ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Matthew Stafford can understand it all, everything New York Jets rookie Sam Darnold might be going through this week. Because the veteran quarterback has been there, and he understands all the expectations and ups and downs that could come.
In 2009, Stafford was Darnold — opening his rookie season as a highly touted quarterback on the road against an opponent with a veteran defense and a top quarterback. That opponent was New Orleans with Drew Brees. And the Saints ended that season by beating Indianapolis in the Super Bowl.
Stafford watched Darnold play at USC. Watched him play during the preseason. Likes his arm. Thinks Darnold is “a talented kid.” But like any rookie, Stafford said, you don’t know what you don’t know because college is way different than the NFL.
“Listen, this game is about experience,” Stafford said. “This league is about experience. You know, he played at a high level in college against some high-level competition. He’s gotten some under his belt in the preseason and he’s a talented guy.
“He can make a bunch of plays not only with his arm but with his feet. We’ve seen it more and more recently, these young guys coming in and playing at a really high level.”
Stafford and Darnold weren’t in the exact same situation. Darnold has more talent around him in New York than Stafford did coming off the Lions’ 0-16 season in 2008. But the issues he faced in 2009 will be similar to what Darnold will face this week against Detroit and for the first part of this season.
Stafford’s first game as a pro didn’t turn out too well, either. He completed 16 of 37 passes for 205 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. He was sacked once and had a passer rating of 27.4 — the worst of his career.
“All of it is tough. We weren’t a great football team at that point,” Stafford said. “We were rebuilding in a lot of areas. I was not by any means, and still am not, a finished product. You know, learning on the fly against some great competition, but that’s what it’s all about.”
So Darnold will start in Detroit. Against Stafford. On Monday Night Football. And the Lions, like the Saints did to a rookie 10 years ago, will hope to give the Jets’ starter plenty more to learn.
DETROIT — The images were far too familiar. Matthew Stafford dropping back, seeing his offensive line accordion in front of him.
When he was on the sidelines, he saw his defense do exactly the opposite: Allow his quarterbacking counterparts to get all the time they needed to find an open man and complete a pass. Or have a running back have an easy lane to run through.
This was a theme of 2017 for the Lions – lack of protection for Stafford and lack of pressure on opponents. And it was among the things Detroit supposedly had fixed heading into this season, particularly the bit about keeping Stafford upright. Yet in the second preseason game, none of that really happened.
Stafford, when he was in for three series, was sacked twice. All night, Detroit’s running backs had little to no room to run. Giants backup quarterback Davis Webb had enough time to complete 14 of 20 passes and not get sacked. And New York’s top two running backs – neither of whom was super rookie Saquon Barkley – averaged over 5 yards per carry.
If all of this sounds like a repetition of past years, well …
Yes, it is still early. Preseason being preseason, everything should be viewed with the caveats of the lack of game-planning and nuanced play-calling along with players themselves getting into shape and fewer reps to find a rhythm. But as many veterans know and what has played out year over year is this: Early can get late in the NFL faster than any player or coach would like. So a performance like this, preseason be darned, is reason for concern heading into when games really count three weeks from now.
This isn’t a judge of the final score of either preseason game. It’s more that when the starters were in, nothing looked particularly good other than a play here or there. The players and Matt Patricia said all the things you figured they’d say after a game like Friday – they have to get better, it’s still early, it’s preseason. But there was also some acknowledgement of, well, how rough it looked.
“It’s disheartening to see us not perfect our technique. It’s disheartening to see us not execute what we’ve been executing all week,” defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois said. “It’s disheartening not to see certain things that you sit in a building from morning till night going over and then when you get on the field you don’t see it done.
“Like I said, we got two more weeks and [Saturday] is the first day to start correcting these situations and start correcting to stop that run. Because if you don’t stop the run you have a lot of great NFL teams in the league that have good running backs and O-lines that can just move that ball whenever they choose to.”
Every area had issues. Matt Prater missed a field goal. TJ Jones had a drop that led to an interception. The Lions looked discombobulated and at points without any sort of energy.
Had Stafford and the starters played an entire game it’s possible things would have looked different. But based on the small sample size, the Lions look far away from the team they need to be to have success this year. Patricia acknowledged as much, calling what the Lions have to do a “big job in front of us” and that his team didn’t play well at any position.
