of his reads (at least I'd like to think we were able to take away all of his targets on one lone occasion, even if he still burned us for a TD on the play). My band of misfits and morons was still in it at halftime (we'd only failed to score on one drive), but the bottom fell out when they made the adjustments they needed to lock down our offense in the second half, and we were just not a skilled or cohesive enough unit to stand up to the depth and execution of their playbook. We actually ended up getting mercy ruled with just a few minutes left in the game and while I'm not proud of it, I'm not ashamed of it either. They were not sandlot improvising out there - had some nasty bootleg options, in particular - and did a fantastic job of calling plays that built off of each other and ensured that our pants stayed down around our ankles.
So what did I learn from my experiences?
1). Offense is the easy part
It's easier to practice, so if you've got a guy that can throw the ball, you will score (maybe not every drive, but you will score). And if you've got a guy that can throw on the run, you will make kids look super silly.
2). Defense is the very hard part
You cannot expect to pitch a shut out in flag football if the other team has a legitimate QB. But if you can recognize what their preferences and tendencies are, communicate with your teammates about it, and work together to lock it down - even if it's just for one drive - that's often good enough to get you the win.
Cool. So now what?
Big Ben is the clear-cut best signal caller for the job, and he will put up points no matter what combination of seven guys I have on the field. With Ben off the board and since no other QB in Steelers history has quite the same skill set, I need to start building the smartest and most adaptable defense that I can. Troy is a natural choice for building on that side of the ball - a fast DB with an uncanny ability to read and react - but Tony snapped him up with the 2nd overall pick.
No worries though, because I can still start with a guy that absolutely excelled at patrolling the secondary and frustrating QBs. I'm thinking of the first player in league history to make the Pro Bowl as a cornerback, safety and kick returner. He proved to be no less than a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2009, and is undoubtedly on the shortlist for best of all time.