The cycle has become predictable.
NFL player or coach says something that potentially motivates an opponent. Some media members downplay the notion that the things said will actually motivate an opponent. The opponent wisely, in most cases, waits to respond on the field.
And then the opponent does.
We saw it on Sunday night, when JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s “the Browns is the Browns” comment stirred up Cleveland. We also saw it on Saturday night, when the Buccaneers kept Washington’s pass rush from affecting quarterback Tom Brady.
“I think it was the biggest storyline of the week, just because one guy says, ‘I want Tom [Brady] all of a sudden,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians told reporters, in reference to the comments from Chase Young and the chatter they inspired. “They’ve got a great front. Our guys took it to heart — they were going to block them. I thought we blocked them really, really well. They didn’t scare us.”
Although in many cases the quote that motivates an opponent wasn’t meant to do so, the reality is that anything an NFL player or coach says can and will be used to motivate an opponent, if there’s any way to twist the words into motivation. That goes for Young, Smith-Schuster, and anyone else.
Intent doesn’t matter. Once the words are blurted out, it’s over. The challenge, especially for young players and the organizations that employ them, is to come up with ways to avoid inadvertently supplying an opponent with extra motivation through a careless comment.
By now, it should be obvious that statements like “the Browns is the Browns” and “I want Tom” have a very real impact. The effort to keep players from adding to that list should be aggressive.