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Cory's Corner: Does the preseason matter?

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Cory's Corner: Does the preseason matter?

This Packers preseason has been the epitome of vanilla.

The majority of key players haven’t seen much of the field. Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Corey Linsley, Jeff Janis, Morgan Burnett, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Jake Ryan have either been injured or have been healthy scratches for the majority of the preseason.

You could take this two ways.

First, you could say that general manager Ted Thompson has assembled a mass amount of talent and they don’t need seasoning in the preseason. We all saw what happened to Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in Seattle. His back appeared to fold up like an accordion, but the team is saying that nothing is seriously wrong.

Losing a key cog to injury in the preseason is a nightmare that all NFL teams live with each August. And the Packers saw firsthand the crippling effects of losing one of those guys when Nelson went down with an ACL tear in the second preseason game last year.

Then, you could say that the NFL is an evolving business and all the practice and playing time is invaluable. You cannot mimic things like game speed, or the changes that happen to a player when the pads come on. Case in point is rookie wideout Trevor Davis. He lit Green Bay on fire with his speed and catching ability early on in camp, but ever since the pads came on, he hasn’t been the same player.

With Linsley sidelined with hamstring issues, JC Tretter needed to play which ultimately sealed his fate as the starting center. How much trust would the coaching staff and players have in Eddie Lacy if he opted to sit out the preseason?

Or how difficult is it to gauge wide receivers that are fighting for a job when Rodgers only played two series — his lightest workload since 2008 — and threw nine passes, in the preseason? Is it fair to criticize the wideouts when Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams have been throwing the majority of balls?

Those are tough questions that only coach Mike McCarthy and Thompson can answer, but Rodgers always got short with the media in camp whenever questions about playing time surfaced.   

Obviously most players want to play and get some work in. That’s where the coaches step in and protect the players from themselves.

But then there is another twist into this preseason equation. If NFL teams are going to force-feed season ticket holders into buying preseason tickets, should teams play its starters more?

Frankly, I don’t like the preseason. I’d rather see teams have scrimmages open to the public. And if the NFL wants to add a game or two from a trimmed preseason, that would make sense.  

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (28) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bedrock's picture

As the trend of asset protection continues, will the pendulum swing so far that some teams begin to buck the trend and play the starters more in an effort to sneak an early season win? It is getting crazy how few starters actually see playing time. How far will the trend go? What will cause it to turn?

The TKstinator's picture

Preseason game tickets should cost markedly less than regular season game tickets.
LeRoy Butler recently said that preseason games are not played at "game speed", which calls their value further into question.
A team like GB has a relatively small number of players fighting for a roster spot. But it wasn't TOO long ago that the Packers were using preseason games to determine who would start at QB: Don Majkowski? Randy Wright? I think most of us would prefer the current state of affairs.

Tarynfor12's picture

Everything matters if taken in the proper context. New players need to have time with vets to get an evaluation that either confirms or detracts from the evaluation vs other new players. This also allows a more pressing evaluation of the decline of veterans with their play ability and retaining older and over rated/paid players.
Other than Rodgers, Matthews, Peppers, Cobb, Daniels and Nelson, who do you truly believe needs no preseason play to prove they deserve a position.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Does the Preseason matter?

*shows clip of Cook running into the QB causing a fumble*

RobinsonDavis's picture

Thank you for the honest, open, if not highly controversial article, Cory. I am in total agreement with you except the expanding the season and less preseason games. If you are a player vying for a roster spot, you want the opportunity - as you stated in your article. And, I hate injuries as much as anybody, but the game simply has risks and players a need for real game experience.

As evidence of more game time needed, we see the folowing:

Currently, we do not know how well or consistently our linebackers will cover wheel and deep seam routes, let alone, one on one in the flat (a problem last year)- but we definitely have improved on speed & awareness; We see lot of sloppy penalties, We saw the 1st offense struggle and Rodgers obviously could not hit his first and second reads at times, probably because the receivers were not open. But then, we see signs of separation, through effort and play design...Thank you Randall Cobb!

On the positive:
We see a young quarterback's confidence growing; defensive players who can play 1st string if called upon; a free-agent TE who appears to be everything advertised (and perhaps more); a 4th round MLB taking advantage of the opporutunity presented and likely securing a starting postion; a free agent safety, likely playing himself into a roster spot.

All of this would not happen without having the opportunity for game play.

