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Clearing the Deck

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Clearing the deck more popular than ever By Pat Kirwan NFL.com Senior Analyst (May 31, 2004) -- Every NFL coach over 40 years of age has had to adjust the way he motivates his players, and more importantly, how he ...

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Old 06-10-2004, 03:26 PM   #1
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Clearing the Deck

Clearing the deck more popular than ever

By Pat Kirwan
NFL.com Senior Analyst

(May 31, 2004) -- Every NFL coach over 40 years of age has had to adjust the way he motivates his players, and more importantly, how he evaluates his players.

In the NFL before the Collective Bargaining Agreement, all veterans spent the month of August competing head to head with the new rookies for their starting jobs. Coaches would watch two practice tapes a day and four or five preseason game tapes to draw a conclusion. That seems logical and enough information to make a decision about who was the best player to help the team win in that particular season.

Things are much different these days because roster decisions more and more are made in the offseason, not in pads, and now more than ever, not head to head. Over the past few years, teams are "clearing the deck" before a competitive situation can exist. There is a trend afoot that challenges how coaches coach

Get the rest here: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/7377865
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I thought two things were of interest in this story:
(1) What do you guys think about this tactic (clearing the deck) for dealing with players? Do you think players are really all such babies that they can't handle the competition with another skilled player? It does make you wonder about coaches' abilities to really deal with the attitude of players these days - perhaps it sheds some light on the "cancers" that seem to develop on teams (i.e. players are just such giant babies that when things don't go there way, THEY become a problem). It looks like lots of coaches are opting to avoid those kind of problems to the detriment of the team (fewer good competitions for startings spots, fewer respected vetrans, and so on). I was just wondering if any of you had thoughts on this trend.

(2) Perhaps this says something good for our own coaching staff. They did not immediately dump one of Howard or Grant the second they got Smith. They are not getting rid of vetrans like Pathon and Horn to make room for Stallworth (and thank goodness too). Our team may have more wide open competitions for starting spots than many others: TE, WR, MLB, OLB and DE. I believe that is both a good sign and something our coaching staff has done well this season.

Thoughts?
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Old 06-10-2004, 06:04 PM   #2
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Clearing the Deck

Our team may have more wide open competitions for starting spots than many others: TE, WR, MLB, OLB and DE.
I think you can throw CB, FB, and OT in the mix as well, and I agree, open competition is good for the team. I don\'t care if a player has a multi-million dollar contract, if he\'s getting outplayed by a rookie, he should sit his millionaire ass on the bench.
And I know that Howard was signed to a one year contract. I know that Loomis said something to the effect of they do not want to lose Howard next year either. But there\'s this voice in the back of my head telling me that if Will Smith plays up to snuff, this might be his last year in Black and Gold. I\'d be happy if I was wrong, but only time will tell.

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Old 06-10-2004, 07:11 PM   #3
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Clearing the Deck

well you can\'t just generally come to a conclusion like that... I think its by a case by case basis and some rookies need good people/vets to learn from and set the standard. Turley was one that was gone due to his attitude and problems. Pathon isn\'t a problem, Horn has been outspoken but I also think he does respects the coaching staff and thankful we gave him a career in stead of 3rd string for life.
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Old 06-10-2004, 07:46 PM   #4
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Clearing the Deck

Euphoria, I think we may have misunderstood each other on this one.

You were referring to my point (2), I suppose? I was merely suggesting this: our coaching staff has demonstrated a good quality (namely not \"clearing the deck\" for newbies) by keeping vetrans even when their replacement seems to have been found (e.g. keeping Pathon and Horn in light of Stallworth - which was merely an example).

If that was not the point to which you were referring, here is another thought: I am actually of the view that \"clearing the deck\" is a poor strategy. I think BnB agrees - he suggests that competition is always good for the team (perhaps despite whether it is good for the player, coach, or player-coach interaction).

I was also suggesting that \"clearing the deck\" strategies may avoid \"cancers\" in the locker room, but at what cost? The cost of a vetran to help teach the rookies, a good competition for the starting spots, and a chance for players to \"grow up\" (you don\'t always get your way in the NFL - sometimes the guy who is already there is better than you!). Thus, I think that in the short run \"clearing the deck\" may cover up \"locker room cancers\" (by getting rid of them before the new kid gets there), but it leads to future \"locker room cancers\" when the former new kid has to compete for his job with the new new kid.

