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Going deep worth more with rosters

Dec 9, 2008 5:05 PM
Feist Facts by Jim Feist | Depth is an essential element of success in football and one easily overlooked.

Big college programs use depth as a huge advantage over small schools. Because of injuries, Oregon had to use four QBs, but they combined for 19 touchdowns for one of the top offenses in the nation.

When Georgia seemingly lost all its running backs last year, it paved the way for freshman Knowshon Moreno to explode out of nowhere. In the NFL, the Tennessee Titans lost QB Vince Young in Week 1, but had a capable veteran backup in Kerry Collins during a 10-0 SU/9-1 ATS start.

 Good college coaches and pro general managers will build their teams with the understanding that they will lose some players during the season. The Lions and Bengals have been devastated by injuries and lack of depth in each of the last two seasons.

Five years ago the Pittsburgh Steelers had a starting quarterback in Tommy Maddox, but when Ben Roethlisberger fell to them in the first round (11th pick) of the draft they were delighted. The Steelers didn’t anticipate Maddox getting hurt in Week 2, but Roethlisberger stepped in to win 15 in a row as a rookie and the Super Bowl in his second season. Backup QB Byron Leftwich (2 TDs, no picks) filled in nicely when Big Ben was hurt.

Two years ago the Eagles lost star QB Donovan McNabb, but veteran Jeff Garcia was terrific off the bench in leading Philly to the playoffs on a 6-1 SU, 4-2-1 ATS to end the season.

Stockpiling depth, while managing a salary cap, is essential when injuries strike. It’s not just at quarterback. The NY Giants lost Michael Strahan to retirement and Osi Umenyiora in preseason, but it hasn’t stopped them from being a dominant defense again.

Part of it is luck and part is smart coaching and management. It’s not the job of a pro football general manager to be praying every Sunday for players not to get injured. Rather, the smart teams evaluate and upgrade depth, as injuries are to be expected.