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Preseason Football 101

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; It seems sad, but it has become very apparent that a number of the members here at Black & Gold are quite inadequate at their understanding of what exactly is preseason football and what is its purpose. I am going ...

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Old 08-22-2016, 02:19 PM   #1
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Preseason Football 101

It seems sad, but it has become very apparent that a number of the members here at Black & Gold are quite inadequate at their understanding of what exactly is preseason football and what is its purpose. I am going to do my best to point out a few key points.

First, this is a football. Given the nonsensical posts referring to the Saints first two preseason games of 2016 I felt some around here may need to approach the subject at a very remedial level.



Second, this is an NFL head coach. An NFL head coach has a lifetime of in-depth NFL knowledge behind him. His responsibilities include major organizational tasks and minute decisions concerning individual players. The average fan has no idea what steps the head coach undertakes to salve these dilemmas.



Third, this is a somewhat below average fan that cannot seem to grasp the duties of a head coach.



Now we move on to the meat of this short course. What is the purpose of preseason football to the NFL head coach? The answer is it is a vehicle used to evaluate a handful of players to determine their ability to produce on the final 53 man roster and be subject to the practice squad.

Some erroneous beliefs held by the uneducated fan includes the following.

- The defensive scheme is being tested.
- The offensive scheme is being tested.
- The final roster is totally undetermined.
- The key players on both side of the ball need an opportunity to show their stuff.
- Winning the game is important.
- Moving the ball on offense at all cost is vital.
- Stopping the opponent's offense at all costs is vital.

Nope. None of these are vaguely important to the head coach at this time. In fact, the head coach will routinely run the RB with little chance of toting the ball in a real game on a play that he knows has no chance of success just to evaluate how the RB and other very possible final cuts react to the play. And if head coach hasn't seen enough he may very likely call the same doomed play again to see if any of the endangered players show any sense of improvement.

The same is true on the defensive side of the ball. The preseason is the time to try players in a variety of positions without the support of real starters, just to see how they handle the adversity.

The fact is that by the time training cap begins the head coach has a pretty good idea of around 45 players that will be making that final roster. That leaves around eighteen openings including the practice squad. These eighteen players may only play a very minor role in the overall scheme of things if the head coaches plans are successful. But, the determination has to be made.

That is the main purpose of preseason football. The average, or below average fan will not be given the opportunity to see anything resembling the eventual offense or defense. They will not see all of the eventual starters on the field at the same time on either side of the ball on either side. They will not see anything resembling what end-product the head coach and his staff produces until the regular season begins.


I'm having that feeling again.
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Old 08-22-2016, 03:54 PM   #2
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Re: Preseason Football 101

Do you watch Hard Knocks?
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Old 08-22-2016, 04:31 PM   #3
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Re: Preseason Football 101

Originally Posted by Euphoria View Post
Do you watch Hard Knocks?
No, but I have heard all of this from multiple GM's over the years. By the time mini camps are over most coaches have a very good idea who will be the starters and where they will be playing. Of course, there are exceptions, but the decisions left to be made are on the deep depth and special teams.

As for the games, games one and two are strictly evaluation of those final eight to ten. No matter what they say about wanting to win, it is the evaluation that drives the play. Then they say that game four is where they finalize the practice squad. Once again, there are exceptions, but that is pretty much the process according to ex-GM's like Gil Brandt, Bill Pollian and Charley Casserly. I'm pretty sure they know what they are talking about.
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I'm having that feeling again.
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Old 08-22-2016, 04:44 PM   #4
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Re: Preseason Football 101

I would provide you with more 'likes' if that were possible.

Great use of illustration as well.

However, I have to object to one item. Winning is actually rather important, particularly with young teams (like ours). We need to get a few wins and establish moral and motivation, creating that winning culture is important; although not as critical as some would lead on.

*Yes, I read your post above mine and do agree that the evaluation process drives the play.
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Old 08-22-2016, 04:50 PM   #5
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Re: Preseason Football 101

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Old 08-22-2016, 04:59 PM   #6
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Re: Preseason Football 101

I may be just a fan but pre-season or regular season even I know finishing with a losing record don't cut the mustard. I guess thats why there is a big turnover rate for losing coaches and GM's.
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Old 08-22-2016, 05:07 PM   #7
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Re: Preseason Football 101

Originally Posted by blackangold View Post
I would provide you with more 'likes' if that were possible.

Great use of illustration as well.

However, I have to object to one item. Winning is actually rather important, particularly with young teams (like ours). We need to get a few wins and establish moral and motivation, creating that winning culture is important; although not as critical as some would lead on.

*Yes, I read your post above mine and do agree that the evaluation process drives the play.
I do agree that even the coaches want to win, but as you said, that is not the driving force. We shouldn't forget that the Saints practiced against both of their first two "opponents" for two days prior to the game. I doubt they showed much, if anything, that hadn't already been seen.
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Old 08-22-2016, 05:17 PM   #8
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Re: Preseason Football 101

Originally Posted by halloween 65 View Post
I may be just a fan but pre-season or regular season even I know finishing with a losing record don't cut the mustard. I guess thats why there is a big turnover rate for losing coaches and GM's.
There is no equivalence between the preseason and the regular season because no preseason game counts towards the record for getting to the playoffs. Every team starts 0-0 at the first game of the regular season.

Now it's possible to see some trends in the preseason. Some I've seen this preseason:

1. The defense that will hit the field in September is improved from the last two years. Better rush, better coverage, less penalties, better communication, less mental errors.

2. Most of the starting offensive skill players are showing promise.

3. The O-line needs work. There have been not so good plays from starters such as Peat, Strief, and Lelito. Also there have been some blitz pickup issues with Spiller.

4. The team has been sloppy with the ball from 1st team to 4th team. Too many turnovers. Period. This more than anything else is worrysome.

So what I'd really like to see is 3 and 4 cleaned up in the first half of the next game. If Brees comes out of the half clean and there are no turnovers, then things will be looking up in terms of the regular season.

SFIAH
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Old 08-22-2016, 05:22 PM   #9
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Re: Preseason Football 101

All that being said: coaches can evaluate trash till the cows come home, it's still trash.

You're right, it IS about evaluation, but you can't evaluate the cement off Peats ankles, or evaluate yourself into bigger holes in the run game, or evaluate yourself into a reliable kicker, or evaluate the turnovers to go away.

They either exist on your roster, or they do not. If coaching knowledge played the game, I'm sure we'd have more rings than fingers. But call a spade a spade, when one exists.

You don't think the patriots or texans are doing the same thing?? Why can't our base talent beat their base talent, if that were the case? If their talent whips your talent with no schemes, just imagine WITH. You have to admit, there's valid comcerns. ESPECIALLY when a head coach acknowledges that he wants to win these games.

Just 2 cents from a mentally challenged fan. I don't really have much grasp of all the complex and nuanced data that you and all the NFL coaches and staff do.
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Old 08-22-2016, 05:50 PM   #10
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Re: Preseason Football 101

Everyone says preseason doesn't mean anything. Every year you have teams that look great in preseason and when it comes time to play for real their fans find out that they got all hyped for nothing. Their team stinks. The same is not true for teams who look like crap in preseason. If your team looks like crap in preseason it will probably suck in the regular season. I'm not talking about preseason wins, I'm talking about how they look. Shoddy offensive line play and turnovers will definitely carry into the regular season. Looking flat and vanilla on the other hand won't.
We look like the kind of bad that will carry into the regular season. Our offense does anyway.

There were threads labeled "it's just preseason" each of the last two years and we know how that turned out.
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