Know How To Watch The Preseason Through A Proper Lens With These Things To Remember
The Lions are finally ready to get their preseason kicked off against the Raiders. It’s an exciting time of the year. Everyone is itching to see what new head coach Matt Patricia has in store for the team as well as how some of the new faces in Allen Park will fit into the depth chart. I know I’ll be watching. I expect if you’ve clicked this article then you’ll be watching as well so here are just a handful of things to remember while you’re tuned in to the exhibition games coming up around the league this month.
6 Things To Remember
Stats Don’t Tell The Story
This is true in most NFL games. Stats can be misleading. It’s more important to keep in mind in preseason games, however. During the preseason guys don’t get as many snaps of course. Checking the box score after the game can be a trap. Instead, trust your eyes. If a running back has three carries for 11 yards it doesn’t sound impressive by the numbers. But if he broke two tackles and made a defender miss in the backfield to avoid a loss it’s a better night than the yards would indicate. This type of example can be applied to most positions. The eye test is tried and true.
There Are Mismatches All Over The Field
It’s no secret that there are several players who skip the preseason games with even the slightest bumps and bruises. This creates mismatches along the depth chart. It’s important to keep in mind who is lined up against the player being evaluated. Sure, it’s great if wide receiver Marvin Jones takes a deep post route to the house from 50 yards out. On the other hand, if he was lined up against the Raiders #4 cornerback it suddenly becomes less glorious. This works both ways though. If a player that would normally be on the bench can win some battles against opposing starters that’s worth noticing as well.
It’s Hard To Judge Units
I often hear ballpark statements after preseason games such as “the Lions defense looked great” or “the offensive line had issues”. I can’t stress enough that individual examination is much more accurate than trying to examine team units. For one, there are usually going to be some missing pieces on the field. The offensive line may be missing two starters or perhaps the defensive line they’re matched up with is missing a couple themselves. This doubles when talking about a larger group like the offense or defense as a whole. Until there is a starting offense against a starting defense in a meaningful situation it’s simply impossible to judge the units as a whole. Another point here is that the coaches are not unleashing much in these games. It’s not hard for an offensive line to protect well against a defense that isn’t stunting much or showing any complex blitzes. This leads me to the next point…
Quarterbacks Shine In The Preseason
It happens every year. Look around the league at the stat lines of quarterbacks through the next few weeks. Typically, most QBs end up with very nice numbers. Ignoring this fact is what leads fans to believe every backup has potential. Rookie quarterbacks, in particular, seem to garner far more praise than deserved. The truth is the backup and third-string QBs are out there facing vanilla coverages and often play against defenders who aren’t going to make a roster by the time the regular season starts. Think back to when Mitch Trubisky looked good last year. Things changed quickly when the games went live. Instead of ‘ooohing’ and ‘ahhhing’ over a nice stat line, expect the quarterbacks to look decent; if they don’t there’s a real problem.
Enjoy The Diamond In The Rough, But Don’t Fall In Love
Tion Green, Dwayne Washington, Andrew Peacock. What do these names bring to mind? Great preseasons. These are just a few recent examples of Lions that have lit the preseason on fire only to sputter out with meaningful games on the line. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see an unknown name or late draft pick stand out in the preseason. But it has to be taken with a grain of salt. As mentioned earlier, these depth players are out there against other depth players, in some cases players who won’t make the team. Showing off and looking good is a nice sign that they may have what it takes. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t automatically translate to the big time.
The Results Are Irrelevant
Winning or losing in the preseason just doesn’t mean anything. It’s nice to win but ultimately it tells very little about the actual team. This goes for shortcuts such as ‘we were winning at halftime’ or ‘our starting offense scored on each possession’ as well. The play calls are bland and neither team is pulling out all the stops. The coaches aren’t focused on winning the game. They’re evaluating players and running situational football litmus tests. So yes, be happy with a win. Just don’t let it cloud the rest of what happened in the game.
Enjoy the preseason. It’s finally time. Football is right on the doorstep. Pay attention to these key things to remember and go Lions.
You can find me on Twitter @MrEasyStreet or on the Detroit Lions subreddit.