NFL Preseason - a Coach's Take

Coach Tom Bass
Former NFL Defensive Coordinator of the Bucs, Chargers and Bengals

Aside from specific position battles on a given team, what should Fantasy owners be looking for in the preseason? We went to Coach Tom Bass, a man with 25-plus years of NFL coaching experience to find out the real deal. Here's what Tom told us.

Coach Bass
This is a very important area that Fantasy Owners should understand and evaluate.

There is a great difference of approach to the pre-season by the various teams. There will be teams where winning or losing is not important at all. You can identify these teams by their substitution, which is set and does not change regardless of the score of the game. A veteran will play a set amount of plays then come out and never go back in the game.

On other teams with a large number of veteran players, saving them will be of primary concern and you will not see much of them until the third game when they will get most of the playing time, usually during the first half.

The third game is important because any injury to a starter will have two weeks to heal before the opening game of the regular season.

Teams who have lost the previous year will be the teams most inclined to go all out and try to attract attention by winning pre-season games. They will have a tendency to play their starters longer and often the starters will be running up pre-season statistics against second and third team players.

There is very little correlation between winning in the pre-season and having success the rest of the year.

Question: What are some of the things a coaching staff looks for when two players are battling for the starting job at training camp? What do NFL staffs usually do to break a tie?

Answer: Players may start out even but by the end of two-a-days and pre-season games there will be separation. During this time as a coach you are looking at the way each player takes coaching and adjusts to changes and new situations. Obviously you are evaluating the way they perform during every practice and every game. At the same time you closely watch the way they work in the classroom and their ability to comprehend new material that is added each and every day.

You try to get a feel for their toughness and how they handle minor bumps and bruises. Players who live in the tub seldom make the club. If it is real close it may be a gut feeling that the staff has or the experience of one player over the other.

On many NFL teams the coaching staffs will meet with the personnel people and vote on who to start or release. Usually in these situations the Head Coach's vote will usually count for 51 % and all the other votes for 49 per cent. Most assistant coaches will vote with the Head Coach so the decision of the coaching staff is unanimous.