NFL veteran Mike Pritchard sounds off on Week 1 topics
One of the things that I appreciate the most at VSiN is being able to get a player’s perspective when it comes to football. Both Mike Pritchard and Shaun King are regular contributors and tremendous resources for our listeners and I want them to be for our readers as well. That’s why we’ll be doing the “Player Perspectives” series each week throughout the NFL season.
Mike can be heard on Friday editions of The Lombardi Line (1-3 p.m. ET / 10 a.m.-Noon PT), along with bouncing around the network doing guest spots as our lead NFL analyst. Shaun can be heard Monday-Friday with Tim Murray on VSiN Primetime (6-9 p.m. ET / 3-6 p.m. PT)
This week, I asked about the preseason, teams that impressed the most, and what it’s like to begin a new season in Week 1.
Which team impressed you the most during the preseason?
Mike Pritchard: The team that impressed me the most is the Pittsburgh Steelers. There are too many reasons to list, so I’ll share the most important reason. Coaching - I think Tomlin is on top of his game. He seems to know the pulse of his team regardless of its dynamic. The 2023 season could be a special one for the Steelers because Tomlin has created this young and talented roster. Without restraints, I think the Steelers will take leaps forward and continue to impress throughout the season.
Which team did not impress you during the preseason?
Mike Pritchard: A team that did not impress me during the preseason is the 49ers. It feels like complacency is setting in. They embarrassed themselves with the Trey Lance situation and it took a long time to find a way to sign one of the best players in the NFL (Nick Bosa). Brock Purdy in his first year as a full-time starter and will have to improve while coming back from offseason surgery on his throwing elbow. It’s an older roster that will have to ‘manage’ the season smartly.
Walk us through the start of the season. What are the coaches saying? How much of the playbook is available? Which side of the ball is more advanced at this point? Anything else about Week 1 you’d like to share?
Mike Pritchard: The start of the season is unique for every team. It’s best to break it down with tiers.
Super Bowl-caliber teams:
The start of the season is relief. Relief that it’s finally here and we hopefully avoided injuries during the preseason. The last two weeks have been a rev-up period with focus on getting off to a hot start. These teams have advantages in continuity and understand the lofty expectations.
These teams are looking for early consistency. These teams often have 22 players that can help them reach the playoffs. If they can develop 12-16 more players, then those teams often get hot when it matters most.
These teams are trying to figure out what they have. We sometimes see an outlier team emerge from this tier and achieve surprising positive results.
The playbooks are now condensed to game-plan books. Veteran teams or Super Bowl-caliber teams can get to any play they need to. Those other-tiered teams will mostly stick to their particular game plan for a particular week.
Offense is usually ahead of defense unless a particular match up involves an offense that profiles to have growing pains vs. a defense with continuity.