There’s no denying any of that. It looked like it live. The tape essentially confirmed it. And while yes, it is early, if the Lions don’t get things fixed over the next two weeks things could be really problematic once games start counting in September.
“We have to come together as a group,” Jean Francois said. “The coaches can talk until they’re blue in the face. We have to come together as a team and we have to show Matt Patricia that we can master everything that he asks us to do.
“Because if we don’t, it’s going to be a long season and we ain’t trying to have a long season around here.”
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Kenny Golladay will lean back ever so slightly in the Detroit Lions’ meeting room and begin to speak. In front of him is an explanation of something they were going to work on or had just completed, and Golladay just isn’t quite sure of it.
So the second-year wide receiver takes his massive frame, pushes back and asks the receiver behind him a question. And Marvin Jones Jr. almost always has the answer.
“He’ll ask me a lot of different things,” Jones said. “Sometimes a play or sometimes what should I have done right there or what would you have done. Stuff like that. Whatever question pops in his mind, he asks.
“He wants to be that guy that’s dominant and stuff like that, and you see it transfer on the field.”
Dominance has been a big word in Golladay’s lexicon so far this training camp. While often choosing not to talk with the media, he did say in a rare-for-this-year interview that his plan was to “dominate every day and that’s just what I’m looking forward to.”
That’s come intermittently — but his presence is noticed. The Lions’ tallest receiver at 6-foot-4, Detroit selected him in the third round last year in part because of his jumping ability, catch radius and knack for grabbing the ball at its highest point. Combined with his speed for a bigger receiver, it made him a tantalizing early threat — something enhanced by his two touchdowns in both the preseason and regular-season openers in 2017.
Then he went quiet for most of the year, in part due to a hamstring injury that cost him five games of his rookie year. But the potential was intriguing. Then he started lining up on the outside during training camp opposite Jones with Golden Tate in the slot and had flashes of dominance again.
It’s reason to think he could be a massive key to Detroit’s offense this fall. Among receivers with 20 or more receptions last season, Jones was first in the league with 18.05 yards per catch. Golladay was fifth at 17.04 yards.
Having the two of them on the field at the same time with Tate, the NFL’s yards-after-catch leader among receivers last season, forms a dynamic combination most teams in the league don’t have.
“It is trouble for the defense,” tight end Michael Roberts said. “It’s so many options on both sides of the ball. If you put the two of them on the same side, it’s even more trouble. It’s just a well-balanced offense.
“You saw what we did, drafted a running back, brought in LeGarrette [Blount], took an O-lineman in the first round (center Frank Ragnow) so that’s obviously speaking to our run game, and that’s what they want — they want to run it. So it’s just becoming a very balanced offense and it’ll show soon.”
It’s also one that has the big-play capability because of Jones and Golladay — but specifically Golladay. With the three receivers on the field at the same time, teams will struggle where to shade a safety or straight up double a player. Focus too much on the short game with Tate and Theo Riddick and both Golladay and Jones win one-on-one matchups with corners. Focus on the deep threats and it leaves Tate and Riddick underneath to move the ball.
“Everything,” Golladay said, “works in together.”
Golladay becomes a bigger option, too, with the departure of tight end Eric Ebron. Golladay has the height (6-foot-4) of Ebron with better jumping ability. He also could siphon some of the targets that went to Ebron since the tight end combination of Roberts and Luke Willson is unlikely to garner the attention Ebron did last year. This could lead him to be the breakout player on a veteran offense with multiple pass-catchers at every position.
It helps, too, that Golladay grasps the game better than he did a year ago. He understands how to face longer corners and how important the details are to turn him from a receiver with potential into one of the better ones in the NFL.
“He’s understanding the game,” cornerback Nevin Lawson said. “He’s understanding where he needs to be. I can tell he’s focused.”
That’s on the field, where it’s shown through his play and his numerous grabs over Detroit’s defensive backs in the red zone and out of it. Then off the field, in the meeting rooms, he’s focused more, too.
And there, where he’s still learning, all he has to do is turn around to find the answers. Because sitting there is Jones. And that’s been a help, as he’s learning new parts of the offense under a different head coach.
