Blog Entry

Stop Resting the Starters!

Posted on: December 22, 2008 4:44 pm
Around this time every year, NFL coaches around the league who have lead their respective teams to comfortable division leads perhaps think about resting their starters. Resting the starters is done with the objective to preserve players from injury but the move has been proven to derail teams in the playoffs time and time again.

Unless I am mistaken, the team that best exemplifies the negative effects of resting the starters is the Indianapolis Colts. On an almost yearly basis, coach Tony Dungy rests the starters for the final game or two of the season in order to preserve them for the playoffs. I am a big fan of Dungy but according to Einstein, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." When the Colts rested their starters as in both 2005 and 2007, they have been defeated by the Chargers and Steelers; teams that didn't rest their starters and played the whole season. The 2005 Colts were more talented then the 2005 Steelers and that showed in their 26-7 victory over them earlier that year. However, the Steelers came in on a roll and the Colts were rusty. Due to Dungy's decision to rest the starters, the Colts may very well have given away the Vince Lombardi Trophy that year.

When the Colts played the whole season, they have had much better results. In 2006, the Colts had to battle for a playoff spot, which lead to Dungy playing the starters. The Colts got on a roll and defeated the Chiefs, Ravens, Patriots and Bears in the Playoffs. One could argue that the 2005 and 2007 teams were more talented then the 2006 team but they have had decidedly different results.

Resting the starters is simply a tactic that hinders the success of a team in the Playoffs. No evidence has yet been shown to the contrary. For Pete's sake, these are NFL players and there is no reason to baby them as some coaches do. It's true that an NFL game is always a battle but they are being paid to play games, not to watch on the sidelines. Let them play!

There is no reason to rest players like Peyton Manning, who has started every single game in his career and has missed only a handful of snaps. In the case of injury prone players like Bob Sanders, there is a legit argument to give him the week off but those cases are usually not the majority.

Coach Dungy has already announced his intention to rest the starters in week 17 against the Tennessee Titans. Unless the Colts buck that recent trend, I am afraid they are looking at another early Playoff exit.

As a final note, the past 3 Super Bowl champions have been the New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers. All of these teams were a #3 seed or below and had to battle for playoff spots. These teams played through and won because they were playing their best at the right time. Resting the starters causes players to be rusty and that shows on the field. So please, STOP RESTING THE STARTERS.


Since: Dec 15, 2008
Posted on: December 24, 2008 8:39 pm

Stop Resting the Starters!

Hey K!

Glad to see yer a colt's dude. I agree %250.00. Making them play will turn out to be the best ting for them...

Since: Mar 29, 2008
Posted on: December 24, 2008 8:06 pm

Stop Resting the Starters!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. I also noticed that the Colts don't have a first round bye and hopefully that means they aren't as rusty come playoff time.

Go Colts!

Since: Jul 21, 2008
Posted on: December 22, 2008 9:27 pm

Stop Resting the Starters!

Excellent take! I'm glad I'm not the only one that has noticed this.
There is one difference this season as compared to 2005 and 2007. The Colts don't have a first-round bye. Resting the starters in Week 17 and then having the first round bye basically meant the starters went almost 3 weeks without playing meaningful football. That combination killed the Colts in 2005 and 2007.
It may be one of the reasons why we fewer #1 seeds advancing to the Super Bowl as well. I pointed out on a thread that the last time the Super Bowl featured two #1 seeds was 15 years ago. The Cowboys-Bills rematch.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or