Preseason? So exciting! Not just because it is a sign that regular season is just a few short weeks around the corner. Now it’s time to see if draft picks are living up to their potential – can they make the transition from college ball to the pros? How are off-season trades and coaching changes going to play out?
Preseason is the time for players to prove how much they want that place on the team. It is the time for the seventh-round-pick running back to try to elude the free-agent safety, regardless of the fact that there might only be 2,500 people in an 80,000-seat stadium. He’s running for his life, and it makes for exciting football.
I can’t get enough of preseason, not only because the third-string guys are playing all-in, but because of the energy in the games. How bad the new guys want it – the intensity from the fringe guys dying for a practice-squad slot – is something great.
I know not everyone feels the way I do about the preseason. There is debate about whether preseason play is worth it: coaches don’t game plan the same, starting players don’t play the entire game, and there are more worries about injuries. But on the other hand, it’s not like offensive linemen protect the quarterback any less just because it’s preseason. If a tackle misses a blocking assignment, and the QB goes down, that could put the entire season in jeopardy.
As for the fact that some of the players aren’t the same, well, to be honest, the regular season faces those problems as well. The team that you face in Week 1 is probably not the same as that team in Week 17, so does it really matter what kind of correlation there is between preseason play and regular season success? Plus, over the season, every team needs to draw from its backups as players get injured. The quality of your backups eventually becomes the quality of your team. Depth is every bit as important as the ability of your first string.
If I’m going to eat any of that, I should go play some football myself. Well… flag football is probably safer considering this is me. I do want to be able to walk away from the game and type again come Monday.