“Just understanding the full concept of what we’re doing, which he’s learning, which has been good so far. Just really being consistent with all of that information,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “It’s one thing to kind of come in as a young player, learn a specific role, be consistent with just that information.
“But now once you expand the information, to make sure that is continually improved upon as that goes through.”
Every week during the preseason, we’ll be taking some of your questions for a Detroit Lions mailbag. To ask a question for a future Mailbag, use the hashtag #LionsMailbag on Twitter or email email@example.com.
Now, on to this week’s questions.
#LionsMailbag Do you feel a difference with Patricia? Just look at Miles Killabrew.. We sent Van Noy who had no were to play in our system to thrive in Patricia’s System.. I feel the same thing is happenining With Killabrew.. Instead of getting rid of someone.. Find what suits.
Michael, there’s definitely a difference with Matt Patricia instead of Jim Caldwell. Practices are more intense. There’s more running. The pacing is different and, obviously, the defensive scheme is different. Every coach is going to bring his own philosophy and that has been obvious.
As far as specifically Miles Killebrew, I don’t think what Patricia is doing with him is that much different than what Teryl Austin tried to do with him. Austin attempted to put Killebrew in the best position, which was a sub-package player who was essentially a hybrid linebacker/safety. It seems like that’s what Detroit is looking at Killebrew as again. The difference this year is that Killebrew – in my opinion – hasn’t looked quite as good. Now there’s a long way to go between now and the regular season, but the combination of adding Tracy Walker as a third-round pick as well as the flexibility of Quandre Diggs and the re-signing of Tavon Wilson has put Killebrew in a tough spot, roster-wise. It’s why I’ve consistently mentioned him as a possible trade target. That would only increase if this coaching staff believes in Charles Washington as much as the last staff did, particularly on special teams.
But Detroit is trying to put Killebrew in a bunch of different spots right now to see which one, if any, fits best. The Lions did this with a lot of players in the past; Austin happened to be quite good at that. Don’t think the comparison to Kyle Van Noy is accurate because Van Noy was always going to be a player who was better in a 3-4 system – something obvious in New England. If Van Noy was still a Lion now, I think he would have found a role in this defense.
Do you believe that the Lions could potentially trade for Mack? #lionsmailbag
On the face of it, it seems insane, Ben, but with every day Khalil Mack doesn’t report to camp and if the Raiders really believe they can’t sign him, it could be possible that Oakland would try to make a deal. First the logistics on that. For any team to trade for Mack, it have to be convinced it could sign him to a long-term deal. Unlike Major League Baseball and the NBA, NFL general managers and head coaches hoard draft picks like the rarest of diamonds. And if I’m the Raiders – again, this is me being the Raiders – I’m asking for a reasonable amount of draft picks for Mack. So there’s that. I also would do everything I could, if I were the Raiders, to try and retain Mack.
With that being said, if I’m Bob Quinn, I’m at least poking around while I’m in Napa, California, this week to see what it would take to trade for the star pass-rusher. There’s no question Detroit needs pass-rush help, and the team’s top pass-rusher, Ezekiel Ansah, is playing on the franchise tag, has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career and turns 30 next year. Trading for Mack – depending on what it would cost – would give Patricia an elite pass-rusher and give Detroit’s talented secondary an established pass-rusher to create havoc. Do I think it would happen? No, I don’t. But if I’m Quinn I’m at least asking about it just in case.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Matt Patricia had players lay down on the ground, offense on one side, defense on the other. At the whistle, they popped back up and the offensive player — the ball carrier — then had to try to beat the defensive player one-on-one.
On the first padded day of Detroit Lions practice Sunday, they ran a modified version of the Oklahoma drill — just one example of the physicality and intensity under Patricia, the first-year Lions head coach, who is trying to change the culture of a team that hasn’t won a division title since 1993.
To do so, Patricia said at some point the Lions will tackle to the ground — a stark difference from former coach Jim Caldwell, who rarely had live tackling during practices. Patricia does want to keep his players upright for the most part, but he recognizes there are times that tackling has to happen.
Just to be prepared.
