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NFL Unfiltered 2013: How Important IS Preseason Football?

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Finally, the National Football League’s annual fan fleecing (also known as the exhibition season) is over.  But before the regular season begins, let us take a moment to remember an important truth: the pre-season has little impact on regular season performance.  Not to mention, it is terrible football.  

 

However, as bad as it is, there are worst ways to spend three hours. Unfortunately, it is not a good way to determine the success or failure of a pro football team.  

 

Still, it happens every summer.  Fans are so hungry for anything NFL they ignore common sense and replace it with media hyperbole. For example, they know their favorite squad needed help in the secondary and they know it is still an issue.  Nevertheless, once a football insider from the NFL Network starts dissecting a play made by a rookie free-agent corner, they become zombies.  They often ignore the fact that play came against a receiver who did not start his senior year and is seventh on the other team’s depth chart.  

 

So how does a fan get a sense of his favorite team’s regular season chances without focusing too much on preseason games?  Simple, take an analytical view of the prior season as well as every decision your team made until the beginning of training camp.    

 

Did your team address an obvious weakness?  Is there a new draft pick or two certain to start, or at least make an immediate impact?  If it is a first year head coach, does he have the type of players he needs to run his offense and defense?  All these questions are easy for fans to answer without wasting too much time watching future security guards and bouncers play professional football.

 

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The point here is not to suggest we all stop watching them block and tackle in August. Overall, it is still more interesting than nearly any other television, including the exploitation of Honey Boo Boo.  In addition, you may learn the roles of those fringe players should a starter sustain an injury.  

 

Yet, we must resist the urge to take the NFL’s media business partners too seriously, as they scrutinize meaningless games played mainly by non-professionals.

 

The relevance of preseason football is certainly in the eye of the beholder but beyond injuries, it has no bearing on regular season outcomes.

 

It never has and it never will.

 

 

 THINGS THE PUNDITS COULDN’T OR WOULDN’T SAY: PRESEASON

 

-The idea that Nick Foles had a legitimate chance to win the starting job in Chip Kelly’s offense is absurd.  Rather than talking about the Eagles’ woeful defense—and the front office’s efforts to fix it—Philly’s media wasted a lot of the summer reporting on a bogus competition.  When has a player with Foles’ skill set ever succeeded in Kelly’s offense?    Photo: cbssports.com

 

-Philadelphia’s old pal Andy Reid is kidding himself if he thinks Alex Smith will flourish in an offense that demands the quarterback attempt 35+ passes each game.

 

Speaking of Smith, his pre-snap actions mean one of two things:  Reid has changed his offense or neither Donovan McNabb nor Michael Vick was smart enough to run it.  Still, both McNabb and Vick was/is a better quarterback than Smith is.

 

-Only twice in Nick Saban’s six years as a NFL head coach or defensive coordinator has his team ranked in the top 10 in both points against and yards allowed in the same season. Conversely, Rex Ryan’s teams have done it five times in eight years.  What does that mean?  It means Saban belongs in college and Ryan is an outstanding…defensive coordinator.  

 

As for the other Ryan (Rob, defensive coordinator for the Saints), his results are so below average it’s remarkable how easily he steals paychecks.        

 

-Adrian Peterson’s bold challenge to those who believe his performance last season came as a result of PED’s is one year too late.  

 

-Lost in the rush to demonize Texans’ rookie safety D.J. Swearinger for his knee shot on Dustin Keller is the fact that Ryan Tannehill is woefully inaccurate. Tannehill should offer to pay Keller’s salary for a year. Can the NFL legislate against bad quarterback play as well as helmet-to-helmet collisions?  

 

-Before anointing the Seattle Seahawks the Lombardi Trophy, remember they were 4-6 on the road last year (including the playoffs).  They need home field advantage more than any other team except the Falcons, and it is not even close.  

 

-Russell Wilson has a chance to have a good career, but because he needs to compensate for his size by running around, the Seahawks will always struggle to protect him.

 

-The number of experts who think Peyton Manning is enough to overcome the Broncos’ loss of last season’s two best pass rushers amazes me.  

 

-The Packers and Falcons are making a mistake if they think talent at tailback is the main reason they struggled to run the ball effectively last year.  

 

-A typical regular season full of inconsistent play from Eli Manning and Joe Flacco won’t get it done in 2013.  Both need to play well every single week or the Giants and Ravens will miss the playoffs. Flacco photo: www.ravensmania.com

 

-The following teams need new quarterbacks but don’t know it yet, Texans, Bears, Vikings, Chiefs and Lions.  Unfortunately for their fans, the Bears and Lions won’t realize it next year either.  

 

-Mike Tomlin's in-game decisions, Todd Haley’s people skills and Ben Roethlisberger’s usual 13 ½ game season adds up to 9-7 for the Steelers, unless Jarvis Jones plays like Lawrence Taylor.    

 

-It is no surprise Tom Brady spent a portion of the exhibition season on his backside.  The Patriots have not drafted an offensive lineman since the fifth round of the 2011 draft.  This is inexcusable and is another example of how good quarterback play makes front offices arrogant and lazy.  Of course, it’s easy to ignore this kind of negligence when you’re too busy lauding Bill Belichick for his infinite genius.    

 

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area.  He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention.  His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

 

Contact Earl at emyersiii@gmail.com  

 

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Eagles photo: cbssports.com

 

Flacco photo: www.ravensmania.com

 

Thumbnail: AP