Why the NFL Preseason is Laborious and Unwatchable

Our resident analyst Warren Smith weighs in on his thoughts of the NFL Preseason.

Would you watch a sparring exercise between boxers going at 30% effort? Is the thought of watching a snooker player practice one shot over and over again appealing? Would you watch mindless exhibition games between European teams just because it’s at Allegiant Stadium? (Don’t answer that last one) Either way, you spin it, the NFL Preseason is a joke of a phase and should be wiped off the TV schedule altogether.

Not Competitive, Not Interesting

One of the core reasons why these games make for poor viewing is the lack of risk and reward. If the New York Jets win or lose, they’re still terrible. Aaron Rodgers might not even get his hands dirty. While he might play in the last exhibition match against the Giants, given there’s nothing on the line, can he be motivated to do so? It’s this absence of anything to achieve that makes it incredibly unappealing for the best players to get involved. After all, why would they want to get injured before the games that matter?

Training Exercises on Display

The coaches work hard throughout the offseason to ensure that the teams are going to play the style of football that will get W after W. Training exclusively within your ecosystem and echo chamber can only get you so far. The intra-team games can’t offer much competition when you’re all singing from the same hymn sheet. That’s why the NFL Preseason is religiously embedded in to schedule because coaching teams need to see what happens when their ideas take to the field. Riveting. While NFL purists might get a kick out of it to see that new rookie or far-flung cornerback play in a new position, for the most part, there’s nothing to see here other than game-like drilling and consequence-free tactical tinkering.

Probably Not the Best Players on Display

NFL Preseason games are a tool for coaches to help fill the gaps in the positions or stand-in positions for the upcoming year. Coaches already know that their best players, the superstars will be playing in all the games (barring injury). Therefore, lineups for these games can resemble the backburners and academy prospects. When both teams field the B team it can make for a drab affair as neither team can motivate itself to play well against the other. Indeed, a fringe player who desperately wants to be in the coach’s first-team plans could play his heart out to get noticed. However, given the way football is played, it might not work out like that. The young WR might want to play but if the veteran QB who is resigned to second-string status is on the field, he can seldom expect killer plays to showcase his catching abilities.

Remedy for the Preseason

While the preseason serves a purpose for coaching objectives it’s seldom a spectator sport. It feels like a short-changed excuse for live-action. These games should be held behind closed doors, where the players would probably get more out of it as they wouldn’t have the pressure of performing in front of a crowd. It’d also prompt greater discussion between teams if held away from fans.

If teams or the NFL still want to make a hullabaloo about non-regular games then it might be time to introduce a cup tournament or international competition (American Football World Cup reboot maybe?) to stimulate a game or two that is actually worth watching.

There are few ardent traditionalists out there who like things how it is for sure. Scared of change and all. However, even those fans who like preseason for the most part agree that four games of preseason is too many and that could do with just two or three.

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