It happens every year.
Fans obsessively follow every training camp practice and get overly excited when they hear that guys from their team look really good. Or conversely get worried upon hearing somebody is struggling.
This is your friendly, annual reminder to calm down. The first few days of training camp ultimately don’t mean a ton, especially when it comes to rumors about how particular players are performing. Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why hearing about a single practice, taking place over a month before the season starts, is not really going to tell you much about the season.
How often do you hear somebody say “This player looked great today,” using one big play he made as proof? Unfortunately, this blatantly ignores the consistency required from players to truly perform at a high level.
To go along with this is the problem of contrasting reports. One person will say a player looks great based on one or two flashy plays, while another person claims that same player is doing terrible because he had one bad miscue. Fans will naturally want to gravitate towards the positive reports, but balance is key.
Recent example: New kicker Cody Parkey made some long field goals, but also had a few misses. One reporter explained that all the misses came with the 2nd team holder, while another decided Parkey had a “shaky day.”
Looking Good or Looking Bad?
Another thing to keep in mind is that players are going up against their teammates in training camp, so somebody “looking good” could mean more that their teammate is bad. For example, hearing that the offensive line is consistently dominating their defensive counterparts in practice can be viewed two ways. On the one hand, the offensive line is looking really good. On the other hand, the defensive line is being outclassed. Does that say more good things about the offensive line or bad things about the defensive line?