To Play Or Not To Play?

August 28th, 2021

“Tom, if you so much as break wind, I want you out of the game tonight.”

Joe always found it disingenuous, to be polite, the way NFL coaches used to scream and wail how they needed X-amount of preseason games or the very earth would crumble beneath our feet.

Yet every level of football outside of the NFL works just fine without exhibition games.

But no, not the NFL. Couldn’t get rid of NFL preseason games. Dudes wouldn’t know how to tackle! Timing would be off!

Last year when The Sickness forced the NFL (thankfully) to cancel all preseason games, the bubble that was the myth that preseason games were absolutely, positively necessary was burst big time.

Add to that penalties were down and scoring was up. Does that sound like a league ruined without worthless football?

Throw in the fact so many coaches say they get more out of controlled scrimmages than preseason games, Joe really doesn’t see what is holding the NFL back from getting rid of the preseason for good.

(If you want to argue revenue, Joe will then counter with having an investment like a quarterback blown up for no good reason. Fun mental exercise: How many millions of dollars has Tom Brady made people in Tampa Bay?)

Joe’s good friend Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders decided to try to tackle this issue: Play players in preseason games or don’t allow them to step on a field until the real bullets fly?

Tanier writes, if it’s good enough for Bill Belicheat, Bucs Super Bowl-winning coach Bucco Bruce Arians and Brady, then it should be good enough for all but Pat Mahomes.

It’s telling that Arians, Bill Belichick, and Andy Reid (plus Brady) see value in preseason playing time. The McVay camp, on the other hand, is full of coaches with wavering convictions. Matt Nagy decided Mitchell Trubisky and his first-team Bears offense were a 100% finished product and didn’t need a single preseason snap back in 2019. He used this preseason straining all credibility in an effort to affirm Andy Dalton as his starter. Nagy will figure out the correct formula one of these years. Just kidding! He’ll be fired in October.

Meanwhile, Chargers coach Brandon Staley, a.k.a. Sean McDefense, has kept Justin Herbert and other significant starters bubble-wrapped throughout the preseason. Herbert was great last year, but I missed the part where he became so dominant and experienced that he needs less preparation than Brady. …

If I were a coach, I’d require any sub-Mahomes-caliber young quarterback to play a handful of preseason quarters. But I would think twice before exposing Brady to a Texans defense which has registered seven preseason sacks and is full of last-chance types who might be tempted to do something foolish to impress Lord Easterby. But Brady and Arians know better than anyone, including nearly all of the other coaches and quarterbacks in the NFL, what they need to get out of a preseason.

Joe will continue to point to last year. No one missed the absence of preseason games, short of possibly the workers and suppliers who fed and watered those in luxury boxes.

Extend the season to 18 games and ditch the preseason. For the love of Greg Schiano.

Yes, Brady will play tonight as well the rest of the starters. Likely for a full half and if they don’t impress Arians, the starters will play into the third quarter.

29 Responses to “To Play Or Not To Play?”

  1. Bird Says:

    Yup. One Half of football w actual starters. Finally some decent football
    Last week was almost unwatchable. Actually turned off in 4th quarter
    They Got to get some gitters out
    We started slow for obvious reason last year.

    Its been camp cupcake so have to get guys in game mode
    It makes me nervous but I am cool with playing half. Brady is a smart guy
    He will throw ball in dirt even more in preseason cause games dont count

    If oline starts off struggling which i doubt they will (texans blow) then pull brady early

    Finally some real football. Not ryan griffin garby football

  2. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    i could buy replacing another preseason with a regular season game ending up wit h 18 & 2….
    I think there is value in the preseason for rookies, practice squad and bubble players…..practice is practice & it’s better against someone other than yourself.

    The fact that penalties were down & scoring was up doesn’t necessarily mean it’s because there was no preseason….It could be a combination of things….officiating, for example.

    You would think that there has been enough opportunity for the NFL to get rid of it by now… why not?

  3. Hawk Says:

    “Yet every level of football outside of the NFL works just fine without exhibition games.”
    You’ve said that (at least) twice in the last week or two, but it’s not exactly accurate, Joe.
    IIRC, up until ‘The Sickness’, high schools had jamborees and colleges would schedule Mary Help of Christian caliber schools, so their players could get some ‘practice’ against other teams. And like the NFL, they charge full price to watch.
    At least the NFL and high schools are being honest about the games not being meaningful to the season.

  4. SB Says:

    Put Trask in with the ones and let’s see what he’s got.
    No need to get Brady hurt.

  5. chris l Says:

    joe – you do miss the point that referees were told to get rid of the flags last year right?

  6. All lives matter Says:

    Since Arians and Licht are bringing back all the starters and many veteran backups that have had at least a year under Arian’s and Bowle’s leadership they feel comfortable with less preseason play. Were there many unsettled position battles like at QB, linemen, and DB’s it might’ve been different.

  7. Joe Says:

    joe – you do miss the point that referees were told to get rid of the flags last year right?

    Did you really watch games last September and think to yourself, “Man, this s@cks donkey balls. I gotta turn the channel. Sure would have rather have watched guys working at Target play while wearing Bucs gear.”

  8. Mike Johnson Says:

    I’d give brady a full qtr of play them pull the plug. A qtr and a half at best. Same with all the starters. A meaningless game is just that. Let the reserves play their heart out.

