Ranking the NFL offseason’s most ridiculous cliches as ‘best shape of his life’ season begins with OTAs

The time after the NFL Draft is an awkward one for the league. There aren’t many official activities happening outside of small camps. The NFL news cycle, however, stops for nothing – Not even a total dearth of meaningful news.

With 24-hour news coverage of sports and the media behemoth the NFL has become, something has to fill the dead air. For many teams, that something has become largely meaningless platitudes about new acquisitions or players who went into the offseason with concerns.

While it’s good to have goals and there’s nothing wrong with keeping a fanbase engaged, these cliches have become so old-hat many fans could recite them verbatim without reading a headline.

MORE: Will the Raiders sign Colin Kaepernick?

In keeping with the slow nature of the news cycle, here is a ranking of the best NFL offseason cliches, along with some examples from this year.

1. “[x] is in the best shape of his life “

This one is especially prevalent with players whose bodies and body management have been called into question. Without really seeing much of the players, it’s easy for coaches to start to steer opinions of the fanbase by talking about how tremendous players are looking as soon as they walk through the door.

Before he was a walking piece of low-hanging fruit, Kelvin Benjamin said “I need to be in the best shape of my life” before the 2017 season. In 2016, Eddie Lacy made headlines when he worked out with a P90X trainer.

The reality is, if a player is in the best shape of his life or has always been getting better, there’s no reason to talk about it. Although, shoutout to Zach Wilson and the Jets, who are innovating on the cliche. Robert Salah said his quarterback is “beefy, but in a good way,” by USA Today.

Patriots QB Mac Jones has also reportedly shed his dad bod, and his “stomach is gone.”

It’s not called Best Shape of his Life season for nothing. Expect a lot more of this to come.

Why is it No. 1?

If you come at the king you’d best not miss. “Best shape of his life” is a multi-year champion, and it’s off to a strong start this year. This is the cliche, and it will be respected as such.

2. “He throws a beautiful ball”

An archetype is attached to this common quote from wide receivers and coaches. If they’re working with a quarterback for the first time, every ball is blinding in its majesty. A perfect spiral. A gorgeous spot. No quarterback has ever, in NFL history, made a terrible throw before the preseason, when they mysteriously forget how to play.

A cursory search will turn up this absolute gem of a tweet.

This, from 2018, is about Luke Falk. And this is nothing against Daniel Jeremiah whatsoever. Rather, it illustrates the perils of talking about players playing without a defense. Dear readers could be forgiven for not being entirely certain who Falk is. He appeared in two games for the Jets in 2019. His legacy lives on in this video from the team.

Tyreek Hill made headlines this week when he called Tua Tagovailoa’s throws “one of the prettiest balls I’ve seen.” NFL wide receivers are paid good money to make lemonade out of lemons, but no matter how good Tagovailoa ends up being this year – and he could end up being very good! – he doesn’t throw a ball one would often call “pretty.”

Matt Eberflus has also been effusive with praise for Justin Fields, saying something similar.

We will hear various versions of this quote throughout the offseason, but whoever you are out there, congratulations. It’s been said you throw a beautiful ball.

Why is it No. 2?

Consistency is a beautiful thing, and it’s great to see when this quote turns up. Every receiver is best friends with a quarterback when they start out. Then fast-forward to Week 9 and they aren’t getting enough targets.

3. [Late-round pick/UDFA] is turning heads

Hitting on a first-round pick is one thing, and it is commendable. But nothing short of a tremendous trade will improve a GM’s stock quite like finding a hidden gem after the draft as an undrafted free agent.

Coaches love to be right about those players, too, so there are always a few players each team passed on seven times who are extremely impressive in training camp.

It’s not that these players are incapable of bearing out, but they rarely do. In 2019, it was Cowboys wide receiver Jon’Vea Johnson. Brandon Coleman did the same for the Saints in 2014. Six-round receiver Theo Jackson has gotten that treatment from the Titans.

Figure out who your gems are and track them. While it’s possible they pan out, it’s a long journey from OTAs to the regular season.

Why is it No. 3?

This one is a bit lower because it is, through a certain lens, a little mean-spirited. There are few things more fun in the NFL than an underdog story, and it’s great to see someone come from out of nowhere and succeed. NFL fans want so badly for this one to be true, and so rarely does it pan out.

Khalil Mack

4. [New acquisition] is right where we want him to be

When you trade or make a splash in free agency for a big name, you expect results. With that in mind, fans are going to be tracking their movements. If there’s even a hint of trouble, you’ll see the fanbase start to panic, or question the GM.

Take Brandon Staley of the Chargers, who played cliche bingo when he said of Khalil Mack on Monday, per The Athletic:

“He’s in really good shape. He’s got a lot of confidence in where he’s at right now. We just want to make sure we phase him in the right way … He could probably go full speed right now, as you guys probably saw. He looks good. But we just want to make sure we phase him in properly. ”

There are also less-ringing endorsements, like Pete Carroll talking about Drew Lock.

“Geno (Smith) really has the package nailed, so I have that to gauge him on,” Carroll said Monday, per NBC Sports. “[Lock is] hanging with Geno throughout all of this. We’re not holding anything back. “

Why is it No. 4?

This quote is nothing more than a coach giving an update on a player and having no idea what to say. Khalil Mack has been around for a long time and he knows how to rush a quarterback. How can you expound on that? This comes in many shapes and sizes, but it doesn’t have the track record of the top two on the list.

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