4thand10's picture

I feel pre season games are very important for draft and develop teams. I have noticed the back up Oline has dominated the other teams back up defenses and I'm taking that as a very good sign. I have not seen that in quite some time. On Trevor Davis...he has been overthrown several times and gets very good separation. He also has made sound decisions on special teams. This last game, I saw the respect the 49rs had given to his speed by playing 10 yards off him....and he still got behind the DB. IDK, we'll see, I think he has good potential. Montgomery also showed what he can do on returns. Each time one of them gets the return it has the potential to go all the way. We have not seen that for awhile either. I do agree and carrying 55 rather than 53 and given the long season and preseason maybe an increase on practice squad size as well.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"And if the NFL wants to add a game or two from a trimmed preseason, that would make sense."

Not to the veteran players. Right now they get paid to play a quarter and watch the bottom of the roster fight for a spot. Why would they want to put thier bodies on the line for maybe a little extra money and definately nothing close to two more games worth?

Bohj's picture

Cory, I think you may be looking at the preseason from the fan's and veteran's point of view a little too much. The allure isn't for it to mimick the NFL product. It is to give guys that maybe have a slim chance of getting discovered to get some game film. There is really only five maybe six roster spots that they are fighting for. But more tape gives these guys practice squad opportunity. More tape gives these guys a job somewhere else. More tape gives these guys a call when half of our linebacking Corp is decimated. The playcalling is vanilla by design. We're trying to isolate guys in space to see if they're NFL ready. A CB on a receiver. A LB filling the hole. An OT neutralizing a pass rush. It may not matter to you or me or veterans whether there is 4 or 2 preseason games. But it means the world and dreams to all of the young guys.

croatpackfan's picture

In every sport all athletes needs some real time practice. To rise themselves to the level of competitiveness on which they can won "the battle" whatever those battles are.
It was always like that and it will always be like that. If you cut down or stop completely preseason games, you get rush of injuries in first weeks of season. Because athletes will have prepared their body for extreme efforts, but not for extreme battles. Simple as that. If you are not balanced, you'll be out...

al bundy's picture

Good question. First my one sentiment is they should only do 2 pre season games due to all the injuries but allow more practice time and contact in practice.
I think pre season is vital for the coaches. You need to evaluate game time performance to determine who can and cant play.
The usual starters can play somewhat to get into football shape but its about the others who need to play.

Amanofthenorth's picture

Preseason football is interesting as hell Just seeing how Callahan improved before our eyes is drama enough. No regular season games in August. Uggh. No extra games in January brrr.

If the NFL wants to add a little drama, make preseason records the fourth or fifth tiebreaker for playoffs.

4thand1's picture

Never gonna happen.

TommyG's picture

I like seeing the second team players go in a real game scenario. I hate seeing starters injured during a game that means nothing. All of sport has these games. Friendlies, preseason, or whatever you might call them, and they serve as a way to get less experienced players a chance to compete. Would I mind the preseason going away all together? No, I wouldn't mind that at all. But at the end of the day a season ending injury does just that regardless if it is preseason or snap one of game one. Injuries just suck.

RobinsonDavis's picture

Speaking of injuries, I count no less than 12 player inuries that will impact the roster pending their status. Some of these players will not be able to play next game. How do you gauge the severity of a hamstring injury if it is not a complete rupture?

Nick Perry's picture

Yes the games are meaningless and players vital to a teams success get injured but teams like Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati, still build their teams the old fashioned way, through the draft. The Packers especially have benefited from the UDFA or late round draft choices more than others because they DO give them a chance and you can't do that without the preseason.

It's always the "Stars" of the NFL in most cases making a point for fewer preseason games and why wouldn't they? They're set and in most cases have NOTHING to prove. Would Sam Shield, Tramon Williams, Chris Bango or others been able to prove they belong without the preseason? Doubtful.

Judging by the first series of the Packers/49ers game Rodgers could have used more preseason work. In the first series I saw EXACTLY the same thing from Rodgers I saw last year. Moving in the pocket when he didn't need to, missing Lacy in the flat when he was wide open. Thankfully he looked much better in the 2nd series but I'm a little concerned about Rodgers lack of work ( 9 pass attempts ) Last season Rodgers worked less in the Preseason than any year in the past and he started out on fire the first 3 games especially. Hopefully the running game, new schemes to get WR open, and a brand new shinny TE will carry them until Jordy is Jordy again.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

While I agree with your post, Nick, I can't help but wonder whether MM really agrees. Seems like he thinks practices and scrimmages, particularly scrimmages with another team, would be adequate.

Nick Perry's picture

I think you're right about that. McCarthy doesn't want to expose his starters especially for a chance for injury. The one thing that has me a little concerned is Rodgers lack of play. 2 series just seems like it's not enough but it wouldn't surprise me a bit if Rodgers comes out and tears it up either.

This was an interesting read I thought. I'm sure you saw it but in the event you didn't check it out...

http://www.packersnews.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2016/08/27/unsettled...

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Thanks Nick. I really don't think AR played very well. Thought he got happy feet again for inadequate reasons, passes were inaccurate, and I thought he missed wide open receivers (See the link below - Ben Fennell is a guy you should be tied into). Maybe AR deliberately threw to Davis to see what would happen rather than to the wide open Cobb, IDK.

https://twitter.com/BenFennell_NFL/status/770061121

Since '61's picture

Preseason is meaningless in terms of wins and losses, but it is important in terms of player evaluation. Personally, I believe there should be 2 preseason games with more scrimmages and more practices allowed during the preseason. The problem with the preseason games are the injuries which occur and reduce the quality of the regular season product which has already declined enough. A team like the Packers probably utilizes the preseason more than many teams since they provide their UDFAs a legit chance to make the team. This leads to another by-product of the preseason which is the practice squad. Teams like the Packers who actually invest and develop their PS players should be allowed to protect their PS players from poaching for at least part of the season, maybe 6-8 games. This would at least give the team a chance to get some return on their investment. As for expanding the rosters to 55+ the owners will never pay more players unless the regular season is expanded but the players association is firmly entrenched to hold the schedule to 16 games. The next CBA negotiations should be very interesting. Time will tell. Thanks, Since '61

PETER MAIZ's picture

I just read an article critical of the Packers for not having incredible game changers on the team (besides Rodgers). According to the writer, not having sufficient game changers in the starter squad, has cost the Packers the super bowl. I understand the philosophy of "draft and develop".
But what do you do when some of your UFA's show incredible talent but the team can't keep them from lack of room on the 53 man roster? When Seattle and Arizona, and other teams have loads of "game changer" type talent and the Packers don't, there always seems to be unmet expectations.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I think GB does lack game changers, especially on D. We have Daniels, CM3, and we hope Dix and Peppers. If Shields could catch INTs, he'd be one too. On offense, we have AR, Nelson, Sitton and Lang to the extent OGs can be game changers. We are hoping for Cook, Cobb and Lacy to qualify.

PaulRosik's picture

Every team tries to get incredible playmakers at every position and with every pick. The fact that over the past 10 years only one team has won the Super Bowl twice shows that this is not an easy thing to do and all the top teams are pretty much equal at it.

Go to the AcmePackingcompany site and read the hilariously accurate article about the widespread "contagion" of prime wasting that has gone on in the NFL. The Patriots "wasted" 10 years of Brady's career without a team good enough to win a bowl, the Steelers got a young Big Ben two of em and then have "wasted" his prime after that, Sure fire HOFers like Brees and Rodgers have only got one ring and all their other seasons "wasted". We should get the NIH to find a cure for this rampant disease of the NFL. Or maybe we could just admit that winning a Super Bowl is difficult.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Read it already. The articles to which acme responded were incredibly dumb. Here's the comment I made:

So sad: A perfectly valid (IMO) or at least defensible argument is made but mangled by others, then subjected to ridicule.
I believe that a decent argument that TT is not maximizing AR’s prime (the best at the most important position) can be made. But having friends like The Guardian doesn’t help. And yes, after looking at the company I am in, I still think I can make that argument.
by Thegreatreynoldo on Aug 18, 2016 | 1:28 AM reply flag

http://www.acmepackingcompany.com/2016/8/17/12527906/nfl-teams-are-wasti...

Packer Pete's picture

Absolutely the Pre Season matters, when you run a Draft & Develop strategy like the Packers these 4 games are a necessary evil on evaluating young talent. Practice and scrimmage just arent enough to go on, you need as close to actual game experience as you can get to see how these players handle the limelight. Its subpar NFL action, but there is no getting around it, if I were the NFLPA I would fight any changes tooth and nail...

4thand1's picture

Injuries are going to happen. They get magnified when a player gets hurt in pre season. It's all part of training camp, every team suffers injuries. All the teams are evaluating talent and these young guys are not going half speed. They would sell their souls to make a roster. The NFL with its billions in profits could easily expand teams' rosters.

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

I see Ed Williams has been released, not really a surprise with that.

Allan Murphy's picture

YES IT DOES..............................................

Allan Murphy's picture

YES IT DOES..............................................

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