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Is the final score of preseason games important?

Combined practices are good, but they're not money makers


Greg from South Milwaukee, WI

Vic, I love to laugh after preseason losses at people on social media acting as if the season is over.

It's entertainment. That's the approach I take. Coaches, players and even media are performers, and that means we subject ourselves to being critiqued. You better have thick skin.

Matt from Plainfield, IL

Browns vs. Lions: The only reason it was televised was because of Johnny Manziel. The pregame show was about Johnny Manziel. When Brian Hoyer was on the field, they were still talking about Johnny Manziel. He took four snaps before the half and, yet, the halftime show was still about Johnny Manziel. When Johnny Manziel took the field, the announcers said, "Well, it's that time, America," as if the whole country was just holding its breath waiting for Manziel. Why, Vic, why?

Because the moment Manziel was drafted, his Browns jersey, the one he had yet to wear, was one of the top sellers in the league. Blame the media for giving the fans what they want? That's not a rhetorical question. Should the media deny the fans what they want and, instead, give them what they need? Does the media bear that responsibility? By the way, the game to which you are referring set a rating and viewership record for a preseason game televised on NFL Network.

Stef from London, UK

Preseason is all about player evaluation, but how valuable is winning preseason games? For things like morale and confidence? Does it have any importance or not matter at all?

Playing well is the important thing. The final score is the least important fact of the game.

Balint from Budapest, Hungary

Hi, Vic! I'm a relatively new fan to the NFL and I was surprised by how short the training camp and individual practices are. When I was playing water polo, we had three-hour practices twice a day for 10-plus weeks.

You need a WPPA.

Gene from North Fort Myers, FL

Does anyone report on McCarthy's play calling? In the last two years on first down, 90 percent of the time he calls runs. It's time Rodgers calls the plays.

Where did you get that stat? I'm calling you out on that. I took a quick look at Saturday's play-by-play. On the Packers' first drive of the game, they ran the ball on each of four first-down plays, and scored a touchdown. In the rest of the first half, they attempted running plays on only three of nine first-down plays, and didn't score again. Clearly, they should've run the ball more, right? Gene, you're cracking me up on this one. The play calling in a preseason game?

Owen from Portland, OR

I read somewhere the Packers are one of only a few teams to open up the majority of their training camp practices to the public. Is this true? Doesn't this put the team at somewhat of a competitive disadvantage?

Every team I've covered has opened its training camp practices to the public. Maybe the Packers do it for more than most teams, but I don't think there's a competitive disadvantage for doing that, and it's for two reasons: 1) The Packers won't begin practicing the good stuff, the schemes they're going to use in Seattle, until the practices are closed to the public and the media. 2) NFL teams are not permitted to attend other teams' practices, unless admission is charged.

Mike from Harrisburg, PA

This seems to be the second time the NFL has cracked down on defensive backs for physical play after Peyton Manning's team got roughed up in a playoff game, first one being after 2005. Does the NFL just love Peyton or is it coincidence?

The first time was after the 2003 AFC title game. Yes, the NFL loves Peyton Manning.

Don from Weaverville, CA

What are your thoughts on punt returner? I need to be concerned about a position other than inside linebacker.

My thoughts are that Micah Hyde can do it, and if he's not good enough, I know another guy the Packers can use and he's really, really good at it. You must be concerned about all positions at all times. While you're worrying, I'll just sit back and enjoy seeing what transpires.

Justin from Rochester, MN

Vic, when the team has a closed practice like yesterday, I realize they instruct you press guys not to report on anything scheme or personnel-related, but how confident can they be that somebody in that group isn't turning around and selling their secrets to Bill Belichick (or Pete Carroll)? On a related note, are only journalists from the major/reputable press outlets allowed to these practices, and who decides that?

The media that cover this team are esteemed journalists who've moved up the ranks of their profession by proving themselves to be worthy of the bylines they put on their stories. They know the rules. Those were the rules when I started doing this in 1972. Nobody has to instruct me. When I read a question such as this, I am reminded of the huge disconnect between fans and media. This is a profession and the NFL isn't where you start, it's where you finish. I have never known another media person to "sell" out the team he or she covers. I take my job very seriously. The game is a game. My job is a job.

