There's something to be said about the tactics NFL teams use during the week leading up to a big game. Conventionally, teams use the media to advance a calculated campaign of misinformation about formations, schemes, and injuries.
No team is more (in)famous for this than Bill Belichick's New England Patriots. He uses the injury report to mask which personnel he had available on a day-by-day basis, which on its face seems relatively innocuous. After all, if Tom Brady is questionable with a shoulder injury, that means his shoulder is bothering him. That's it...right?
Wrong. Players on the injury report have an inherent chance to miss the game, meaning that opposing teams need to devote time and effort scouting their backups. With one or two players, this might not be a big deal, but when the injury report goes into the double digits, there's an awful lot of extra unnecessary information going through the coaching staff and players' heads. Information that can interfere with tidbits of actually useful information that might mean the difference between a positive and a negative outcome on a big play.
Now, this is a roundabout way of leading into this story: according to PFT, Bears TE Desmond Clark Tweeted the following:
"88 will be on the field Sunday. Here we go 88 fandom!!! Let’s get it on."
For the uninformed, Desmond Clark has been inactive for the majority of Chicago's games, due to a combination of diminished skills, increased age, and gameplans that call for extra receivers instead of tight ends. Somehow, someone informed Clark that he would in fact be active on Sunday, thus prompting the Tweet.
Here's my issue with the story: did Clark, in his excitement to finally be able to play again, ruin an attempt of subversion by the Chicago Bears? After all, game-day inactives are announced on game day. Clark knows this well, unfortunately. But by leaking the news a day ahead of time, he could have given Green Bay's coaches more time to gameplan around his presence.
Think of it this way: Chicago coordinator Mike Martz doesn't like to use tight ends in the passing game. The presence of Greg Olsen has forced him to change his approach, since Olsen can both block and catch passes. The fact that Olsen has the fewest catches (41) of his career is immaterial; Olsen proved he can be useful in Martz's offense last week against Seattle.
But, since Olsen can do everything Martz needs, that left Clark on the wayside. Clark's best trait at this point of his career is blocking, which is largely the reason for his inactive status over the second half of the season. But he's going to be active tomorrow, which means that when he plays, there's a strong likelihood that he will be blocking on any particular play. Which would be helpful, considering the strength of Green Bay's pass rush and the ability of their linebackers and defensive backs to play solid run support.
Had this news been released tomorrow morning, it could have thrown a wrench in Dom Capers' best laid plans. But getting released on Saturday morning gives him an extra day to figure out what he's going to do when Desmond Clark is on the field. That could be the difference in tomorrows game. Maybe, maybe not.
But my question to you is this: without social media, this story wouldn't even be a story, and Clark's game-day status would have been a mystery until tomorrow. Did Twitter (and subsequently, Clark's lack of discipline on Twitter) let the cat out of the bag?