“Stats are for losers, the final scores are for winners,” was a statement made by Coach Belichick in 2009 to reiterate the fact that the team’s efforts contribute to wins, not just one player. That is how every player’s mindset should be when playing the game of football, not only because it is the truth but because it will set your team up for long term success. Furthermore, it is harder to game plan against a team that can win any which way, this is the Patriots way.
Despite having to keep the concept of team into perspective, you have to actually make the team first before you can take on this mentality; it’s every man for themselves until then. This preseason, the Patriots won their first game versus the Jaguars 47-12, this past Thursday the Patriots won their second straight preseason game against the Buccaneers 31-14, making the average margin of victory against their opponents set at 26 points! I know it’s just preseason, but preseason is important. People down play the significance of preseason because the wins don’t mean as much but it’s not about winning it’s about making the right evaluations of players to shape your 54 man roster. This is in fact exciting. Players who haven’t made a name for themselves are battling against other players who too haven’t made a name for themselves yet, or are trying to maintain the one that they’ve already created. It was hard enough to evaluate new players and rookies in the past before opening kickoff in September and now it has gotten even tougher with this past year’s lockout.
Trying out for a team whom already has depth at that certain position you are trying out for can also be tough to deal with as a young player or newcomer. Now these players have to deal with the lingering effects of the lockout to make a lasting impression. In the past the deadline to make final roster cuts was August 30th, now the date has changed to September 3rd. This still doesn’t give new athletes a lot of time! Hopefully coaches will give these players more time on the field for the last two preseason games, giving those individuals a fair chance. I know you want to make sure your starters are warm going into the season opener but certain veteran teams like the Patriots have the luxury to let younger players play for longer because the first team guys are (for the most part) on the same page with one another and they should have no problem starting their season off on the right foot compared to other teams. Whatever can give these players a chance to make the team has to be done. The Patriots face off against the Lions in their third preseason game this Saturday and then take on the Giants in their fourth and final preseason game before the season starts. These next few weeks will be a precious time to get these evaluations right, so to all you coaches out there worried about how your team is going to fair this season think about how worried these players are out there trying to make the team under such difficult circumstances, give them more reps. And to all of those still fighting for a roster spot, fight for each rep and make them all count!