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There is nothing we can do about it …
I know I’m supposed to stay neutral, and report without emotion, but this time of year would get me pissed off in the past.
Talking about the final cuts in training camp.
Teams often say, “We will keep the best plays,” but it’s not often true.
And I want to make it clear, this post isn’t Jets-centric. This applies to most of the league.
The Jets had a preseason game on Saturday against the New York Football Giants.
A wide receiver named Alex Erickson caught two touchdown passes. His performance isn’t an aberration. He stood out in camp. He played well for other teams also, like Cincinnati.
On Monday, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network announced the Jets had released Erickson, one of their first cuts.
Let’s be blunt – there was nothing he could do to make this team. Nothing! Well, actually if there had been a ton of injuries at receiver, but other than that, nothing.
I want to reiterate. This post isn’t about the Jets. It’s a league-wide thing.
With most teams, the majority of roster decisions, perhaps 95 percent of the roster decisions regarding the final roster composition, are made before training camp even starts.
So there is a lot of confirmation bias at work and self-fulfilling prophecies.
I will never forget when Rex Ryan once said before a season about what a good draft the team had because every player made the team.
Rex is a good guy and he meant well, but I’m thinking, “Dude, they all made it because you and the GM kept them all.”
Here is the thinking in most of these buildings with draft picks:
Even if they have a crappy camp in the first year or two, the decision-makers will keep them because they feel, “They have a big upside.”
So even though you aren’t seeing it, it will likely happen eventually. They will tell you, “That draft pick has more potential.”
So even if a long shot clearly beats out a draft pick, the draft pick is likely staying around, and the long shot will get cut or moved to the practice squad.
In other words, certain guys aren’t allowed to beat out other guys.
Do you think that Tim Boyle had any chance at all at beating out Zach Wilson for the #2 job?
Of course not.
Do you think Greg Senat had any chance of beating out Max Mitchell?
Of course not.
Do you think Pita Taumoepenu, who flashed throughout the summer, is going to beat out Michael Clemons, who was lumbering due to added weight?
Of course not.
Now, the good thing is the practice squads were expanded to 16 a couple of years ago, so some guys who might have gotten raw deals in position battles, can still get jobs with teams.
The only place that seems to truly eschew confirmation bias is New England, but it’s hard to praise Bill Belichick too much for his personnel decisions over the last few years, which have been far from stellar.
But this quote makes total sense to me, from a former New England executive.
“When Belichick stands in front of the team and says “”ook, the only players who are going to play here are the best players. So if we drafted you in the first round, or you were an undrafted college free agent, who’s ever the best player is playing. He says that to the team, he’s got to believe that and act that way. Most teams when we drafted you in the first round, we don’t care if the other guy is better than you, we are going to keep you.” – Mike Lombardi.
Look, I know I’m living in Never-Never Land, thinking that the scenario Lombardi described in New England is going to go on in most other places.
And Joe Douglas might be the best GM the Jets ever had, so don’t view this as a shot at him.
And I don’t get angry at the confirmation bias anymore. It is what it is.
But just pointing out that when most teams tell you they are going to keep the best 53, take it with a grain of salt.
August 29, 2023
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