Questioning the “Effort” and “Motor” of the Packers’ Nick Perry

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Nick Perry
It's too early to question Nick Perry's effort.

There are several words used by analysts to describe college players entering the NFL draft that drive me crazy.

Examples include:

  • Athletic. What does it mean to be athletic? Shouldn’t all athletes getting paid to play sports be considered athletic?
  • High upside. How many teams draft players because they have little or no upside?
  • Get-off. This is a newer term and it’s just weird. Am I reading about NFL prospects or porn actors?

Perhaps my least favorite words, however, are “effort” and “motor.” I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think effort has to do with how hard you try and motor has something to do with how hard you try throughout an entire play/game/season (I’m not sure about motor. It’s another one of those words, like “athletic,” that people tend to throw out there even though they really don’t know what it means).

Nearly every prospect is judged as either a max-effort guy with a high motor or someone whose effort is questionable with a motor that runs hot and cold.

Look, I get it. We all want players on our favorite teams that give 110 percent so we feel obligated to make judgments about a guy’s effort before he even gets into town. But you have to understand something when reading scouting reports and stories about a player’s effort or motor: Only the really good players get critiqued on effort.

Typically, you don’t see the mediocre linebacker or struggling-to-get-by running back called out for being lazy. Those types of players really don’t stand out in the first place, so it’s tough to tell if they’re dogging it.

The good prospects — players that are good enough to play in the NFL — are held to a different standard. NFL-caliber prospects look more impressive than everyone else. When they’re not dominating or playing at a level we feel they’re capable of, well, then they must have low motors or issues with effort.

Packers first-round pick Nick Perry has had his effort questioned.

From Bob McGinn (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel):

“Perry, who hails from Detroit, didn’t give teams pause from a character standpoint. He just didn’t play hard. In fact, one scout maintained that if (Jerel) Worthy was a 70%-30% player in terms of giving effort, Perry was 30%-70%.”

From the National Football Post:

“Scouts believe Perry could play harder. One called him an underachiever. There are concerns about his conditioning. ‘His get-off can be lethargic,’ one general manager said.”

Not all scouting reports questioned Perry’s effort. Here’s a sample of reports that were impressed with Perry’s effort and motor:

From MockingtheDraft.com:

“I like Nick Perry’s consistent effort. He shows good range and is always making tackles downfield well away from his starting point. It is also encouraging to see him get his hands up on tons of passing plays in which he was unable to get to the quarterback. That shows both effort and awareness on his part.”

From CBSSports.com:

“Works hard to collapse the pocket with a relentless motor.”

From SidelineScouting.com:

“Plays with a good motor, works hard in pursuit, finds the football and has good range.”

So which is it? Does Perry dog it? Is his motor hot or cold? Is he lethargic or explosive?

We don’t know. And we won’t know until we see him play for the Packers. I understand that McGinn is just doing his job and relaying what others are telling him about Perry. McGinn also provides plenty of other insight about Perry beyond just his effort issues, but  I wish the words effort and motor would go away along with athletic, upside and get-off.

Tell me what we know about a player, not what we perceive. And even if we’re relatively sure that a player might have effort issues, let’s remember that these are 21-year-old kids straight out of college. A lot of us probably had effort issues at that point of our lives.

Unless it’s Randy Moss or Albert Haynesworth, we usually don’t judge a player’s “effort” once they’re in the NFL. Players are either good, or they’re bad. They either get the job done, or they don’t.

There’s no reason we shouldn’t use the same criteria to judge a player before he puts on an NFL uniform.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam\\\'s writing on the Packers here.

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  • Ed Schoenfeld

    But Adam,

    If they can’t use words like ‘athletic’, ‘motor’ and ‘get off,’ whatever would the pundits and draftniks write about these young players? They would have to break down film, or something.

    No Fair! You’re making them WORK!

    • Adam Czech

      Or even (gasp!) actually know something about each team’s scheme and how certain players might fit into those schemes.

  • ThomasMagnumPI

    Nice “get off” reference. I think it’s a ridiculous term as well.

  • brauny

    Effort can be a physical matter or it can be a character issue.

    Upside is a way to describe the potential of a player. Typically means that the player is raw or for some reason has not played up to their physical potential. Take UDFA Moss, the WR. This guy has the physical abilities better than some of the 1st round picks. He can do things that a 6′, 195 lb, 4.7 40 guy cant. Thats potential. Can he get to an elite WR status? Doubtful. But the potential is there.

