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Needing the offseason

Posted by Darren Urban on May 31, 2011 – 2:29 pm

As the opportunity for any organized offseason work drains away with the passing days, there is a legitimate argument both ways over the importance of the offseason and what it means to each team. Last week, veteran NFL writer Vito Stellino — through SI’s Peter King — talked about how the offseason work once didn’t exist and the NFL operated just fine.

Again, it’s a fair point to make. Notes Stellino, “The real reason for these things is Parkinson’s Law. Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” He points out that players once had to work in the offseason to make enough money, and it’s only with the advent of bigger contracts — and the ability for players to not have to work — that have allowed players to be available to do more each offseason.

Perhaps. I would tend to argue the other side.

Growing up in Arizona, before the Cards moved here, I got into sports right at the time when the Steelers were king. My mom bought me a Lynn Swann jersey at a garage sale right before the second Steelers-Cowboys Super Bowl, and I had my childhood team. I mention this only because I have a few VHS tapes of Steelers’ games from my youth — nostalgia and all that — and I have watched them. Run-of-the-mill regular-season contests. And what do I notice? That that game is nothing like what is being played today.

I know, that seems obvious. But it factors into today’s offseason work. Today’s playbook is more complicated. The premium placed on not turning the ball over is so much higher than it used to be (watch those 70’s QBs huck the ball downfield in search of a big play; interceptions weren’t good but they weren’t as frowned upon as now). Running, running, running was much more commonplace. Precision in the passing game — which takes reps — wasn’t as important.

The other factor? This is to which what these players have become accustomed. They are used to getting some offseason work with teammates and coaches. What happens when they don’t get it? And, of course, that doesn’t account for specific situations — like the Cards — who will be breaking in a new QB too.



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Posted in Blog | 19 Comments »


19 Responses to “Needing the offseason”

  1. By Phoenixraven1 on May 31, 2011 | Reply

    Glad your back D!!!

  2. By MikeG on May 31, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Darren–Welcome back. Certainly following the Steeler’s of the 1970’s–you saw one of the greatest teams and greatest Super Bowls of all times. Certainly the game has changed and in some ways not for the better. In your years of watching Super Bowls which game do you think was the best and most exciting Super Bowl???? Those 2 Cowboy-Steeler’s were great in the 70-‘s and hey Cardinals-Steeler’s in 2008 was a great game!!!!

  3. By tom on May 31, 2011 | Reply

    nice throwback pic of fitz!

  4. By Joe Holst on May 31, 2011 | Reply

    They should just forget about any trades and go with Skelton at this point in time and sign Hassleback,mcnabb or Bulger to challenge him. Free Agency is a lost cause too because players are going to be out of shape, and the learning curve for the new systen is going to be too steep. Tank 2011-12 season and go for Andrew Luck and his 70% completion percenrage.

  5. By Leeskicitizen on May 31, 2011 | Reply

    In my opinion, this lockout is a dangerous gambit coming from the league (maybe some, but not all owners) that is denying the capacity of the coaches, players, and the fans to develop the ongoing chemistry that makes NFL football what it is. It’s no secret that the main motive in this lockout is control, manifested in the issues of who controls the game itself, who gets paid what, and other issues. In reality, the true benefactors of the NFL are the financiers, aka, the fans, for without them there would be no league. But who cares about them. I think it’s blatant arrogance for the league to act as if it’s (NFL) their ball, and if we don’t like how they want to play the game they will take the ball and go home.

    All of the issues on the state of the NFL could be settled without a lockout. I understand that certain issues like trades and new contracts would need to be factored in and would change the developmental part of the year, but that would actually work in favor of hastening the new agreement. Rookies, even though unsigned, could still meet and work with their new coaches and teammates in a limited capacity. Mini camps could still be done. Chemistry could still develop, and the critical issue of the players working with the training staff to improve the health of the players keeping them safer from dangerous injuries.

