It’s official–the 2020 NFL season will feature no preseason games.
This news is unsurprising. The NFL was already willing to drop from four games to two, but the NFLPA had been pushing for all of the exhibition games to be dropped.
Despite a lukewarm (at best) fan reception of preseason games, they hold an important purpose for many players and coaches. Rookie players, especially, rely on preseason games to get accustomed to the speed and responsibilities of the NFL. Many teams have new coaches or coordinators and need the extra playtime to adjust to new schemes. Lower end of the roster players are particularly hurt, as not only will they lack a chance to show teams what they can do and create tape, but camp roster sizes are reduced to 80 players (down from 90), making their futures even more uncertain.
This move will hurt every team, some more than others. A small silver lining, however, could be that the Green Bay Packers could be less hurt by this cancellation than other teams.
Obviously, we’d love to see the rookies, roster bubble players, and those returning from IR get the valuable experience they need to be ready for the regular season. And yes, it would be ideal for more playtime in LaFleur’s scheme.
But the Packers are relying on their rookie players less so than many teams. The 2019 Packers were a well-rounded team and weren’t looking to fill two many starting spots. The team drafted for the future rather than looking for immediate impact players. Obviously the team would love to see AJ Dillon tear the league up, but with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, they won’t be in a panic.
The two biggest holes in the roster, right tackle and inside linebacker, were filled with veterans Rick Wagner and Christian Kirksey rather than relying on draft picks. Sure Wagner isn’t Bryan Bulaga, but he’s a lot less likely to let Aaron Rodgers get murdered than a green rookie tackle. Inside linebacker doesn’t have many proven bodies, but that was going to be true regardless.
The Packers also don’t tend to play their veterans much in preseason. Rodgers plays less in the preseason every year, to the point of not playing at all, and LaFleur didn’t risk his stars often in his first year as head coach. For the most part, the core of the team will go into Week 1 with as much playtime as usual.
The virtual offseason was less desirable than a physical one, but it also allowed the players more time to focus on the terminology of LaFleur’s offense. This should have a strong, tangible effect once the pads come on.
Are the changes made to the offseason beneficial to the Packers? No, they aren’t helpful to any team. I even wrote about which players will be particularly hurt by a lack of preseason a few weeks ago. These rules are simply vital precautions to keep players, coaches, and fans safe.
But they may hurt Green Bay less than they would other teams. They aren’t the Cincinnati Bengals, bringing in a brand new star quarterback. They aren’t the New England Patriots, building a brand new offense around a new free-agent quarterback without their former star players. They aren’t the Bears, who suck.
The Packers may start the 2020 season in better shape than most, and, in the NFL, every edge helps.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.