Every season it is interesting to see extreme fan reactions to preseason games. After the game, twitter is ablaze with angry fits of criticism and outrage.
The Panthers reaction to this outrage usually looks something like this....
Greg Hardy - Carolina Panthers
It occurred to me that some fans need a preseason football viewing tutorial.
Here are a few key points to help you understand and enjoy the preseason a bit more and save yourself some embarrassment on twitter.
1. The main objective is not winning. I know, this seems like football blasphemy, but if the coaches are being honest they would tell you the same. The main objective in preseason play is talent evaluation. In many cases, players earn or lose a roster spot in the preseason. Seeing a player's reaction to a real opponent in a real game with real hitting is the ultimate evaluation tool.
2. Another objective is play evaluation. The Panthers will start each game with a series of scripted plays they want to take a close look at. These are typically base plays to which variations can be added. Often times they will stick to the predetermined script despite a disadvantage in field position. Again, the goal is not scoring touchdowns, the goal is evaluation.
3. Coaching decisions or effectiveness are impossible to judge. With possibly slight exception in the third preseason game where light game planning is performed, we really won't see how effective the offense or defense play calling will be until the regular season.
4. Individual player performance is open to praise or criticism. There are very valid things to get excited or upset about in preseason, and individual player performance is one of them. This is especially true for the second and third string. These guys are playing for a roster spot, you are seeing them at their very best.
5. Special Teams can be fully evaluated. In the preseason the Special Teams unit are pretty much what you see is what you get. Feel free to fully judge.