The Trap

I’ve been waiting for it.

It happens every year.

Someone falls for The Trap.

The Trap is the preseason.  Every year, you find some simple minded analyst who thinks he sees something game changing in preseason football and goes out on a limb that he shouldn’t.  This year it’s National Football Post writer Greg Gabriel.  The former scout REALLY liked what he saw from the Titans this past week.  The poor sap took the bait little by little. He should have realized the flaws in his argument from the start:

Last week I talked about how different coaches use the preseason. Tennessee is one of those teams that make a statement. They attack and they don’t hold anything back.

So he realizes that not everyone is playing the same game in the preseason.  Good start.  Then he starts to go gaga over Vince Young:

He is playing with much more confidence and poise. He does not hurry things. The game is no longer fast for him.

Oooh, no!  You didn’t just make that assessment based on him playing preseason defenses did you, Greg?  You realize that’s not an accurate test of how well a quarterback makes reads, don’t you?

Then he has glowing things to say about the Titans’ D

They usually come off the bus blitzing and they looked no different last night. They put constant pressure on the offense.

Again, he should have realized from his first statement that the Titans are playing in a different gear from most teams in the preseason.  He was the one who brought that up to begin with.  Unfortunately, Greg has fallen right into The Trap.  He saw a team look really good.  He saw a QB make reads and a defense be unusually aggressive.  By now he’s fully entrenched in the snare:

I will say right now that Tennessee has to be the favorite to win the AFC South over Indianapolis.

Oh, Greg.  You saw two preseason games and have decided the Titans are the favorites?  That’s what The Trap does to you, it makes you say crazy things.  Could the Titans win the South?  Sure.  Can any rational person consider them ‘favorites’?  No, and certainly not based on the second preseason game.

When I talk about preseason being ‘unimportant’, I don’t mean it in the absolute sense.  It’s important for the teams, coaches and players.  It is not, however, useful for doing any kind analysis.  You can’t try and parse preseason action and draw any correlations to regular season play.  If anything is valuable at all, it’s the first half of the third preseason game.  Tomorrow night’s first half against what promises to be a goodish Packer team might tell us something about where the Colts are at.

The problem with preseason is exactly what Gabriel mentioned.  Teams use it for different things.  Anyone who adjusts his idea of what a team is based on preseason games is not to be taken seriously.  In the preseason, injuries matter.  Maybe a rookie breaks out.  Anything else is nonsense.

No matter how well Vince Young reads a preseason defense, the Titans are NOT favorites to win the South.

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