Too Much, Too Soon for NFL Speculation


Imagine if you haven’t eaten a thing all day. It’s dinner time and you’re famished.

Then you sit down at the table and you devour everything in sight. Too much in one sitting.

That’s what those who cover NFL teams are doing right now.  They’re devouring everything in sight. They’ve been starved for football news and it’s too much.
Too much too soon.
And it’s irrelevant to boot.

I’m sure the fans who have been counting the days till the new season since last February are hungry for NFL news as well, but let’s be realistic.  Other than reports of significant injuries, stuff coming out of the camps is meaningless.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo woeful in first scrimmage.
No Clear Leader in Browns Three-Way Quarterback Race.
QB Mike Glennon completed every pass he threw at a Bears scrimmage.
Blake Bortles throws five interceptions in a Jacksonville Jaguars workout.

I mean, come on !

Bill Belichick was priceless when asked about a spectacular catch made by a wide receiver in a drill without pads at the Patriots camp.
Belichick, who as you all know has no love for the media, sarcastically praised them for their astute football-talent savvy and then said he was not qualified to make such judgments when there was no contact or plan other than throwing and catching.

Look, I’m not here to put down those who serve to inform the fans. I’m just saying they should use judgment as to what really has meaning and what does not.

The reality is, 32 NFL teams have begun training camps and are getting their pre-season underway. A quarterback who has a bad day today can look like Tom Brady tomorrow.
It’s camp!  Training camp!  There is no way you can draw conclusions on virtually anything.
Even when the pre-season games are played there is little to be deduced except for the few trying to win a spot on the roster or practice squad or the dreaded injury which invariably pops up.

I’ll go one step further and I’ve made this pronouncement in the past:
You cannot make definitive declarations on the prospects of a team’s season after it gets underway.  There may be only 16 games in the regular campaign, but even knowing that, it is a longer year than people realize.
How many teams have started off 5-0 then fizzled? How many have struggled at the outset and then turned it on to finish strong?
So if we’re arguing that perspective (badly missing these days in sports) is needed early when the games count, how about some of that perspective when the games don’t count or when there’s a practice without pads.
Take those daily communiques by the reporters with a grain of salt.
They have to give you SOMETHING.
Let it play out. This may be hard to fathom, but we all will have a pretty good idea who will be standing at the end, in December and early January, when teams are playing the last four games of their schedule. That’s the way it’s been, look it up.


Closer to home, a word about Syracuse University football.
When I attended SU, the Orange were a national power.
In fact, my final decision came down to Syracuse and Penn State. I wanted to focus on journalism, and both schools had great programs.
Remember, the fabulous Newhouse School of Communications hadn’t been built yet.
The broadcasting aspect of communications was not a factor, other than the existence of WAER, then a non-commercial campus radio station.  My experience there served me well.  It was my very first exposure to what became my blessed career.
I decided that the winner of the 1959  game between two undefeated schools would be the one I would attend.
The Orange edged the Nittany Lions 20-18 late in that season and Syracuse proceeded to go on a win the national championship with a perfect 10-0 campaign topped by a victory over Texas in the Cotton Bowl.  There was no question in my mind. Syracuse here I come.
At the time, basketball took a back seat to the gridiron, and while there were certainly many other seasons of glory and glorious performers for SU, hoops has been the kingpin in recent years.

The Orange have been struggling to return to the proud days of football accomplishment.
They’re trying, no question.

Penn State, also a national power for decades, fell into a somewhat similar hole for awhile.  We also know that a scandal had played a role in the Lions sagging fortunes.

But Penn State has made that big comeback.  I realize they play in the Big Ten, but the ACC is also a formidable football conference, and they have the reigning national champion in the Clemson Tigers.

Obviously recruiting is the name of the game. If Penn State can do it to the level they do, why can’t Syracuse?

It’s no secret that the depth and top-notch quality has shifted in this country by region.

The south is king. Florida and Georgia apparently lead the parade.
Those kids have lots of choices and we all know what schools they are.

Where do the kids who pick Penn State come from?

Just curious.  And why can’t SU get them to come here?