Does the Scoreboard Matter?

It is a commonly repeated mantra, preseason doesn’t matter. Don’t get too high if you are winning, don’t get too low if you are losing.

Technically no, of course not, preseason doesn’t matter in the least bit. However can anything be gleaned from PS performances other than the quality of individual performances? It is often cited that the Lions went 4-0 in preseason last year, prior to going 0-16 in the regular season. Winning and losing in the preseason is highly dependent on substitution patterns and the quality of a teams 2nd/3rd string.

However if we look back at the performance of 1’s vs 1’s, a different picture emerges. It does seem that in fact performance in preseason can tell us something. I’ll look back at coach McCarthy’s time in preseason, since his preseason substitution patterns have been largely unchanged as long as he has been head coach.

(opp, final record): 1 vs 1 score, final W/L

2006 preseason:
Wk 1 (SD, 14-2): 0-7 L
Wk 2 (Atl, 7-9): 7-7 W
Wk 3 (Cin, 8-8): 7-34 L
Wk 4 (Ten, 8-8): 7-0 L
Total points: 21-48, final W/L record 1-3
In the regular season we finished 8-8, but were 4-8 at one point. In preseason, we stunk. Aside from the game against Atlanta it was a downright embarrassing time to be a Packer fan. The Tn game only had 1 drive each for the starting offense and defense, so that score doesn’t tell us too much. It carried over. We were shut out week 1 at Lambeau, and didn’t start to put it together until late in the year, finishing with a 4 game win streak largely won with strong defense.

2007 preseason:
Wk 1 (Pit, 10-6): 0-0 W
Wk 2 (Sea, 10-6): 17-3 W
Wk 3 (Jax, 11-5): 10-0 L
Wk 4 (Ten, 10-6): 7-0 L
Total points: 34-3, final W/L record 2-2
In 2007 we would go on to finish 13-3 in the regular season. We played a slate of good teams in the preseason and our starters dominated at times, always at least playing decent, though we consistently struggled to run the ball. The first team defense yielded only a field goal, the offense was good at scoring points, aside from against the perennial defensive powerhouse, the Steelers. The momentum our starters begun in the preseason carried into the regular season. The offense sputtered at first before coming on, but the defense held up, and the season began with long win streak. But the preseason running troubles were not solved until midseason.

2008 preseason:
Wk 1 (Cin, 4-11): 10-7 L
Wk 2 (SF, 7-9): 3-7 L
Wk 3 (Den, 8-8): 13-17 W
Wk 4 (Ten, 13-3): 7-3 L
Total points: 33-34, final W/L 1-3
2008 saw an offense that could consistently score, but a defense that struggled. The team finished 6-10, but was close to winning a number of those games. Offensive production only saw a slight decline from 2007, likewise the preseason 1 vs 1 scoring production was largely similar to 2007, slightly worse (though the quality of preseason opponents declined considerably). Defensive production took a nosedive however, the dominant squad of 2007 was not seen in 2008. Again, the trends of the starters carried through to the regular season.

2009 preseason
Wk 1 (Cle, ???): 14-0 W
Wk 2 (Buf, ???): 24-0 W
Total points (thus far): 38-0
With the first string preseason trends that we’ve set under McCarthy thus far, you’ve got to like the way the 2009 season is looking, though there are still 2 preseason games to be played. Our first string offense has already outscored every other preseason in full, and our defensive starters have not given up a point. It looks a lot more like 2007 and a lot less like 2006 and 2008.

Thus far not one glaring weakness can be found in our play, and our players don’t just dominate at times, our first string players have consistently dominated thus far.


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