Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The preseason

The idea of the 5 week, 4 game preseason is kind of an antiquated notion.  I know the NFL has little (or no) interest in starting the regular season before labor day, so that leaves us with our current format.

So for one week, its practice (or the Hall of Fame "game" if you happen to be playing in it), then you're evaluating players and getting into the flow of a game in week 2.  Week 3 is somewhat meaningful, and then that 4th week is the "significant" and "all important" 3rd preseason game.  The last week is....a waste, though probably not to the players who the 48th-53rd best on the team - that's where they can make the squad.

So, frequently, I make a suggestion that the format needs to change.  Given the desire to (a) not start too early,  (b) to have some kind of NFL activity happening in July, and (c) not to extend the season to 18 games, I wanted to circle around with a suggestion...

Here goes.  The 5 weeks of camp isn't necessarily bad.  But what I would suggest is one week of camp, followed by a week of joint practices with another team, and an "exhibition game" at the end of the week against them.  The following week should be another week of joint practices followed by another "exhibition game" against this team.

The last two weeks should evolve.  Its practices at your facility.  Its player evaluations.  Allow the roster to stand at a greater number for both weeks.  And then you have two truly "preseason football games" against opponents. 

But.

Rather than making it all about evaluation, give a reason for fans to pay to see them, and give the players something to play for.  Make these games count for something (not unlike the baseball allstar game counts for home field in the world series).  The standings or results could be used a tiebreaker.  Or seeding.  Or something that might matter as the season winds down.

So a coach has to decide how much he wants to push his starters, and the second-tier players might respond with great efforts that are worth watching.

And that way the games on this Thursday night - that players just want to walk away healthy from - have a little significance.

You could also tweak the rules for injured reserve so that if a player did get injured they'd have an opportunity to come back during the season.

Of course coaches might rest everyone, and just hope for the best.  But wouldn't it be something to see Brady's backup really get to play *for* something?

The fans get better games.  The NFL gets a longer schedule (sort of), without monkeying with the current format that much.

That's my two cents.
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