College football rosters are huge. Pro football rosters are finite. First-time NFL coach Urban Meyer, who soon will trim his roster from 90 to 53, has devised a technique for giving out roster spots.
Via Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com, Meyer has employed one-on-one drills with an eye toward using the results for giving out jobs.
They’re calling it Winners and Losers day, and Wednesday was the first one.
For example, tight ends Tim Tebow and Chris Manhertz squared off in a special-teams blocking drill on Wednesday. The winner of each round had his name blared over a loudspeaker. Ultimately they went 2-2. (Without a tiebreaker, there’s no Winner or Loser, is there?)
“A big roster’s going to go to a smaller roster, and I think to be fair to players — we all have so much respect [and] this is a way guys make a living — I don’t believe in subjectivity,” Meyer said, via DiRocco. “I believe in, what’s your record? Every man’s got a record. What is it? You are what your record [is]. If you lose a lot but you have a lot of potential, that’s not real good. . . . Just over the course of my career, I can give you example after example [of players who] maybe they’re a little slow, but they just never lose.”
Although roster spots won’t be driven by these exercises, it will be a factor in close questions.
“Well, I haven’t done that before [used it to determine cuts],” Meyer said. “This is going to be the first [time]. But I’ve had to make decisions on who starts, and it’s not fair to players to say, Well, I’m starting [you] because I like you, or because you’re from Ohio. It’s just: Here’s the stats. They say statistics are for losers, and my comment is usually losers say statistics are for losers.
“So you’ve got a record. What’s your record? How’s it going? I just think that’s a complete mentality. That Tom Brady guy, his record’s really good. You move him to the Buccaneers, it’s really good. New England Patriots, really good.”
Whether it helps Meyer get the best possible group of 53 players remains to be seen. Whether it helps a guy like Tim Tebow a job remains to be seen.
It also remains to be seen whether any of these one-on-one drills potentially cross the line created in 2019, when the NFL banned Oklahoma drills and similar tactics as a safety measure. Given that the Jaguars already have been whacked this year for impermissibly intense offseason workouts, it’s fair to at least flag the question — especially if players are being pitted against each other in one-on-one settings in order to hand out jerseys.