Younger teams get better through the season while older teams don’t

I was listening to a pod today and Mike Lombardi brought this up.

The Lions have never been young until now and I think this statement holds up based on what we saw this year.

He said younger players can practice all year while you have to load manage vets.


I don’t really buy into this. A 28-30 year old vet probably has more stamina then the 1st or 2nd year player out of college.
I do believe the younger players will improve more over the 5-6 year vet, as the vet has reached his ceiling while the young ones are getting to their ceiling.

I’d like to see data that proves this out, especially on a roster basis.

Lots of confounding variables, like old kickers, punters, and quarterbacks that can skew roster age data without really impacting the field.

There are likely rules of thumb that make sense…

  • Rookies tend to fall off because they’re not used to the grind and spent a good chunk of the offseason preparing to get drafted rather than preparing to play for 17+ games

  • Young guys (years 2-3) are still improving in general

  • Prime guys (years 4-8ish) are likely steadier throughout the season

  • Old guys have to focus on conditioning and load management, but that’s likely offset by veteran savvy

That can all be true (or at least directionally true) without really being noticeable roster-to-roster. Teams have a mix of players, and they’re all within a fairly narrow age band. I suspect differences with individual players will drown out any effect on rule-of-thumb generalities when you look across the league over several seasons.


I played hockey which is much more endurance based than football. I don’t think it was age related as much as your commitment to cardio. I did so much cardio, including hockey, that I could literally eat all I wanted and I didn’t gain much weight. Then I went off to college, had less time for hockey, and was presented with unlimited food including deserts for lunch and dinner. I gained a few pounds. I absolutely hated carrying that weight and worked to take it off. But yeah, it’s cardio.


Injuries are also going to play a factor. It’s no coincidence Detroit got better as their health continued to improve and they got talented players back. With more talent and improved depth that also allowed our coordinators to use more of the playbook and improve schemes.

Good lord, it’s an opinion……it isn’t that far fetched of an idea. Lions are an example as the OP is saying….we are expecting the young guys to continue to grow and be better and we saw the rookies grow as the season went on.

Another point to consider is older rookies. In many sports (basketball and Football) the older rookie is considered a negative bc their ceiling is lower and there isn’t a big upside. Their development is going to be limited


Of course young teams will Improve from beginning to end of season. They are still learning “shortcuts “ of the system they are running. The more they do it the faster they will get at it. It’s experience thats all. Vet teams have that experience from beginning of season so their learning curve is less so they are less likely to make major improvements as season goes on.


That’s probably not true. I don’t have specific data to back it up, but typically your body weakens when you put more stress under it, like hits and conditioning (which is stupid) and weightlifting, and that stress builds up over time given how much these guys work out as NFL athletes.

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I guess I say it’s a debatable point. Obviously I can’t speak for NFL athletes, but I lifted more, ran faster and was much stronger at age 28 than 21. Just a personal experience take. :smirk:

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There is some truth to that, although they are barely even allowed to touch each other in practice these days. I think you get something like 12-14 full padded practices for the entire season, can’t even have 1 every week. It’s mostly a pijama party at practice most days during the nfl season as Campbell called it earlier this season.

Rookies are often known to hit the rookie wall as well. So 2 sides to that coin.

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I’ve seen veteran teams get good late, and young teams. I’ve seen both fall. I don’t think much connection there. Good teams generally have a mix.

This absolutely makes sense to me. In college, teams can look totally different by week 10 than they looked in week 2. If you have a young team, you’re talking about most of your guys being a year or two removed from college, getting NFL coaching (and strength training) for the first time in their lives—not to mention acclimating themselves to the speed of the game. It would be bizarre if you didn’t see more improvement over the course of a season than with more veteran teams.

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Young doesn’t necessarily mean rookies

True, and one thing is for sure, we are going to be a roster loaded with 2nd and 3rd year guys next year after the drafts Holmes has had the past 2 years.

While I do believe that younger teams can improve during the season, I believe the practice part is not the reason why.

I would think that younger teams have a better chance of staying healthy as the season progresses. I also think that younger players learn during the process of going through their first season or two. So younger teams would improve their play with experience and veteran teams may have a higher instance of injury causing them to decline.

Please do not think this is anything beyond antidotal because I have zero data to back it up and I am not going to spend time finding it. But it would make sense that these items contribute.

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Not even close to being a debatable point… if what you are saying is true, then Tom Brady would have more stamina than any other player in the league. I mean… it’s common sense

I have to find the clip but he mentioned this too.

Younger guys don’t have the nagging injuries older guys do.

He said 28 though, not 50 like Brady! lol

And welcome to the board!

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True story… looking forward to all the fun on this board


I think your view of it is the more accurate one, based on the real world. I think a snapshot of Fred Taylor’s career and what he has said about it is a good discussion topic. When he came into the league he was known to be explosive, but injury prone. You can see his best combination of health and production was in years 5 and 6. And there is a general trend towards being healthier in the few years that followed vs the few years before it. Fred has some sorted details on each year and his injury history. But generally speaking one thing he says helped him was having a better understanding of how to be a pro. Being more sound in his nutrition, recovery techniques, injury prevention techniques, etc.

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