Update: I'm not sure why there are some font oddities here. I can't change them for some reason.
So, the draft ended yesterday and the dust is beginning to settle. In the wake of personnel move dating all the way back to free agency, there was a a flurry of discussion on this and other blogs. Most discussions were civil, insightful, and fun to read, however there were a number that turned nasty really quickly. Those negative turns were usually the result of people simply making silly or overly hyperbolic arguments. I get that we are all passionate about our team, but when discussing this (and every!) off season, it's important to keep some things in mind. With that said, here's my suggestion for a list of various things we should and shouldn't do when critiquing personnel moves.
- Read the entirety of someone's point before responding. We've all been guilty of stopping halfway through a lengthy comment to respond to a particularly egregious comment. The problem is, every now and then the poster goes on to qualify or otherwise temper the argument later on in the post.
- Support your arguments with evidence. None of us expect our peers here to delve into tape on every player the Colts sign, draft, or release, but it's important that we provide reasoning with our arguments. There've been a ton of posts that simply say "you're dumb" or "you're wrong, this guy rules/sucks!". Explain why you think someone is wrong.
- Take time to think about your critique before posting it. I'm probably the world's guiltiest person when it comes to this point. When I don't like a draft pick, FA signing, or player release, I jump to conclusions faster than Brandon Weeden will lose his starting job (Zing!). After making a critique (whether positive or negative), about an hour later I revisit it and realize I passed judgement far too quickly. A good example of this is my recent post about losing faith in Grigson in the wake of drafting Khaled Holmes. I still think we probably should have taken Patton, but I'm not nearly as upset about it as I was when I posted. After doing my homework, I totally understand the choice, even if I disagree with it.
- Be welcoming to new, inexperienced posters. In the wake of major moves, it always seems someone we haven't seen much before pops up to make a particularly long comment or a new FanPost. Many times these posts have blatant errors (I know my first few posts definitely did. And then several posts after that did. And then the rest did. Basically I'm saying don't read my FanPosts.). If this is the first time you're hearing from this member, don't be so harsh in the comments. If you disagree and think they are wrong, point that out, but be sure to extend a welcoming hand at the end. Active members are the lifeblood of this community, and we shouldn't scare new ones off.
- Mischaracterize someone's argument. This happens a lot on here, and I'm definitely guilty of it. For instance, saying that the Colts should have drafted Quinton Patton instead of Hugh Thornton is not the same as saying Hugh Thornton was a bad pick. Additionally, saying that Khaled Holmes doesn't project to be a starter is not the same as saying Khaled Holmes will be a bad player.
- Make overly sweeping comments. We've ALL done this, whether we're supporting a move or being critical of it. Comments like "this player will definitely be terrible" or "this player is going to lock down the position for the next 10 years" are worthless. We simply don't know how the player is going to work in the system. However....
- Pretend that a given player has never played football before. Yes, FA signings and draft picks have never worn a Colts uniform or played a down in Indianapolis, but that doesn't mean they haven't played a boat load of football. Regardless of the fact that a player hasn't played for the Colts, there is usually a wealth of tape on a player on which to base projections. For instance, it would be a mistake to say Erik Walden is definitely going to be cut after the first season, but it would be equally wrong to respond to someone saying he projects as a back up by saying "DOOD LET HIM PLAY A DOWN BEFORE JUDGING HIM!!!!1".
- Use the argument that "well that's why Grigson is the GM and you are not." Yes, we get it, none of us are NFL GMs and usually they have access to WAY more information than we are. However, NFL GMs have been really, really wrong in the past and so they are not above criticism.
- Appeal to what other GMs have done. This goes both ways. Often big reaches are justified by saying "yeah well x team also had them rated highly." Without explaining why that might be, you haven't actually addressed the argument that a given player wasn't worth that high of a selection. The same applies for the argument that the Colts were justified in not making a selection because a bunch of other GMs passed on that player. Again, GMs have been really wrong in the past. This is also a logical fallacy; it's called an appeal to the majority.
So those are my suggestions. I really, really hope this didn't come across as condescending. I cannot stress enough that I've done almost all of these, and I don't mean to imply that I haven't.
What suggestions do you guys have?