Jacksonville Jaguars: A critical look at the NFL Preseason
By Kathy Clark
The Jaguars played their first two preseason games without most of their starters. Fans have voiced their opinion about the team’s decision.
Many Jaguars fans are baffled by preseason games. Fans in Duuuval want to see their starters for at least a few plays. After the excitement of the Nick Foles signing in free agency, it was a huge let down to not see him for at least a cameo appearance in the first two games. Some teams have played all their starters for a few series or a quarter. Other teams like the Philadelphia Eagles have held back their superstars like Carson Wentz.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have played very few starters in the first two preseason games. There has to be a better way to find a balance.
"In June, Roger Goodell spoke about the stated the need for four preseason games isn’t necessary, adding, “I feel what we should be doing is always to present the highest quality, and I’m not sure the preseason games meet that level.”"
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He went on to say that there are better ways to evaluate and develop players according to coaches. The NFL has long wanted to reduce the number of meaningless games due to declining fan interest. This could result in a longer regular season. There is an obvious decline in fan interest at TIAA Bank stadium and other NFL venues. Jaguars fans are not attending the games despite the announced number of ticket sales.
It’s a no brainer that teams need to prepare for the regular season and there is no way to simulate the actual game experience. The problem is injuries. The Jaguars were decimated by injuries in 2018 and are keeping starters on the bench so far to avoid the issue. So what do other professional sports do?
Major League Baseball has spring training. It usually takes place in an entirely different area from the home field and baseball fans from different parts of the country can enjoy professional baseball who may not have that experience.
The National Basketball Association teams play exhibition games are not included in the season ticket packages and are also often played in different locations. The NFL preseason games are played on home fields of the teams and the season ticket holders are required to buy tickets at full price to attend these games.
Per Jim Geraghty of the National Review, fans along with national media have expressed their dislike for the system the NFL has in place.
"“Sports talk hosts and callers fume that the NFL has teams play four meaningless games, in which the coaches don’t care who wins or loses and most of the biggest names play sparingly or not at all,” he writes."
Most coaches and players admit that it doesn’t take four preseason games to prepare for the regular season.
Jaguars fans, coaches, sports talk hosts, and sportswriters all complain about the preseason. The game consists of a variety of error-filled plays including missed blocks, dropped passes, penalties, etc. The game also boasts injuries and, as stated many times, MORE injuries than regular-season games. Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee was lost for the 2018 season because of the knee injury he suffered in the final preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons.
So why do NFL teams play four preseason games? First and foremost the reasons are financial. If the team plays one or two fewer preseason games and doesn’t add regular-season games, the stadium vendors such as T-shirt sellers, hot dog vendors, ticket takers, lose a week or two of revenue. In addition, the players and/or owners would have to adjust salaries to compensate players for playing two less preseason or two more regular-season games.
Television would need to adjust revenue of two games being added or subtracted to the league schedule.
Will this ever change? The CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) will expire after the 2020 season. Per many writers and broadcasters, the NFL will look at the possibility of changing the preseason schedule. The thought is to add two games to the regular season, making it an 18 game schedule with only two preseason games and two bye weeks.
It is also possible that nothing will change at all and teams like the Jaguars will continue to practice and play meaningless preseason games with the idea of avoiding injuries to key players. Bottom line is we have the 2020 preseason to “look forward” to and it will be the same as this one. Please let’s start the actual season already.