McDermott prefers keeping it at 4 preseason games

July 22, 2019 - 10:38 pm

Put Sean McDermott down on the "keep it the way it is" side when it comes to the debate over the number of preseason games each NFL teams plays. The Bills head coach sounds like he's open to possibly having a three-game preseason, but made it clear he doesn't think two would be a good idea.

"I honestly think we're at a good number right now," McDermott said about each team playing four exhibition games. "And I say that, part of it is probably habit. As long as I've been in the league it's been four. I think somewhere in that three-to-four range, you should know what you've got and how you want to shape it coming out of those three-to-four games."

Last month, while attending the Jim Kelly Celebrity Golf Tournament in Batavia, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he feels four games is too many both because of the quality of games and time needed to evaluate players. "I feel what we should be doing is always to the highest quality, and I'm not sure preseason games meet that level right now," Goodell said. "I'm not sure, talking with coaches, that four preseason games is necessary any more to get ready for a season to evaluate players, develop players. There are other ways of doing that, and we've had a lot of discussions about that."

One of those ways may be teams participating in joint practices with one another, putting players in more competitive situations against actual opponents. That's something the Bills will be doing this year when they travel to Spartanburg, South Carolina in August to practice with and against the Carolina panthers for two days before the two teams play a preseason game in Charlotte on August 16.

Goodell didn't say an exact number of games he would prefer. His comments were made while the league and NFL Players Association begins preliminary talks on extending the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is set to expire after the 2020 season.

Even with those joint practices, McDermott doesn't believe two games would be enough to evaluate players properly.

"I just think two is, even with that joint practice, I think two would be an awful small sample," McDermott said. "There's a number of guys that make the team off of the fourth preseason game as rookies, and it just takes them time, like undrafted free agents. Sometimes it just takes these guys time, multiple exposures to environment, to game, to the NFL speed, for them to show you the best versions of themselves. You go into that (fourth) game with probably every year, two or three guys that have shown some things but we need to see one more. And then they knock it out in that game, and we go 'yeah, yeah, he's made the case to be on our football team.' Could that happen in three, possibly two? I think that would be awfully hard. You do go into camp sometimes, based off where we just came from (spring practices), that evaluation, and you're saying, 'I think this is how it's going to shape up.' But then when you put pads on it changes sometimes."

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