“At some point you have to go live. You have to be able to experience that both offensively and defensively because you don’t want to do it for the first time in a game,” Patricia said. “You have to be able to get in good position. There’s certainly a manner in which we can practice in pads where we can thud each other up and be in a good hit position and know that from the strike standpoint everything is clean and we’re in good space but then not really follow through or try to finish at that exact moment.
“But at some point you have to transition into the finish and be able to make sure you understand what that feels like and that we’re doing it the right way.”
It led to Patricia calling Sunday “the most exciting day of the year,” because it’s the first time his team is able to put on pads and actually have more consistent contact. It’s also the first time he had a team under his control in pads for the first time.
Patricia said while working in pads is something that is made a big deal of, he believes players should always want to play in pads for both protection and to get used to it since they’ll be wearing full pads during games. It also forces players to get to another conditioning level because of some restrictions pads place on players.
The potential for more tackling and contact is just one area where Patricia has changed Lions practices. Detroit does more running under Patricia than it did under Caldwell — including running laps for mistakes made in practice, something the defense had to do at least once Sunday.
On Friday, Patricia opened his first training camp practice by working on goal-line strategy because of the importance Patricia places on it in games. The Lions offensively struggled in goal-line and short-yardage situations in 2017, something general manager Bob Quinn said after the draft bothered him during Caldwell’s final season.
Now, as the pads go on, they can work on that even more. The players noticed an increased energy having pads on as well. The linemen can hit. The players move just a little faster. For the third straight day, practice ran at least two hours.
“It’s definitely physical and that’s what we want to be, a physical team,” receiver Marvin Jones said. “So we’re out here working hard and the most dominant team wins every Sunday, so that’s what we have to be and that’s how we practice.
Detroit Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah will not be getting a long-term deal before the deadline today at 4 p.m. ET, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Ansah will play the 2018 season on the franchise tag, which will pay him a guaranteed $17.1 million.
Ansah, 29, finished last season with 12 sacks but was still plagued by inconsistency. He had three sacks against the Giants in Week 2, then went the next 10 games with a total of three sacks, then racked up six sacks in the final two games of the season against the Bengals and Packers.
Injuries have also been a major concern during Ansah’s career. He missed almost all of training camp and preseason last year with knee and back injuries and they persisted throughout the regular season. In 2016, Ansah was limited by a high ankle sprain for the majority of the season and only recorded two sacks.
2015 was Ansah’s best season by far, his third year in the league. He generated 14.5 sacks and earned second team All-Pro honors and a trip to the Pro Bowl.
The Lions aren’t sure if Ansah can stay healthy enough over the course of a long-term contract to warrant extending him. Ansah believes he’s one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL and deserves to be paid like one. That’s why a deal couldn’t be done. Ansah and the team cannot negotiate a new deal until after the season ends once they pass the 4 p.m. deadline.
The Lions also have to look at their cap situation as a whole when evaluating the offer they might make to Ansah. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has a $26.5 million cap hit and the team invested heavily in the offensive line last offseason. Wide receiver Golden Tate is due for a contract extension as well, and he’s been one of the most productive wideouts in the NFL since he signed with the Lions in 2014.
If Ansah can stay healthy and be a consistent force on the edge, then the Lions will be happy to pay him top dollar. But he has to prove it first.
Will the Minnesota Vikings defend their NFC North crown in 2018, and which teams from the division will make the playoffs? Our division reporters make their predictions:
Courtney Cronin, Minnesota Vikings reporter: Packers. Green Bay will halt the Vikings’ attempt for a second straight division title and capture the NFC North in Aaron Rodgers‘ season of redemption. Green Bay made a ton of changes to its coaching staff and drafted cornerbacks with its first two picks to combat a passing league. They also have two of the league’s top red-zone targets, Jimmy Graham and Davante Adams, and added three receivers in the draft. The entire division got better this offseason, including Minnesota stealing the spotlight by signing Kirk Cousins. Still, the Packers and Vikings will be the only two teams to make the playoffs from the North. Chicago and Detroit are improved but probably still a year away from reaching the postseason.
Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Packers reporter: Vikings. This looks like a two-playoff-team division if the Vikings and Packers live up to expectations. The Week 2 game between the two teams at Lambeau Field will give one of them an early leg up in the division and could shape the way things go the rest of the way. At this point, though, the Vikings look like the more complete team thanks to a strong defense, an improving offense and stability off the field in the coaching and personnel departments.
