Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones is making news this week by repeating something he has said before: shorten the tedious NFL preseason from four games to two but add two more games in the regular season.
“I hated the preseason,” said former Cowboys defensive tackle Tony Casillas. “I think everyone would echo that thought.”
However, some current Cowboys say a four-game preseason can be helpful for coaches evaluating their teams and for fringe players who are trying to make a team.
“It’s huge for our youngsters who don’t get as many reps as us in camp,” said Cowboys offensive guard Zack Martin. “It’s a big opportunity for them to show us or other teams what they can do.”
Perhaps the biggest talking point to debate the preseason involves the odds of having more injuries.
“It’s probably physically better for players (to add regular season games) than this longer preseason,” said Jones on 105.3 The Fan.
But experts disagree with Jones’ assertion that a longer regular season would improve player safety.
“If (Jerry Jones’ comment) isn’t the biggest pile of bullarky I’ve ever heard, it’s pretty darn close,” said Football Outsiders staff writer Zachary Binney.
Binney has studied injuries in the NFL for years. He says the likeliest time to get injured is at the start of the regular season, when players are getting back in playing shape. So if you replace a preseason game with a regular season game, injuries worsen.
“You always see a higher risk of injury in the preseason not because it’s the preseason but because it’s early before these guys are in midseason form,” said Binney.
No matter the likelihood of injury, Tony Casillas believes there’s pride in at least giving it all when the games count.
“At least get injured when the season in meaningful,” said Casillas. “You have these preseason games where it doesn’t really matter.”
There was a time in the NFL when there were 14 regular season games and 6 preseason games. It always added up to 10 road contests. And assuming the owners continue to have their way, the number of home games will always add up to at least 10.