Cowboys Preseason Doesn't Matter (But ...)
Adam Schein of NFL.com posted this on Twitter:
"Never, ever overreact to the NFL preseason. Having said that, the Cowboys are the worst team in the NFC."
There is no denying that the Dallas Cowboys struggled in their preseason opener against the Chargers, especially on defense. The team's pass rush was virtually nonexistent and the Chargers offense was able to do as it pleased. In fact, no Chargers QB threw an incompletion until the beginning of the fourth quarter in that 27-7 Dallas loss.
As discouraging as that is, consider this: The Cowboys were without Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick, Barry Church, Henry Melton, George Selvie, Terrell McClain and Rolando McClain. That's eight potential defensive starters that didn't play. The Cowboys were also resting Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar and Jason Witten.
Meanwhile, San Diego played nearly all of its starters. So when the Chargers had their first team on the field, the Cowboys had their second team. When the Chargers had their second team on the field, the Cowboys had their third team. The competition wasn't really at the same level for most of the game.
Still, there were plenty of negatives that you or Adam Schein could point out in the team's performance. But calling them "the worst team in the NFC" after one preseason game is ... well, irresponsible, especially for someone who covers football for a living and should therefore know better.
Is Mr. Schein just trying to be "cute" or "snarky" or relying on an awareness that a Cowboys-related tweet like this earns his grander attention? Yes. Yes. Yes.
But to put Week 1 of the preseason in perspective, how about if we apply the same "snark" (plus actual statistical analysis) to, say, the 49ers and Patriots?
Weren't they just as bad in their debuts? If Mr. Schein made that Cowboys statement based on the final score of the game, then that would actually make the 49ers the worst team in the NFC, having scored just three points while allowing 23. Likewise, it would make the Patriots the worst team in the AFC as they were only able to muster six points while giving up 23.
Now, maybe Schein wasn't solely basing his opinion on the final score. Maybe he was looking at the stats or maybe it was the penalties.
At the risk of being accused of taking our jobs way too seriously parentheses which we do): Let's compare the Cowboys stats from their first preseason game to the 49ers and Patriots.
1st Downs: 20
!st Downs Allowed: 24
Total Yards: 274
Total Yards Allowed: 395
Time of Possession: 28:50
Opponents Time of Possession: 31:10
Penalties: 9 (54 yards)
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
1st Downs: 13
1st Downs Allowed: 27
Total Yards: 187
Total Yards Allowed: 386
Time of Possession: 20:23
Opponents Time of Possession: 39:37
Penalties: 9 (72 yards)
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
1st Downs: 15
1st Downs Allowed: 26
Total Yards: 270
Total Yards Allowed: 387
Time of Possession: 20:48
Opponents Time of Possession: 39:12
Penalties: 9 (81)
As you can see, the Cowboys did better than these other two teams in every stat other than yards allowed (although they only gave up less than 10 yards more than the other two teams). All three teams had the same number of penalties as well, however the 49ers and Patriots lost more yards than the Cowboys.
Don't misunderstand my point here. I'm not saying that the Cowboys will be better than the 49ers or the Patriots in 2014. I'm not denying the possibility of a huge gap there once the games get real. I'm simply pointing out the fact that these preseason stats mean ... nothing.
But ... overreacting to preseason games is one of the most ignorant things we can do as football followers.
The 2005 Colts went 0-5 in the preseason with a combined score of 143-72 but then started the regular season with 13 consecutive victories, ending up with a record of 14-2. The 2008 Lions went 4-0 in the preseason with a combined score of 80-32, only to become the first team in NFL history to go 0-16 in the regular season.
To coin a phrase: What happens in the preseason, stays in the preseason. The play-calling is vanilla, the guys are rusty, and the primary goal is to evaluate players, not to win the game. What we see in August is different than what we'll see in the regular season, which is still a full month away.
I trust Adam Schein already understands this as well as he understands the value of trolling. But just in case you don't: His tweet was half-right. The part that labeled the Cowboys "the worst team in the NFC" is ridiculously presumptuous. The other part of it that says, "never, ever overreact to the NFL preseason" suggests Mr. Schein has half a clue.
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