Are the points important?…no. Are wins and losses important?…no. Do we play too many preseason games?…perhaps. But live action contact football against another NFL team is CRITICAL to the progress of each NFL team in each NFL year. Here’s why?
There is no better evaluative tool for coaches
Sure, coaches are not going to put all their “looks” out on the field in a preseason game. But to gel new vets like Julius Peppers and to get a look at how rookies have assimilated the system requires more that just practices and walk-throughs. Do preseason games put players at risk? Of course. But the only way to truly evaluate a player is to watch him PLAY. That is why the coaches need the preseason games and why the only real question is how many preseason games should there be.
Coach McCarthy will be not just looking at how the solid starters do in the base defense/offense and what potential weaknesses there may be, but he will also be looking for young players to make a case for themselves to make the final 53 man roster.
There is no better evaluative tool of coaches
Coach McCarthy himself said in a press conference that he has to get back in the groove of calling a game after an offseason that involved everything but playing football against another team. The coaches put in their installs, try them, and then evaluate them and tweak them in preparation for the regular season.
Every offseason, coaches evaluate themselves and make changes necessary to put their teams in a position to win. This season in particular, Dom Capers has recast the defense to fit the strengths of the players at hand (which could be a fearsome thought for offenses in my opinion). These changes are only as good as the players who execute them but if fundamental flaws are found, changes must be made before the season begins. The preseason games allow for such changes without getting regular season losses in the process.
Individual players become a team only in live action
When a player is on the field, there is a certain trust that is afforded to each teammate that they will be on their assignments and do what they are supposed to do. Preseason games weed out those that have not learned the playbook, are not mentally ready, or just do not have the physical skills to be counted on. These players will either be cut or developed on the practice squad. Preseason games allow this trust to grow before wins and losses are at risk. The result is a team with integrity, each member of which trusts the other, that can go out and play, not wondering if the backside assignment will be taken care of or if the safety will be their over the top.
It’s risky but critical
So that is why the preseason is critical…risky but critical. Coaches and players alike will learn so much about each other and themselves in this next four weeks and the result will be the correct mix of players on the field for the Green Bay Packers when the season opener against the Seahawks comes around in early September.
So we will watch our Packers take the field starting tomorrow and yes, we will watch with bated breath, hoping that we do not sustain any critical injuries. But the payoff will be a more experienced group of rookies, a group of veterans who are familiar with the new system and each other, and a coaching staff with data to tweak and perfect their installs to put this team in a position to win.
But what do you think? What are your thoughts on the preseason? Let me know what you are looking forward to in the comment section below. And as always…