NFL Preseason Games: The National Football League faces the potential of two games this year, a radical departure from the four-season schedule they are used to.
Last week, Tom Pelissero reported that NFL and NFL players are discussing the shortening of the 2020 season. A halving of the season will allow for a longer acceleration period, giving players time to prepare physically to participate in a training camp and games coming from an unusually reduced period because of the epidemic of COVID-19.
Two-game preseason raises questions like: How many teams should you start in the first place? Should player Joe Burrow take some preseason snapshots? How about Tom Brady, who will be 43 in August? How do teams like Chicago hold a quarter-finals contest?
This is where the NFL (National Football League) preseason games can learn a lot from the Canadian Football League, which has played a two-game season for years. I recently spoke to two former NFL coaches who also have extensive CFL experience on how NFL teams deal with this change, provided the League and NFLPA come to an agreement. Here is what I collected:
Pre-season will favor the experienced teams. With the massive elimination of pre-season game events, call cards can be limited early in an attempt to avoid mysterious skilled players and new players in low-exposure plans. Organizations with new players in skill positions, especially midfielders, are more likely to focus on playing run games and screens early in the regular season, allowing the game to evolve over time, while teams with strong continuity starting in 2019, They would be better off to post their full game plans earlier.
How might practices be? Practices are likely to involve more situational strategies, stealing time for individual and basic periods. Expect less live climbs, with more rounds during 11 to 11 sessions and more mock drill exercises.
How will teams deal with playing time in the season? One of the sources said that their starters didn't play in the CFL season, except for the offensive streak, which was getting used to playing together. Maintaining the health of your best players in the opening game of this season was more important than getting them to take a few replays. It is not unlikely that a seasoned midfielder will play in the one-quarter of the game in CFL preseason, but it is doubtful how much really helps. For junior midfielders such as Bengals' Burrow, if they know enough about the system, they can play to cope with the speed of the NFL preseason games.
Mid-fielders development and competitions. There is limited time to evaluate backups, which you see most of the time played in the NFL preseason games. Removing two valuable action matches on the field may harm teams with small QBs. Look at Dwayne Haskins in Washington. He had eight quarters of NFL pre-season action last year to learn as a beginner before finally taking up the initial job in the middle of the regular season. Imagine how hard things Haskins would have faced had he played in just four quarters in the NFL preseason games, giving him less time to develop before being pushed into action in the regular season. Or consider Aaron Rodgers, who had three years of four NFL preseason games to prepare before replacing Brett Favre as Green Bay's QB1. He was well trained and had time to develop.
Quarterback competitions will be determined by what coaches see in practice and in NFL pre-season games. This will not change. The most important QBs are likely to divide playing time in both games NFL preseason games, as each QB gets the same starting. Beyond that, what will ultimately help determine who gets the starting job will be more competitive situations (including in full scrimmages and simulated games) that will be recorded in practice.
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