With the NFL season opening games just around the corner, we have hit the first tell tale sign of a new season: Training camp. With this comes multiple familiar items: players turning up in the most creative way possible, season ending injuries deflating fan’ expectations, a new season of Hard Knocks and of course, the countless rumours about player performances and squad pecking orders. But how accurate are these reports?
First let’s look at head coach comments made to the media. These can be tricky to work out if they are honest or not. Some coaches like to spread rumours, over exaggerate player’s ability, pointing towards the likelihood that they’ll start only to cut them before the preseason is over. Other coaches like to sprinkle in some exaggerations in with the truth which makes it difficult to extract the lies. Really I am yet to find a coach that will tell the media 100% of the truth. At best they answer questions in a manner not to give away too much or arouse suspicion. It’s like telling your girlfriend the bare minimum after a lads weekend to Amsterdam. “We walked through the red light district for a look”. No need to mention the walk took 2 hours as lads made the tough decision on which door to knock on.
Reports often have cited sources feeding them inside information about players and coaching decisions. This one is quite simple. Only listen to information from established reporters such as Ian Rapaport or Adam Schefter. These reporters have built up good reputations to make accurate statements. They will only report on items they feel are fairly concrete. Avoid any blogs or social media sites (except this one). And although sometimes it can pull out some brilliant insider info and a good laugh, a guy who knows a player from high school isn’t a reliable source. Statements like “Matt Breida playing out of his skin behind close doors and will not only win out the starting gig in San Francisco but lead the league in yards” carries a little bit of skepticism.
My one piece of advice is as follows: when it comes to training camp rumours remember that they are just training camp rumours. Training camp is fundamentally a place for players to practice for the upcoming season. That includes pieces of their skill set that needs improving. For example, if a quarterback throws 10 interceptions in a row, it might be due to him trying to do something that he hasn’t tried before. Alternatively, if a quarterback throws 10 TDs in a row, the defence could be trying to work on situation that leaves them vulnerable. I feel this fact is always overlooked by a lot of people.
So the main take away from this article is: don’t believe everything you hear being said about teams this early in the preseason. It could be true but it could just as easily be false. The preseason games will give a much better indication on how teams are really set up for the 2019 NFL season. And lucky for us it’s nearly here.