Bracing for the worst, we thankfully avoided a graphic injury to Odell Beckham Jr in a week 2 preseason game between Beckham’s Giants and the Cleveland Browns. Naturally as expected, fans of the G-Men were up in arms freaking out saying it was a dirty hit and why the hell are we even playing these games.
Odell Beckham Jr. suffers a sprained ankle on this dirty hit. pic.twitter.com/ayZAm9pIDb
— Dylan (@DylansFreshTake) August 22, 2017
While the hit is debatably dirty and probably could have been avoided, this once again sparked up conversation for the red herring of injured starters in meaningless games. I think it’s time to reasonably consider the number of NFL preseason games, or at least how many times the starters will see the field.
It’s the age old question of rest vs. rust. You need to get your players some reps against other competition or else they’ll get ice cold for week 1. At the same time though personnel seems to drop like flies due to injury all the time now just at practice, let alone a game.
Another facet you have to consider is getting 3rd and 4th string guys playing time so they can prove themselves, some will always clamor for the these guys “fighting for their job.” We all love those stories, like a Riley Bullough on Hard Knocks this year, but Bullough isn’t the reason the Bucs will be winning games this season. The love for him goes out the window if god forbid Jameis Winston goes down.
— Cliff Welch (@clifffoto01) August 19, 2017
Balancing that all out and letting the lower guys get their chance, I would propose a couple of these changes. My choice would be for eliminating 2 preseason games, letting the starters play 1 or 2 quarters in each of them, with the backups grabbing the rest of the time.
To give the starters enough practice time, the NFL could sanction more joint practices with other teams. This way they can still get the required reps they need to be in game shape week 1, and they get the benefit of competing against someone else not from there own team.
4 preseason games is too many. We all like it so much week 1 because we get that fix of football that’s been missing for a few months. After week 1 though, unless your team has an exciting rookie, there’s not much attention paid until preseason week 3, when the starters play 3 quarters.
This 2 game system gets you the best of both, a football fix just 2 weeks later than the opening original start, and the chance to see everyone still play. Think about it, the largest attention noticing moment this entire preseason was the quarterback play of guys like Mitch Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes (the rookie factor) and the injury to Beckham. No one wants to experience the scare of an injury to a superstar, so lets just avoid it all together.
Another TD for Patrick Mahomes pic.twitter.com/uFiwg1NTuN
— Sports World (@OurSportsWorld) August 20, 2017
If it’s staying at the 4 game system, though this may never happen, it would be great if somehow the league could mandate the amount of playing time for the starters, such as limit them to a certain amount of games or quarters played.
Players get hurt all the time, why not try to prevent this as much as we can? All we do is preach player safety, this would seem to echo that sentiment. I get we all want the most football we can find, but I’d rather wait another 2 weeks for a healthy team than view a crappy product because a guy went extra hard in the preseason.
In summation, lets save the starters for when it counts the most. We don’t need another Mike Vick preseason broken leg situation lingering on us. Odell came out lucky with only an ankle sprain because many were thinking way worse. I don’t care largely enough for preseason, lets skip to the real thing.
Matthew Matera is a contributing writer for gmbsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @matty4_matera2, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your Google network