The 2021 NFL season is less than two weeks away and teams just finished their preseason games.
Since the league stretched the regular season to 17 games, the preseason was condensed to three weeks.
It was the reserves who took the field most of the time in hopes of getting a roster spot.
There were some quality games, but there were blowouts as well.
But regardless of the result, preseason performance is not indicative of how the season will unfold.
The best example of which is the 2008 Detroit Lions who went 4-0 in the preseason but lost all 16 regular season games.
Nine years later, the Cleveland Browns followed the script of having a perfect preseason and winless in the games that mattered.
Aside from tune-up games not being an accurate assessment for the team, it’s weird that starters only play for one sequence or quarter.
They played just to get their rhythm back, especially after a long offseason.
As with any sport, timing is essential in football, and experiencing some snaps is the only way to rediscover that feel again.
However, there’s no merit in letting the starters take limited minutes in the preseason.
Instead, let those games be for those who have something to prove or fight for.
Survival Of The Fittest
Starters should get extra rest through the preseason because they will be going all out during the actual games.
They’ve earned their right to carry the team’s campaign right out of the gates.
However, there are only 22 of them out of around 85 players on the roster.
Therefore, 63 players are still fighting for the remaining 31 slots in the active lineup.
Provide them additional time to make big plays since they are auditioning for the team anyway.
My ballot has been officially cast: Rhamondre Stevenson is your 2021 NFL preseason MVP.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 29, 2021
Maybe it takes time for them to heat up.
But when they do, it could be lights out for the opponent.
If their mentality is to fight for the ball or the tackle in every snap, give them as much time as possible so they won’t end up regretting anything.
Who knows, the team may chance upon someone who can supplant a starter.
If he is better than the projected starter, let him earn it during team practices or the snaps he gets during games.
Give the preseason games to the second or third-team.
They won’t play as much during the regular season or will be relegated to special teams.
Injuries Can Occur Anytime
There is a common belief that preseason action isn’t game speed yet.
The offense plays out slower, and defenses take it easy as well.
But football’s violent nature does not guarantee that injuries won’t happen.
A vicious hit can end a player’s season or career.
Therefore, putting the starters out there even for just one sequence exposes them to injury risks.
All I know is @Jkdobbins22 is one of the toughest guys out there. No matter what it is this is only year 2 of 20
— Zac Hiller (@zachiller) August 28, 2021
Most especially, quarterbacks can experience lights out if the linemen failed to account for a pass-rusher.
Coaches are better off letting their star players stay on the sidelines.
Part of their greatness is their ability to turn on the ignition whenever needed.
Like what Randy Moss said in a sound bite, “I came ready. I came out of the womb, I was ready.”
No doubt that’s the mantra that the best NFL players live by.