  • FireMMNow

    i agree with some of your points, but saying to get rid of terms like effort, motor and get off make no sense to me.

    effort is pretty clear. there are plenty of really good players who just do not give good effort all the time. it is not that hard to watch film of someone like albert haynesworth and see that he is not giving good effort on every play.

    also get-off is a useful term. if a player has good get-off that means he is explosive off of the ball. i guess scouts and draftniks could write, “Player A, upon the snap of the football, accelerates across the line of scrimmage faster than most other collegiate players of similar size and position.” but does that really tell you more?

    terms like get off, motor and effort are more like acronyms. they tell you what you need to know without writing 24 words for every prospect that does or does not have those qualities. in whatever industry you are in there are terms that seem like cliches that are useful terms that seem to be vague out of the context of that industry.

    • Adam Czech

      Ok. Fine. But come up with a different term for “get-off.” It’s just gross.

      • ThomasMagnumPI

        Explosive first step seems accurate enough.

        I suppose that if I can live with “give him a blow” then I can live with “get off”, but I’m with you on this one, Adam.

      • Tarynfor12

        HMMM….Tebow incognito ?????

        • FireMMNow

          yeah, i would prefer good first step…

  • Ron LC

    Once again, that ass McGinn surfaces his “fairygod scouts.” Why on God’s green earth is anyone paying for Packer Plus with that insignificant jerk as it’s lead reporter.

    Over the years, I’ve learned a lesson. Never, ever waste any concern over the predictions of a sports reporter. They just like to hide their own egotistical opinions from critique. So, they hide behind platitudes when expressing their opinions. See McGinn’s “fairygod scouts” for proof. If Neal is an All-Pro caliber guy this season, he’ll blame his erorr on his “fairygod scouts.” Yes, I despise him and others of his ilk.

    I plan on seeing him play before predicting his so-called failures.

    • Adam Czech

      I knew quoting McGinn would get you fired up, Ron.

      • Ron LC

        Suckered me in again Adam! I’m just to predictable. _That’s what she said.” :)

  • Big T

    Maybe use words like “thrust”, “firmness”, “penetration”, “climax speed” instead of “get off”

    • Chad Toporski

      “He’s got a good thrust at the get-off, with a nice firmness in penetrating the hole. Hits climax speed quickly.”

      Okay, back to being an adult now…

      • FireMMNow

        Al’s website just came up on a whole bunch of new internet searches.

        • Adam Czech

          Yup. Don’t be surprised if you see a Jenna Jameson video posted tomorrow to try and capitalize on our new audience.

      • Mojo

        Chad you could throw another currently in vogue term in there somewhere – “juice” – and I think it would fit.

        I think the reason scouts worry about effort so much is because they’ve all seen highly talented players over time that just didn’t live up to their potential. It must be one of the more frustrating things for a talent evaluator of recommend a player based on his physical advantages and then later wonder why he never performed.

      • Steve Cheez

        Great, now the site is blocked at work!

  • Shawn

    I liked what I read(or heard, can’t remember) from one reporter about Perry that the appearance of him taking plays off was more a factor of him letting his pad level get too high and in effect getting blocked easily. He was still putting in effort but could not shed the block. So his problem is one of technique not effort. A few weeks of training should be able to fix at least some of that.

  • PackersRS

    “Tell me what we know about a player, not what we perceive.”

    But isn’t that exactly the scout’s job? To relay his perception about the player?

    If not, why would there be scouts? Excluding the personal opinion, you’re left with measurables and stats.

    • Adam Czech

      I don’t have a problem with scouts using these terms. Every profession has its own language and acronyms.

      I can’t stand it when the media falls back on the same old tired terms to try and inform us about college players followed by some sort of judgment about a guy’s effort. It’s lazy and cliche.

      If the journalist is simply relaying information from a scout, and the scout tells the journalist that player A lacks effort, ask why. Does he skip practices? Does he not hustle downfield? Does he not slack in the weight room?

      I know in this day and age few people have time for context or extended analysis, but I still think we can do better, even in condensed spaces, than just spewing the same lines about a guy’s upside, motor and athleticism.

      • PackersRS

        Oh, then I agree completely.

        Let’s be real here, most of these sites just copy and paste what’s written somewhere else… Then end up copying each other.

        That’s why I loved what you guys did this draft, bringing serious evaluation made by professionals that you don’t get anywhere else.

        • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

          why thank you!

  • Ron LC

    Still waiting for “it is what it is.”

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