Jeff Dickerson, Chicago Bearsreporter: The Minnesota Vikings. But I also have the Green Bay Packers making the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Vikings are the easy choice to win the NFC North after they reached the NFC Championship Game last year and then signed quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency. I also fully expect Aaron Rodgers to have an MVP-type season after he missed nine games last year due to injury. I’m not sure what to make of the Lions under Matt Patricia. And Chicago — under new head coach Matt Nagy — is an improved team, but I don’t anticipate the Bears qualifying for the postseason.
Michael Rothstein, Detroit Lions reporter: Vikings. Rodgers is back and automatically makes the Packers one of the top teams in the NFC, but Minnesota might be the top team in the conference other than Philadelphia and maybe Los Angeles. The Vikings improved from last season, added Kirk Cousins, get Dalvin Cook back from injury and have the division’s top defense, so they win the division again. The Packers also make the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Lions end up close but a tough schedule at the beginning and end of the season keeps them out of the playoffs for the second straight year.
DETROIT — Darryl Rogers, who coached Michigan State to a share of the Big Ten title in 1978 and later took the helm for the Detroit Lions, has died. He was 83.
The Lions said Rogers’ family confirmed his death Wednesday.
Rogers coached Michigan State from 1976 to 1979, going 24-18-2. The 1978 team, which included star flanker Kirk Gibson, won its final seven games to finish tied for first in the conference.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Darryl Rogers and his family at this most difficult time,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said in a statement. “Coach Rogers won the 1978 Big Ten championship at Michigan State and was, in many ways, an offensive pioneer in college football. I was honored to have had the opportunity to talk to him a number of times throughout my time here and he was always very supportive. He loved Michigan State and will forever be a Spartan.”
Rogers also coached at Arizona State from 1980 to ’84 before heading to the NFL. He was with the Lions from 1985 to ’88.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Darryl,” Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford said. “On behalf of me, my family and the entire Detroit Lions organization, I would like to extend our sincere sympathy to his wife, Marsha, and the Rogers family.”
Rogers played wide receiver and defensive back at Fresno State and became the coach there in 1966. He also coached San Jose State from 1973 to 1975 before taking over at Michigan State.
A previous investor had fallen through. Ray Reyes, a restaurateur based in Norman, Oklahoma, searched for another partner. Ryan Broyles, meanwhile, had been looking for another opportunity.
Broyles read Reyes’ proposal for a restaurant overlooking the University of Oklahoma campus, understood the market and jumped in. At the time, Reyes didn’t know the type of investor he was getting in The Porch.
Broyles worked hard rehabbing from injuries his entire time with the Detroit Lions. He knew how to make his money last, living on $60,000 per year during his career so he could have funds following football. He was smart and shrewd, and he wanted to work. When Reyes saw Broyles jumping in alongside the workers they hired to construct the restaurant, he knew he had something different.
“He’s a hands-on guy, likes to be right in the middle of things,” Reyes said. “Likes to really expand his knowledge base. He talks about his real estate investments and then gets in there and starts demo-ing tile and putting in toilets, doing things of that nature. He’s kind of a renaissance man.”
This has been post-football life for Broyles — who left Oklahoma as the FBS’ all-time leader in receptions (349, a mark that since has been broken) — following an NFL career that began as a 2012 second-round pick by the Detroit Lions.
Football never worked out, with injuries continually derailing Broyles’ chances to be consistently productive before his release during the 2015 preseason.
Broyles already had begun plotting his future, even if he wasn’t totally ready to leave the NFL behind. When Broyles was at Oklahoma, a mentor, Rachel Welcher, spoke to him about options for his money if he reached the NFL. She explained different ventures.
One stuck: real estate.
“When you get some money, you’ve got to put it somewhere,” Broyles said. “So 2012, the first time I bought a house, even when I was in the league, I was buying property. But I never thought that I would own a property-management company. Never thought at some point I would be raising money to build buildings and apartments. Once football wasn’t in my future, it was kind of an easy transition for me.
“I’m like, ‘You know what? This is something I’ve already established. I want to continue to build that way.’ Obviously, you have a lot of successful investors who love real estate, so I wanted to go all-in in that aspect.”