"... I was beating them with my eyes the whole game..." - Aaron Brooks :cool:
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Old 06-11-2004, 02:14 PM   #5
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I\'m a little bit confused, we\'re talking about Jim Haslett and saying that he has not \"cleared the deck\"?????????? Did I miss something? Are we saying that THIS offseason he has mainly stuck with the players we\'ve got... b/c otherwise I\'m a bit confused. Three years after taking the reigns only 2 players from the Ditka regime remained on the team. If that\'s not \"cleaning house\" or whatever you want to call it, I don\'t know what is.
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Old 06-11-2004, 02:28 PM   #6
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Clearing the Deck

PS - just so we\'re clear on this:

I was merely suggesting this: our coaching staff has demonstrated a good quality (namely not \"clearing the deck\" for newbies) by keeping vetrans even when their replacement seems to have been found.
I\'m mostly responding to this. I\'m not sure what you mean by \"newbies\" but...

if you mean rookies, here are the rookie starters (or first time starters) since Haslett arrived:
Mel Mitchell (this season)
Hodge
Allen
Ruff
Sullivan
Grant
Howard
Stallworth
Deuce
Brooks
Bentley
Boo Williams
Horn
Watson (this year maybe)
Cie Grant (this year maybe)
Clemons


That\'s off the top of my head - those are guys who were either rookie starters, young first time starters, or guys who were career backups who came here and started.

If we\'re talking about \'newbies\' as simply players who are new to the team, here are people that came from other teams and are now starting here:

Tebucky Jones
Derrick Rodgers
Norman Hand
Grady Jackson
Young (this year)
Ambrose
Carter
Thomas
Gandy
Riley
Folau
Boo Williams
Conwell
Sloan
Gash (maybe)
Bellamy


Point is, sure seems to me that Haslett has changed the starting lineup around a lot since he\'s got here - whether that\'s with veterans NEW to the team, or NEW NFL players... just b/c he didn\'t do it this year... well, is it the realization of an important concept that will make him successful, or merely another stab at a new and different strategy - his fourth in as many years??? Time will tell.

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he said.[i]\"You know you should stop, but you just can\'t.\"
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Old 06-11-2004, 02:35 PM   #7
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Clearing the Deck

I think the term Locker Room Cancer is being used and applied way too often to players that Haslett feels need to be replaced. The term has been used frequently by the press and the press alone. Now every time we jetison a player everyone harps on him being the next \"cancerous\" player we ran off. I don\'t remember Jim ever referring to a player as a locker room cancer.
Maybe the player just isn\'t as good as we want at that position.

I also think players learn about 10% from watching the veteran starter, and 90% from their position coach. Watson won\'t learn nearly as much from watching Darrin Smith as he will listening to Moss and watching film.

OK Moss was probably a bad example but you get my point.


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Old 06-11-2004, 09:41 PM   #8
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I don\'t think cleaning house when a new coaching staff comes in counts. We were awful in the talent department when Haslett took over, if nothing else at least we are somewhat competitive, but I hope many agree we have a house full of talent these days. I also think this whole discussion is getting mixed up and losing its point.
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Old 06-12-2004, 05:51 PM   #9
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Clearing the Deck

WhoDat,

I was only referring to THIS offseason, though your point is taken. Thus, I meant this: this year we did the right thing by keeping players, putting them head to head, and not merely clearing out incumbents so that whoever is new could play.

By \"newbie\" I just meant the guy brought in to play a given position who was not on the team the year before.

\"Clearing the deck\" refers to getting rid of a starter so that the newbie (see above) won\'t feel challenged when he gets here (because that could break his fragile ego apparantly).

So, I don\'t disagree with you overall; I was merely pointing out something that we appear to be doing right THIS year. I agree that I wasn\'t very clear about that.

"... I was beating them with my eyes the whole game..." - Aaron Brooks :cool:
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Old 06-12-2004, 05:56 PM   #10
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Clearing the Deck

Danno,

Good to hear from you. Also, two good points.

(1) I agree that \"locker room cancer\" is over used. However, my point was this: sometimes we have guys who just don\'t seem to get along. I was offering an explanation to compete with the \"its coach\'s fault\" explanation. If it is true that these days guys are getting babied to the point they don\'t even have to compete for their job, it is no wonder that sooner or later they get cheezed and make a mess. Some teams avoid this problem, by clearing the deck for the new kid (or vetran); however, I argue this comes at a cost to training camp - fewer good competitions for starting spots.

(2) I don\'t know what I think about the vetran to new guy vs. coach to new guy value. I\'m willing to say that perhaps I overvalued it earlier. However, I think we\'ll agree that the problem comes when the vetrans aren\'t kept around to compete for the jobs - the new guys feels less need to perform, the old guys who are good are cleared out for some unproven rookie, and so on. Thus, clearing the deck is bad even if the new kids don\'t need to learn from the geezers. Right?

"... I was beating them with my eyes the whole game..." - Aaron Brooks :cool:
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