    Pay the players their 60%. It’s a set percentage that implies flexibility and is a very fair way of doing business. I believe the league has a responsibility to serve the game, not control it. Taking care of the players and the fans in a fair business manner will bring prosperity to everyone involved. The league has the rare opportunity at this point in the economic history of the United States to prove that money doesn’t have to be made at the expense of anyone, but rather because of making sure everyone benefits fairly.

  6. By Darren Urban on May 31, 2011 | Reply

    MikeG —

    RE: Super Bowls

    I had a little more at stake in the game with the Cardinals. As much of an imprint as those childhood viewings had on me, nothing compares to being a part of it.

  7. By Steve on May 31, 2011 | Reply

    Darren: Other than AZ, which team/s do you expect will really bid seriously for Kolb?

  8. By Steve on May 31, 2011 | Reply

    Darren: If I ever have the good fortune to run into you at a bar, I’ll buy you a “cold one”

  9. By brad oneill on May 31, 2011 | Reply

    The owners made a tactical error when they statred the lock out too early. They would have much more leverage if they had allowed practice and preseason to develop with the lock out not taking effect until player paychecks were on the line. I gaurantee the players would be much more willing to work on a settlement if they were invested in the season.

    But hey who am I to criticize the brilliant minds behind blackouts, multimillion dollar gauranteed contracts to unproven athletes, broadcast rules that don’t allow for overtime.

  10. By Darren Urban on May 31, 2011 | Reply

    Steve —

    RE: Kolb

    Impossible to know for sure. The teams without a solid QB — like Seattle, maybe Cleveland — could be involved.

  11. By Micheal on May 31, 2011 | Reply

    I find it funny that people still mention Mcnabb and the cardinals in the same sentence! I guess you can tell who the real long time fans are.

  12. By nor cal cards fan on Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

    Do u still root for the Steelers when they are not playing the Cards?

  13. By Jeff Gollin on Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

    Darren – What we fans might find helpful would be a comparison of what players on each of the 32 teams is doing in the way of workouts during the lockout; specifically: (a) How many players on each club are participating? (b) Who’s organizing the workouts? (c) Which teams are bringing in outside experts (i.e. unaffiliated trainers coaches or assistants) and which ones are “winging it?” (d) Which teams are running structured “playbook-oriented” drills and which ones are keeping things pretty informal? (e) How many workouts per week? How many weeks?

    Without this – all we know is that players on some teams (maybe all teams) are conducting informal workouts, but we don’t know whether the guys on our team are doing more, less or the same-as other NFL teams – or how close they are to regular OTA’s and minicamp drills (and, therefore, how effective they are).

    It would be a heckuva writing project, Darren (I smell road trip)!!

  14. By emm7777 on Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

    I agree with Joe. I don’t think Kolb is worth what they want for him. Go with Skelton and get him some competition besides Anderson, obviously.

  15. By Darren Urban on Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

    Nor Cal —

    RE: Steelers

    My Steelers days are long, long behind me.

  16. By Darren Urban on Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

    Jeff —

    RE: “Project”

    Yeah, I don’t see that happening. And again, I don’t know how important the current workouts are. Take, for instance, strength and conditioning. All the guys are doing it. But are they going as hard as they would with Lott watching? It’s a lot easier to take it easy when you are paying the trainer, rather it being in-house.

    As for on-field, it sounds good if you say the playbooks are being used. But there are no coaches to get on your behind if you do it wrong or half-ass it. There is no film to go back and self-critique, even if you think you’re doing it right.

  17. By former AZ.resident on Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

    I think maybe be better to get a free agent quaterback than to lose our picks to get one. Darren is it to true that next year draft is gonna be filled with better player than this years even with the quaterbacks.

  18. By Darren Urban on Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

    Former Az —

    RE: Next year’s draft

    Well, Andrew Luck will be available. Beyond that … I mean, I don’t know about each draft class until we get to the Scouting combine. I couldn’t begin to tell you who will be there.

  19. By Haggis Bob on Jun 1, 2011 | Reply

    RE: Darren
    RE: Steeler days

    Thank god good sir!

    I had the other jersey on myself, grandma was a Cowboys fan. Since NM has no pro teams you had to pick one, or have one handed to you by family.

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