News hit yesterday that while Robert Griffin III has been cleared for practice, we’re unlikely to see him in any preseason action, meaning the first time he steps on the field may be in week one of the regular season.
That got me wondering; how important is preseason action?
Well, that all depends on who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish. For our example, we’ll use RGIII. Coming off of a major knee injury, it’s more useful for the Redskins to keep him out of harm’s way than it is to get him up to full speed on the football field. That also means there will almost certainly be some rust to work off if week one is Griffin’s first action of the season. That won’t be easy either. The Redskins open the season against an Eagles squad that is expected to be much better this season.
Obviously, for seasoned veterans such as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, preseason action isn’t nearly as important as it is for younger quarterbacks such as Griffin. Those guys could work out all the kinks in practice without too much difficulty. That’s why you won’t see those guys on the field for more than a few series in any preseason game.
Preseason games are most important for the fringe players — the guys that might now make the final roster. Yes, real game experience can never hurt players, unless of course players actually get hurt, but coaches are more interested in finding out just what they have on their rosters than seeing their stars play.
Preseason football has never really been about fine-tuning the offense. If it was, we would see first team units play far more often and deeper into these exhibitions than they actually do. The truth of the matter is there’s no way to simulate regular season games. Game plans are far simpler, if they’re used at all, in the preseason, and coaches don’t want to tip their hands heading into the regular season.
So, getting back to the original question of, how important is preseason action? The short and simple answer is, barely. Yes, it would be good for a second year quarterback like RGIII to see some time on the field to get back in the rhythm of game scenarios, but that rust can be worked off quickly in week one. For Griffin, it’s far better to stay on the sideline, getting healthy for real games.
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