From the NFL’s perspective, things couldn’t have gone worse Thursday.
The Eagles-Ravens preseason game in Philadelphia ended early because of lightning, Panthers star quarterback Cam Newton was injured and the Raiders’ game against the Packers in Winnipeg was on a field shortened to 80 yards* because of a hole in the end zone. The Packers sat most of their starters.
*Ironically, the Canadian Football League plays on a 110-yard field
The Star’s Vahe Gregorian wrote last week after the Chiefs-Steelers game, which featured Patrick Mahomes in two series and started late because of lightning, that the preseason is too long.
Others are joining that call. Here is what people were saying after Thursday’s woes.
Mike Jones of USA Today wrote a column with the headline, “NFL preseason: As coaches choose safety over game reps, it’s time for NFL to cut preseason slate.”
Here is part of what Jones wrote: “NFL teams don’t need preseason play to prepare for the regular season. Last season, Rams coach Sean McVay showed it was possible to sit his starters the entire preseason and still start fast during the regular season and play at a high level throughout the year. Now, more teams have begun to follow suit.
“Under the joint-practice setup, the scheduled home team typically hosts the opponent of their upcoming exhibition matchup for a couple days of practice so their starters get meaningful reps against unfamiliar players and schemes. The backups get the exhibition game action.
“These practices offer a safer and more controlled environment than a preseason game.”
ESPN’s Don Van Natta joked that if the NFL secretly set out to prove the preseason was too long, it succeeded Thursday:
Matt Bonesteel of the Washington Post wrote a story with the headline, “Everything that’s wrong with the NFL preseason, in one night.”
This is an excerpt: “Injuries. Bad fields. Lousy weather. None of these issues is new when it comes to the preseason. Neither is the lone reason to keep it at four games: NFL owners don’t want to lose the revenue they get from tickets, concessions and selling local TV rights. But the players are adamant about not trading two preseason games for two added regular season games. There was some optimism earlier in the week about the possibility of expanding the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams — thus adding two postseason games to the schedule — in exchange for cutting the preseason to three games, but the owners probably aren’t going to regard that as a fair trade as the long slog toward a new CBA continues (the current deal expires after the 2020 season).
“So we’re in store for at least one more year of the preseason in its current form. Great.”
Richard Deitsch of the Athletic ripped the NFL for the 80-yard field in Canada:
Warren Sharp, who has two NFL analytic sites, also had harsh words for the NFL: