The Lass Word: I Miss Preseason Games.....No, Really

Without them, how do we really know if this team is looking good?

All due respect to the gravity and seriousness of the current issues being played out in the sports world.   I offer a bit of lighter fare with this column.

By now we should be buzzing about how well Tim Boyle/Jordan Love looked against the Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns. We should be debating whether Aaron Rodgers should make his preseason debut against the New York Giants this weekend. We should be delighted or disappointed at how someone has or hasn't stepped up to win the number two and three receiver jobs, how the right side of that offensive line has been able to protect the quarterback, who among those inside linebackers looked the best against Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, how many sacks does Rashan Gary have, how many catches does Sternberger have, do A.J. Dillon and Josiah Deguara look like they belong against NFL defenses, is defensive back Josh Jackson as impressive against another team as he has looked in camp?

Alas, in this strangest of all years, we get none of those answers. Instead we must settle for projections made from practice drills.....most of which don't even involve tackling people to the ground.

Yes, I am that guy. The guy who actually misses preseason games. When the NFL cancelled its preseason schedule, the predominant reaction seemed to be good riddance. After all they don't count in the standings, the starters rarely play, the quality of football is poor and, in many cases, the stadiums are empty (Lambeau being an exception).

I don't care.   By August, I'm sick of watching boring baseball and golf.   Auto Racing?   Can't get into it.   Ditto for the NBA and NHL playoffs.   No, I'm with Hank Williams Junior when he cries out "Are you ready for some football?"   I have the date of the Packers first preseason game circled on my calendar.   It doesn't matter if the starters don't play.   How great would it have been to see Jordan Love start and play three quarters against the Cardinals?   To see A.J. Dillon carry the ball 15 times against the Browns?   To see Tim Boyle throwing the deep ball to Reggie Begelton?   To see Kamal Martin rush the opposing quarterbacks?   To see Tim Williams and Ty Summers crashing in to stop the run?   Jake Hanson trying to pass protect?   Maybe even Arod for a series or two threading the needle to Davante?

Yep.   I love preseason games.   I'm the guy who, in the 4th quarter with the score 31 to 3 and both teams playing their UDFA's and nobody able to make a first down, still wants to see if Tipa Galeai can drop into coverage and break up  a pass to a guy who will be on the bus home tomorrow.   Doesn't matter who's on the field.   It's the Green and Gold uniforms.   It's us against them.   We're keeping score.   Let's play football!

 

Don't get me wrong. I truly appreciate the beat writer guys who observe practices and do their best to relate notable plays and developments to us. I hang on their every word and tend to read way too much into their comments. But in the immortal words of that great philosopher Alan Iverson, "Practice? We're talkin' about practice?" I want some meaningful indication as to whether the Pack is going to be any good this year and I just don't think you get much of that from workouts.

The quarterback executes a good looking two minute drill for a score to end the practice. Okay, but does that mean the offense was good or the defense was bad? Would there have been any sacks or would the QB have eluded them? Are the running backs and Oline blocking well or is your tackling just that bad? You just don't know for sure unless you play another team that also wants to win the game.

Regardless of my feelings, the future of the NFL preseason game is looking bleak. Even before the Covid pandemic, the league had decided to drop one of the four in favor of a 17th regular season game. The players union has long been pushing for preseason games to go away and it was their demand this summer that forced the NFL to pull the plug on all of them. You have to wonder if they are gone forever. I'd be okay with that, as long as they are replaced by a longer regular season.

In the mean time, I'll have my popcorn and beverages at my side and be in front of my TV pumped up and ready for the kick-off between the Packers and the Giants in preseason game number three this weekend. Game three is when the starters play for at least the whole first half. It's gonna be great!

Oh.   Wait............

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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Comments (25)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
TarynsEyes's picture

August 27, 2020 at 03:32 pm

How do we know they're good?

The Packers writers tell us they are, so, good they must be.

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nygary's picture

August 27, 2020 at 07:20 pm

Your always so negative tarynfor. You must be so much fun at parties.

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gkarl's picture

August 28, 2020 at 08:01 am

I thought T412 comment was meant to be funny, not trying to be negative.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

August 27, 2020 at 03:32 pm

To be fair, you don't have the answers to your questions after a preseason game or a slate of preseason games either. Teams can look awful in preseason and do great after that. And vice versa. Not playing against starters in preseason. Playing vanilla defenses. They don't tell you anything except how they did in preseason. Not worth it except to help the GM and coaches with depth plans.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

August 27, 2020 at 08:50 pm

TO BE FAAAIIIRRR

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PatrickGB's picture

August 27, 2020 at 03:38 pm

I am with you on that. Preseason games are still football. And I get a glimpse of the players. They get me psyched up for the regular season. The one thing that I won’t miss about preseason games is the injuries.

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GBPDAN1's picture

August 27, 2020 at 08:33 pm

I agree with you 100% PatrickGB.

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PeteK's picture

August 28, 2020 at 07:47 am

Also, the reps young players get against live game action versus an opponent is hard to replicate in practice. However, the colleges don't have preseason games and the progress and calibre of play is very good.

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Johnblood27's picture

August 28, 2020 at 08:47 am

I have never been injured or felt any pain at all in a pre-season game.

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TheBigCheeze's picture

August 27, 2020 at 03:47 pm

Thank you, Ken.....for discussing football only......Cheers....

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Lphill's picture

August 27, 2020 at 03:55 pm

They should have played at least 1 pre season game.

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Archie's picture

August 27, 2020 at 04:06 pm

Preseason games are like women - you can't live with them, you can't live w/o them. Yes, they are fool's gold (the preseason games) but they do help you separate the wheat from the chaff. Glorified practices? Maybe. Is that worth the injuries? Probably not. I have a theory that you rest your starters for first 8 games then try to go 8-0, make the playoffs and win the SB. Simply because you are the healthiest and you have fresh legs.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

August 27, 2020 at 08:52 pm

Nah, preseason games are like foreplay. It's entertaining but you're still wanting the real thing. It just gets you excited for it.

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Stroh's picture

August 28, 2020 at 12:47 am

Much better analogy.

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greengold's picture

August 27, 2020 at 04:09 pm

As a kid, my Dad used to take me to the Shriner Preseason games at County Stadium for my birthday. It was always something I looked forward to. As I grew older I really became a fan of the draft and the personnel side of the game. I'd look forward to seeing players competing for positions, bringing their best in order to make the team.

Moved away and lived in Arizona for 13 years. This was right at the start of the internet. I'll never forget firing up the 14.4 modem and dialing into the first Packers Fan Forum, the JSO. If I'm not mistaken, that's where I met Jersey Al. Reading reports from fans back home meant the world to me. Training Camp reviews, reports by fellow fans of what they saw in practice and in preseason was like pure gold. It was a way to keep myself connected to a sense of home. I made a lot of friends all around the country and around the world on a good number of Packer fan forums as the years passed.

After moving back, it was amazing to actually be able to see Preseason games live again! I often drove up to Green Bay to watch practices, and relay what I had seen to my fellow friends who lived away. Over the decades, I gained a real appreciation for what this meant to players. I was a draft nut before the internet we know today, always diving into the mags to see which players the Packers might select. Preseason carried a different weight through all of that. A ton of great, talented players fighting like crazy for roster spots - leaving it all out there. Everyone, living out their dreams. Man, some of those Mark Murphy hits. I can still hear them.

Koonce. Cullen Jenkins. Tramon. Sam Shields. Paul Coffman. Ed West. Longwell. Johnny Gray. Mark Murphy. Lenny McGill. Travis Williams. Kurt Warner.

Preseason also allowed fans who couldn't afford (18 year old kids) season tickets, or regular season tickets, a chance to see players in person, up close. Man, seeing Lynn Dickey throwing to Lofton AND John Jefferson??? wow!!! What a thrill back then.

The competition was fun as hell to watch. I get it, Ken. Thanks for bringing it up. It was kind of fun to reminisce.

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dobber's picture

August 27, 2020 at 04:11 pm

Thanks for sharing, greengold.

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greengold's picture

August 27, 2020 at 08:18 pm

A pleasure, dobs. A good escape for a moment. Wishing you & yours all the best.

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splitpea1's picture

August 27, 2020 at 04:06 pm

Look at the bright side:

1) We don't need to see Aaron Rodgers in any preseason games, although I'm totally with you on wanting to see the backups.

2) The less we hear Hank Williams, Jr., the ensuing song, dance, and exploding helmets (do they still do that?), the better.

3) No one will be injured or miss an extended period due to injuries sustained in meaningless games.

4) Don't complain: Sixteen or even fourteen NFL games is plenty, and there's nothing wrong with starting the season later so the heat and humidity can taper down. Besides, surely we have interests other than football, right?

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Coldworld's picture

August 27, 2020 at 04:12 pm

I agree, I enjoy the preseason. It’s the time when you get to see if the practice translates to the field. It’s a time for watching the future and back end of the roster and looking at who really digs in and makes plays when an opponent may not do the expected and when plays don’t always go to plan.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

August 27, 2020 at 06:50 pm

I like seeing the low end of the roster get to play. For many of these guys it will be their only chance to play in the NFL. It's the only chance some folks can afford to get to a game at Lambeau. I never understood the complaining about preseason. If your not into it don't watch. It's August, go outside.

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murf7777's picture

August 28, 2020 at 07:56 am

Agree, and better yet take your tv outside with you.

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Packers0808's picture

August 27, 2020 at 09:23 pm

I enjoy all three parts of the season, pre, regular and playoffs. Hope we get 2/3 this year!

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Stroh's picture

August 28, 2020 at 12:40 am

I don't need preseason game to know the team is really good! How do I know? Well its not based on wishful thinking that's for sure.

Start w/ the premium positions of QB, LT, CB and Pass Rushers. Packers have pro bowl level players (at least) and in some cases All Pro players at each of those postions. QB Rodgers among the most talented QB in NFL history w/ a penchant for winning big games and close games if given the chance and Jordan Love and Boyle backing him up. LT they've got Bahktiari a multiple All Pro, not much more need be said.

On Defense they've got pass rushers galore w/ the Smiths, each of whom could have been Pro Bowl calibre and one of which All Pro caliber on the edge. They've got depth on the edge as well w/ Gary and a couple young guys in development. They've got the best NT and a Top 5 interior DL w/ Clark who can provide pass rush. They could use another DL to help Clark and we'll have to see if one of them step up. At CB they probably have the best young duo in the NFL where Alexander is Pro Bowl level and on the verge of All Pro and King who has alot of talent and starting to put his physical tools to use.

Beyond those positions they have emerging talent and some vets that are playmakers in Adams, Jenkins, Jones and Dillon. On Defense King, Savage Gary and a couple others who can easily step into the limlight. They even seem to have ST stabilized for a change.

This team may not be great or a quite ready for SB contender (tho that is possible depending on how a few play this season). Likely to win the NFCN and get a playoff game or 2 and w/ some luck and a few players stepping up could contend for a SB.

I don't need to see preseason games to know these things. Not diminshing the need for some preseason game because they do have alot of usefulness. I just don't need them to tell me whether the Packers are a really really good team. With potential to be better than that.

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Stroh's picture

August 28, 2020 at 12:44 am

Double post.

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