The Best NFL Rosters Start at The Bottom

Baltimore Ravens v Atlanta Falcons
at Georgia Dome on September 1, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Consistently successful NFL teams maintain quality depth. Depth provides insurance in the event of key injuries and it fuels competition within a team.

The threat of losing a job ushered in by competent competition channels a player’s focus, his attention to detail, the willingness to persevere all of which motivates him to dig a little deeper for even an extra ounce of effort.

Creating such a competitive environment forces athletes to show up on tape in any way they can.

They become more willing participants on special teams.

They do whatever it takes to achieve job security.

This is the culture that teams seek to develop and nurture. The best teams do it and often refer to the process as building a roster from the bottom up. Doing so provides a solid foundation upon which to build sustainable success.

When the Ravens sign or re-sign players like Justin Forsett or Terrence Cody for the veteran minimum without bonuses or guarantees it clearly places such players in a “put-up-or-get-out” position.

This could be their last chance and it fosters a sense of desperation.

And desperate times call for desperate measures.

Competition heats up as careers hang in the balance.

Forsett could be a surprise. He has little tread on his running back tires and when healthy he’s been an effective change-of-pace back, most recently in a Gary Kubiak offense as detailed here earlier this week by RSR’s Kyle Casey.

With Ray Rice’s poor 2013 season along with domestic issues that will likely impact his playing time in 2014 AND Bernard Pierce’s recovery from shoulder surgery, a reminder of his questionable durability, Forsett could stick even if the Ravens draft a running back.

Cody’s return is a bit of a surprise but given the price and the fact that his career hangs by a thread, the Ravens have nothing to lose. Every team needs camp fodder. It’s up to Cody to prove that he’s something more.

If John Harbaugh is lucky Cody will be inspired and even if such inspiration falls short of earning a roster spot, the effort may make the 53rd man on the roster better, then the 52nd and right on up through the food chain.

But it all starts at the bottom.

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About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

9 Raves on “The Best NFL Rosters Start at The Bottom

  1. Anonymous on said:

    I read that Pete Carroll went through over 800 players using this approach building-up Seattle’s team to what it is today. Competition Competition Competition

  2. Nick on said:

    I compare this article to the movie “From Dusk til Dawn” by Quentin Tarentino. It gets you mighty interested and then, boom, vampires, and you’re like…what. Why did this article end so abruptly? If it’s good, keep going. I feel like a just read a tweet. That being said, I agree with this very short article and it makes me excited because we’re a little lacking on run defense on the defensive line help. Haloti Ngata can’t be the entire D-Line again.

  3. jws on said:

    TL,Well said and as always well written.The only thing I would add is the bottom the roster may contain better or as good as players than the ones at the top of the depth charts.. Coaches evualtions led by Harbaugh and HIS staff, not Kubiak’s people, have always left something to be desired in these areas and many others too. Harbaugh refuses to play younger players soon enough even when their bad veteran free agent ,aging pickups do not play well. In . Last year rookies LB Brown and DT Wlliams sat while failed veterans Cody and McClain played. Why QB Tyrod Taylor is still the backup is a mystery when they had a veteran that outplayed him in Cam’s last yeahere but was cut.
    It took LB J Johnson, DT Arthur Jones and others two years to get a chance to start along with many others. Anothe important point TL, is that the cap is a key to having that strong back end roster with manygood players. This year’s team appears on paper to be one of, if not the strongest rosters going into any season because they had cap funds to re-sign some of their own and quailty free agents to add which Ozzie did brilliantly. But if they go into this season with no backup quarterback and if Flacco goes down no matter how well Rice comes back or the defense plays or the passing game comes aroundr how strong other positions may be on this team will not matter they will struggle to make the playoffs. Yes the backend of the roster is important so get a QB!

  4. Matt on said:

    One thing I DON’T enjoy, especially being a Ravens fan is what happens with guys like Arthur Jones. Draft him, train train train, put him in with guys like Ngata an Canty. He becomes a star, but then we can’t sign afford to sign him… The ravens have an incredible organization that builds stars. It just sucks seeing those guys pack up and leave cause they get more $$$ elsewhere.

    • dave on said:

      It is said that we can’t/shouldn’t judge a draft til 3 yrs out. I agree with you … by that time the late developers are gone. They leave. The underachievers linger behind.

  5. Ravcolt on said:

    The Ravens need three NEW running backs (not counting Forsett). It will be interesting to see how long it takes to acquire them.

  6. fatts on said:

    There isnt enough room on the roster for 3 NEW running backs, Rice, Pierce are on the roster so one more will be added for the finally spot

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