Between solo and joint ownership, Broyles and his wife, Mary Beth, have approximately 40 rental properties in Oklahoma and Texas, with rents ranging from $600 to $3,000 per month. They started a property-management company, Infinite Rentals, which Welcher helps manage.
Broyles also started flipping houses, but the self-described “hoarder” prefers to hold properties for future investment and equity unless the value is too good.
Not that he ever anticipated his life going quite like this when he left Oklahoma. Broyles was cut by the Lions after injuries throughout his three-year career in Detroit stunted his ability and forced him to reevaluate his NFL future. He spent the 2015 season working out four days a week at the Michael Johnson Performance center in Dallas, waiting for a phone call for a tryout or a chance to re-enter the league.
That call never came. Broyles went to Oklahoma’s pro day the following spring. He had a tryout with Jacksonville that went nowhere. Not wanting to be a guy who hung on just to hang on, he moved on.
The 2015 season, during which Broyles’ football future turned into his past, taught him that he never again wanted to be in a position where he didn’t know what was coming next. He says now that during the 2015 season, even his wife didn’t know there was part of him that was struggling with it.
“Just the mental strain of being on the fence,” Broyles said. “A lot of people my first year were like, ‘Are you going to give it another shot?’ I’m like, ‘Heck yeah, I’m going to give it another shot, but it’s not up to me. Somebody’s going to have to give me a call.’ So having that communication with my family and friends and really not giving them any concrete answers.
“Then you have the naysayers, who are saying he’s never going to play again, and being the competitor that I am, I’m going to give it a shot, so I’m going to work hard at it. But obviously, if a call doesn’t come, like it didn’t, I felt comfortable because I knew what my next step was, and it was going to be in real estate.”
The idea came from Welcher years before. Welcher first met Broyles in her special-education class at Norman High School, when he came in to work with students. She saw how he interacted with special-needs kids and suggested he work at the YMCA summer camp while he was at Oklahoma, after getting it approved by the university.
That was more than a decade ago. Welcher had by then started to do her research, too. She knew the percentage of athletes who ended up broke. She heard Broyles talk about wanting to reach the NFL.
She began repeating the same message: You want to live to be 100 years old? Your money has to last. She’d grown up around commercial real estate, invested on her own, and began advising and making suggestions. She says he didn’t listen then.
Broyles bought his first investment home in Tulsa in 2012, a property he recently sold. He eventually bought three properties with Welcher during his Lions tenure, all based in Oklahoma.
“It was just stuff we did over the phone. It just became like a drug. We gotta do more, gotta do more, gotta do more,” Welcher said. “And then he bought a house in Dallas, and he was like, ‘I love this house, but I want to move back to Oklahoma.’
“I told him, ‘You know what? That’s going to be your next rental.’ He’s like, ‘So I’m going to keep my house in Dallas?’ I’m like, ‘Yep.’ That thing has turned out great.”
It was the start of Broyles’ real estate career, one he’s still pursuing 40-plus properties later. He branched out to restaurant co-ownership last year, too. But there’s still always a connection to sports. He describes The Porch as a “4-iron” away from the school’s football stadium. And he’s compared his new world of real estate to his old one of memorizing X’s and O’s, of drilling route combinations and route trees.
When he finishes a transaction, Welcher said, Broyles compares it to scoring a touchdown. He still sticks to a budget, though it’s more than his $60,000 NFL plan, because he has a son, Sebastian, and is doing well in real estate. Plus, he has a handle on what he’s doing with his long-term future. He’s a real estate and restaurant investor. He’s a father. A husband. A mentor to those who might want to follow in his path.
He learned something else along the way, too, something that helped him partner with Welcher and Reyes and some other people in his real estate ventures — something he didn’t always understand in the NFL.
“When you’re playing in the NFL, you’re speaking with like-minded people, you’re in a locker room. You’re hanging with high-net-worth people,” Broyles said. “I always kept the people that weren’t in my world away, but now that I’m in the real world, I need people. I need relationships. I need bankers. I need mentors.
“So that’s really been a jump-start for me. I think a lot of people, when they leave the game, they may not realize their full potential until they actually have to use it.”