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The NFL Preseason Isn’t About Wins And Losses

Golden Tate break free for a big play versus the New York Jets in their preseason opener. (photo courtesy of Rick Osentoski/AP)

Golden Tate break free for a big play versus the New York Jets in their preseason opener. (photo courtesy of Rick Osentoski/AP)

The NFL football season is upon us and once again fans are excited about their teams. The level of expectations are up for some while others are just hoping for some level of improvement with their teams. And with that, the preseason has begun and many are looking into what their teams are doing. There are some teams that have looked good so far. And there are a few that have had moments they would like to forget. But with that, the score always gets broadcasts across the sports world. There are some fans that look into these scores and get wrapped up in their team winning the game. And there are also some fans that get excited about the win their team had. But unfortunately for them, those fans may be looking at the wrong thing when it comes to preseason. Preseason wins and losses mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. For example, remember the 2008 Detroit Lions? The Lions went undefeated in the preseason and expectations were up for them. But the preseason was the only thing that was exciting about that season for Detroit. The Lions would go 0-16 that season and become one of the worst football teams in NFL history. The preseason is really about two things and they have nothing to do with the win-loss record of the team.

They say practice makes perfect. Through the preseason, there are a ton of players all trying to make the 53-man roster for their prospective team. And although the practices are there for coaches and general managers to evaluate players, the best way for them to evaluate them are the preseason games. When a player is in practice, they are going against players they know pretty well from the familiarity of practice. But when put in a game situation where the opponent is not well-known, that is when you find out the most about players. At that time, the fringe players and those that are trying to lock down a position in an open competition show how much they have learned and how they react when it comes to game situations and pressures. At that point, it gives the teams a better picture of if that player could add to their team or not. Of course some of the players teams are looking at may not play as much because they are evaluating everyone there. But in those moments, players must take advantage of the opportunity or potentially watch their dreams fall by the wayside. That one player that makes the best impression makes the team and that one player could make a difference on the team that makes or misses the playoffs potentially.

The evaluation period does not just extend to players that are on the edge of making a team though. The most constant thing in any sport is change. Coaches are hired and fired all the time in the NFL. And when that happens, systems change. With that, players have to acclimate themselves to new systems. The reps are needed to help make that happen. Players get reps in practice and that helps things, but the real reps happen in live game action. Most times, coaches can control the practice action. But in game action, that element of control is gone away. Coaches get to see what all their players have learned from their new systems they have installed. They also will get to see what their team does best and what they need work on in their new systems. The coaches may win or lose the games, but the reps are the most important things that happen. And from the reps, the coaches can take the good and bad and examine it in film. From that film study and coaches watching live game-action, the coach now knows what the team needs to do to get better and what adjustments he needs to make before the real games start. There will be some adjustments coaches will have to make during the season, but these games help give reps while allowing coaches to make adjustments for their players to succeed. And that will help better the team in the long run the coaches hope.

The preseason is only a precursor to the regular season. And at that point, everything counts. The wins and losses will pile up for teams and the fan angst or joy will follow. But in the preseason, that angst needs to relax. The only things that fans may want to get angry about is the injuries in the preseason, but injuries happen and cannot always be avoided unfortunately. The preseason is about getting better and not wins. So save the passion and battle cries for the regular season, where they really count.

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3 thoughts on “The NFL Preseason Isn’t About Wins And Losses

  1. Lee Love on said:

    I enjoyed the article…good write up.

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