Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, NFL Training Camp last season looked completely different from any other year as there were fewer practices and no preseason games. While the NFL Preseason has often been overlooked not only by the fans, but the coaches and players themselves, the absence of it last year highlighted its importance.
First and foremost, guys were not used to real live speed and contact last year which is exactly what the preseason is for. Jumping into Week 1 of the regular season did not seem to be the wisest decision as players were getting injured a lot more frequently.
Usually, the starters play one or two series per preseason game to go through live reps and feel some hits. While the speed and contact of the regular season is almost impossible to replicate, preseason is the closest thing to it.
The next reason preseason is important is because it allows guys to showcase their talent in a game setting. In practice, players get limited reps with the second/third team players which makes it difficult to evaluate.
Because these guys usually play the majority of the second half of preseason games, they get a good opportunity to showcase their talent to ultimately make the 53 man roster. Without that live action, teams often assume a player’s ability based on limited reps in practice.
The rest is history. 📖
— NFL (@NFL) August 9, 2021
The Importance of 2021 NFL Preseason
The preseason has also shown to be very beneficial to rookies coming into the league. As most NFL players often say, the speed of the game is much different in the pros than it is in college. The preseason is not only a great way to replicate that speed, but it allows them to grasp the playbook even more and put it out on the field.
The more players actually go through the plays especially against another team, the better they will get at it.
Coaches that are dealing with quarterback competitions such as Andy Dalton and Justin Fields in Chicago need to see how both signal-callers perform on the field. There is only so much you can learn about a signal-caller in practice.
In the game, you have a better way of seeing how they command the huddle, read defense pre-snap, and make decisions.
Before last season, the preseason lasted four weeks which was often criticized. In order to keep the fans engaged while giving guys enough live reps, the NFL decided to make the preseason three games which I believe is a great decision.
It will limit the risk of injury before the season even starts while giving rookies and lower-tier players the opportunity to make the roster.
What is interesting is that the NFL added one regular-season game this year as well. It seems like money was the obvious driving force behind this move. Some players have shown some backlash on this decision but as fans, we love it.
The more football, the better.