While the roster still has some shaking out to do, the worst of the cuts are past. What lessons can we take away from cut day?
1. The fourth preseason game is all but meaningless. If ever three players made a statistical case for making a team, it was Brandstater, White, and James who lit up the scoreboard at the Luke on Thursday night. In fact, none of them made the team, and it's not exactly a surprise. The truth is and always has been that the fourth preseason game MEANS NOTHING. The next time someone tries to sell you a line about how so and so secured his roster spot in game four, just say the name "Blair White". That'll end the discussion real quick. Maybe one guy on the bubble beat out another guy on the bubble, but game four is not the time for 'big movers'. No matter what they say, the results of this cut day show how much of the roster was already set before Thursday night. By the way, that's a good thing. You'd hope that after a month of seeing these guys every day, the coaches weren't all confused about who can play and who can't.
There is no need for four preseason games. I think we have proof of that.
2. Don't fumble a kick if you want to make the team. The Colts don't value kick returners. The only thing they ask is that the returner doesn't fumble. I don't think Moore looked any better than James or Fisher, at least not in the last two games. What he had that the others did not was a clean slate fielding kicks. He made the squad. The others are cut. Good for the local guy. The last time the Colts had a local kid return kicks, it was Courtney Roby who got cut after one week, an unfortunate casualty of a roster that was falling apart with injuries. Let's hope Moore hangs around longer.
3. Preseason stats lie. Without knowing who was in a game at any given moment, it's difficult to compare player performances. Fans can work hard watching tape, but there are just some things we can't know by crunching numbers and rewinding plays. The preseason, even more than the regular season, is difficult to gauge from the outside. The talent levels shift dramatically on both sides of the ball from drive to drive. Six points in the first half against starters is worth a lot more than 21 points in the second half against guys about to be cut.
4. Polian is shrewd. We don't know what he surrendered for CB Justin Tyron yet, but I do know that he made #5 the Football Outsiders list of 2010 Breakout Players. Of Tyron they said:
Tryon only started two games during his second year in the league, but he played like he belonged in the Millionaires' Club. According to the Football Outsiders game charting project, Tryon allowed 5.8 adjusted yards per attempt, nearly a half-yard better than any other Redskins corner. Despite spending time in the slot, Tryon didn't allow receivers to get open deep; passes at him were only thrown an average of 7.8 yards away from the line of scrimmage, the lowest figure -- by far -- among Redskins corners.
This is a great pickup, and another reason not to worry about depth at a position like corner. Cover-2 corners can be had on the cheap. Tyron fell out of favor with a new coaching staff looking to install a new defense. That's exactly the kind of guy who can turn around to do big things somewhere else. I love this move.
5. The Colts don't blow picks. All of the Colts 2010 draft class made the team except for Kevin Thomas (who blew out his knee in a freak accident in his first practice) and their last pick, Ray Fisher. Already, the most controversial pick, LB Pat Angerer, has shown signs of becoming a fan favorite and a steady contributor. Two of the Colts' three seventh rounders made the team.
6. Moala wasn't on the bubble. We all felt like he was improving, and if he had been on the bubble it would have burst after his antics Thursday night. He's still with the team. That's a good sign for him and probably a bit of relief as well. Next time, pass the keys, bud.
7. It's not over yet. There are still some questionable bodies on the roster (Ahem, Gijon Robinson, ahem). The Colts will go over the cast offs around the league and probably have a few more cuts to make. I doubt we'll see big names like Leinart or James Hardy, but now is the time to nail down some depth and special teams players. Darrell Reid, anyone?
The end results were anti-climatic. There were no serious upsets. No one who really deserved to make the team got cut. Even Blair White looked like a pretty average player. Some vets I thought were gone are still around like Hart and Robinson.
The roster is a moving target. Today is just a snapshot. There is a pool of 10 guys or so who are out of work at the moment, but will have to suit up before all is said and done.
We haven't heard the last of some of these guys.