Nathan from Olympia, WA

I was extremely excited for the return of football well before the first preseason game. Then, the first game started and I watched the starters for a short time, got bored and started to clean the house I just moved into. Four games of preseason football have become a form of slow torture. How much longer would you guess before the players agree on shortening the preseason and extending the regular season? Is the potential for more injuries the main focus or is it more pay?

The players made an ethical stand on this subject in the last CBA. They said no to more regular-season games and it was because they're not willing to endure greater physical strain. I was impressed. I thought they'd sell out, but they didn't. Eventually, I believe money will win, but it doesn't appear that time is at hand.

Peter from Madison, WI

The New England/ Washington joint practices drew huge crowds and made me think that something like that could replace one or two preseason games. It would allow coaches to see their best players compete against another team's best while still being able to hold out important players (Rodgers, Nelson, Lacy, etc.) from drills in which they could get hurt. I see something like this in the future, given that the NFL wants a longer season and the players don't. What do you think, Vic?

In the future? It's from the past. We were doing that back in the '80s. I remember going to Washington's camp in Carlisle to cover a combined practice in the morning, followed by a scrimmage in the high school stadium at night. A week later, Washington would come to Latrobe for a combined practice in the morning, followed by a scrimmage in the high school stadium at night. I loved those events. I thought they were better than preseason games because coaches were in complete control of the practices and scrimmages, which meant they were able to hit their targets without having to be concerned about a final score. I would be completely in favor of returning to those practices and scrimmages, and reducing the number of preseason games, but there's a big problem: The combined practices aren't money makers. We go through this every summer. Preseason football is terribly unfulfilling for the fan. The league has largely spent each August ignoring the complaints and waiting for the regular season to begin, at which point the preseason issue goes away for 11 months. At some point, the league will have to tackle this issue head on, and it's going to need the players' help.

John from Sherrard, IL

Vic, I know the fans want to win every game possible, but McCarthy appears to have absolutely no interest in the final score in preseason. Do you agree? Also, the try for two after the second TD seemed very odd. What was the logic there?

Coach McCarthy likes to refer to "targets to hit." That's what's most important to him. He needs to hit those targets to know his team is fully prepared to begin the season. The two-point conversion attempt was merely practice. He said they practice it during practice, so why not practice it during a preseason game? What does that statement tell you? Folks, do yourself a favor and achieve perspective on what's important in the preseason.

James from Ilkley, UK

Didn't even the casual fans enjoy the Seahawks defense last season? "Legion of Boom" seemed like an easy sell and Sherman was great entertainment.

I enjoyed it. I thought the Seahawks were a powerful team last year and I love watching power football teams. I'm disappointed in the league's apparent attempt to target the Seahawks with this new major point of emphasis. I think it's unfair.

Jeff from Minocqua, WI

Vic, Spafford wrote yesterday that Tretter inspired confidence in his debut for the Packers at his new position, but you said Peppers' debut would be the first regular season game. Is that gamesmanship between writers, or do neither of you read the other's articles?

Spafford's story is about a player who has never played in an NFL regular season game. Peppers has played in 186 of them. Please tell me you can understand the difference.

Steve from St. Charles, MO

I thought Jumal Rolle had a good game against the Titans and certainly seemed to be around the ball and in the right place often, but I haven't seen other comments about him. Am I alone in this assessment?

I included mention of him in my game recap story, including a quote from Rolle. He helped himself on Saturday.

Jerry from Wilmington, NC

Vic, at what point does a team give up on a player like Jerel Worthy?

You mean like giving up on Derek Sherrod?

Dustin from Fishers, IN

I don't see how anyone can be upset with what happened on Saturday. The Packers starters all played well and the team came away healthy. I see that as a win and whoever doesn't, just looked at the boxscore.

Worrying is like banging your head against the wall. It hurts, but it feels so good when you stop.

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