  9. Stanglassman Says:

    We all know 17 games is a transition to the 18 regular season 2 preseason schedule. That’s the sweet spot especially with the fact that most teams do the intramural practices the last week of training camp.

  10. Leighroy Says:

    Penalties were down in 2020 because of NFL edict to call less penalties. There is zero causality between the lack of preseason last year and penalties being down. Regardless of who’s employees were not wearing Bucs gear in august.

  11. Jason Says:

    Unfortunately NFL teams don’t have the option of scheduling Holy Sisters of the Poor as their first game, so I kinda get it. Just saying.

  12. Jason Says:

    Another thought, but what about doing the preseason as a Pop Warner style jamboree for each division? Make it a weekend event. 1 half of football against each opponent. 2 teams go twice on Saturday, 2 on Sunday. 1 half each on the day you don’t play 2.

  13. Lets Roll Says:

    Why 17 games?
    Is that a good number for the movers and shakers in the NOT FOR LONG league?
    Why change it this year?
    Shouldn’t they play less games in fear of getting themselves sick or hurt, much less the fans?

    Honest Questions.

  14. Jason Says:

    Let’s Roll.
    Honest Answer.

  15. Leighroy Says:

    Agreed Jason. That, and 17 is a stepping stone to 18 games in a few years.

  16. Jason Says:

    Leighroy. Yep. Which means “Mo money! Mo money! Mo money!!”
    Now how dahell do I put a picture in that spot you got Philip Rivers?
    C’mon now. Only a few commenters have figured it out. Share the love dammit! Lol.

  17. Jason Says:

    Maybe Chris at Apple Bottom roofing will teach me. LoL.

  18. Steven007 Says:

    18 + 2 will happen perhaps as soon as next year of the year after. Really not sure why they didn’t go to that this year. Who knows what will happen after that? But I think they like the number 20. Yes obviously for revenue reasons. Would then be interesting to see who played their starters in game 1 versus game 2. I thought our decision to play tonight’s game like we used to play the third preseason game was curious. But hopefully it’s the right decision.

  19. T REX Says:

    We need the live fire practice.

    Our backups are garbage

  20. Sparky Says:

    For everyone saying 18 games is right around the corner. I’m pretty sure they would need a new CBA for that. And considering 17 games only passed because a lot of players didn’t realize they were voting for it, I wouldnt bet on it. It would take a big concession from the owners to get the players on board.

  21. Rod Munch Says:

    Anyone can get hurt on any play, be it in a preseason game or in practice. Scoring was up last year, too much in my opinion — and yes, too much scoring can be a very bad thing. Look at Arena Football, in the early days it was closer to real football with some shootouts, then towards the end it was literally a TD on every series and however had the ball last won, making the rest of the game meaningless. Obviously the NFL is a long way from that, but there can be too much offense.

    As for the schedule, they’re going to 18 games regardless of if people like it or not. But I’m not for killing preseason, a 2 pre / 18 reg schedule with 2 bye weeks is the route I’d go. The preseason is important for young guys who won’t get play otherwise, so there needs to be some solution for that before you kill all preseason games.

  22. mark2001 Says:

    SB…. putting Trask in with the first would be very interesting. Personally, it would be nice to see. But I don’t know Arians wants to. Trask isn’t going to play much until he gets his mechanics and such worked out anyway. And if he looks poorly with the ones, he would be bombarded by the naysayers. So let him play with the twos, get an idea of what it would be to move up and keep growing, and avoid all the controversy. But maybe Bruce sees it differently.

  23. SOEbuc Says:

    Houston having a good defense is exactly why the Brady and offensive starters need to play. Live tackleing. Brady getting live film against a good defense is great for everyone . Live Brady communicating with the offense.

  24. PSL Bob Says:

    SB, I’m with you. Would love to see what Trask can, or can’t, do with the starters. Would be a good measuring stick as to where he is in his development.

  25. JimmyJack Says:

    I could give a crap less if preseason is actually needed or not. In most years the Bucs havent played a game since December…….not meaningful games since Halloween.

    In August Im ready for a little football meaningful or not. Perfer not waiting a extra month.

    Dont mind seeing guys who wont make the team either. Its fun watching them guys and looking to see if any of them can stick out. Enjoy rooting for the guys who got the odds stacked against them. Plus them guys guys hit hard as hell trying to stick out……….Its like watching a couple of nonamers on Friday Night fights. Them guys arent fughting for fame and fortune, they fighting for rent!!

  26. Jeffbuc Says:

    On draft kings it says that no bucs starters are playing tonight. And that’s according to Adam sheffter of ESPN. Do you have direct knowledge that are playing tonight Joe.

  27. Wild Bill Says:

    Got to admit the first two games were not worth watching. Zero. Zilch. But for those long shot players, new draftees, it was huge to them. It may be the only NFL game experience they ever get. So boring it is but useful for many reasons. Definitely boring to watch but a huge event for a rookie with the dream.

  28. Brandon Says:

    Bucs won the Super Bowl without preseason… somebody had to do it. Nobody had a preseason. Try comparing teams that had a preseason to teams that didn’t when you want to argue this point, Joe. Bucs started slow last year… maybe a preseason would have done wonders for them last year. Maybe that opening loss to the Saints would have been a win. Maybe that 7-5 would have been 9-3 minus sloppy Saints and Bears games.

  29. Brandon Says:

    I like and agree with what JimmyJack said as well. Preseason is a nice little warm up for the season for fans too.