This philosophical/psycho-therapy concept comes to mind as we end the preseason and look to opening day.
In a nutshell it refers, in this context, to the idea that it's not just the talent and skill level of the individual players and how well they execute their positions but how that execution operates as a whole. In philosophical terms, the whole becomes a separate entity formed by the synergy of the individual actions.
I guess the simplest way to put this and the most widely understood cliche would be to say football is a team sport. We can add a superstar here or there (Revis, Nicks, Jackson Goldson) but their overall impact will be greatly influenced by the synergy that either forms or doesn't form among the rest of the players. We speak of Revis Island but Darelle Revis isn't going to win us any game purely on his above average talents at shutting down opponent's #1 receivers.
What we just saw during preseason has raised a lot of questions about this team and especially Josh Freeman. I've been as guilty as anyone for reading too much bitterness into the proverbial tea leaves. I say this because we really haven't seen the WHOLE yet. We haven't seen how Revis will effect the secondary protection. His addition to the field will have to be accounted for by opposing DC's. We haven't seen Doug Martin even get enough snaps to break a sweat a yet. We haven't seen Nicks in the OL giving Freeman the time he needs. What we saw was an incomplete picture.
The WHOLE hasn't even come into play yet. Because it's not just about how the individual play of the players sums up to make a whole. It's how those players both play and react to plays for an ENTIRE 60 minutes. Thinking back to the 2010 season we saw many examples of what I call sin and redemption. For example, Cody Grimm, I believe in his first start against Pittsburgh, gave up a pass play for an easy TD. Next game he picked off the QB for a quick pick six. We saw that kind of thing from many players that year.
I guess the point I'm making here is we need to see these guys play with their complete team for a complete game before we can judge the whole. Both pride and the desire to win at the end of sixty minutes will become more of a motivation once the bullets start flying and they actually count. By that I mean the desire to get that W for the day creates a special motivation to dig deep and pull out their best effort. Freeman didn't get the Comeback Kid nickname without reason. We've seen him play mediocre to just plain bad for three quarters and then pull it out in the fourth. That's what I call sin and redemption.
I'm no Pollyanna. The questions raised by what we saw this past month are legitimate and have been discussed thoroughly on this website. I started out thinking we had a real good shot at a wild card spot just based on the potential we saw 'on paper'. What we witnessed on turf made me back off my optimism just a bit. But, to be fair we really haven't seen the WHOLE function for a complete game yet. Add to that we have 16 games to see what these guys, including the coaches, are really made of. Is it a championship caliber team yet? Will injuries to key starters derail whatever momentum we build up as we go along? The preseason results may suggest a rocky road ahead. But the wild card or X factor is how does this group of men respond for a full sixty minutes. We haven't seen the WHOLE picture yet.