Analysis: Broncos and Wilson could pay to shut out preseason
The Denver Broncos haven’t circled their opener on their schedule even though it’s Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle.
If they had highlighted their $296 million man’s return to the city where he spent a decade, bringing the Seahawks their only Super Bowl title, the Broncos wouldn’t have kept him on the sidelines with their other starters. in pre-season.
“That’s what I’ve been doing for the last three years,” said new Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who was trained in the sit-’em philosophy by Packers coach Matt LaFleur, who copied Rams coach Sean McVay’s doctrine, which has been done since 2018.
McVay is 51-23, including 7-2 in the playoffs, since playing down the preseason and keeping his starters out until September. He is also the defending Super Bowl champion.
The Packers held off Aaron Rodgers last summer and they were beaten 38-3 by the Saints in their opener but bounced back with their third straight 13-win season.
“It showed that we’ve been able to do good all year long,” said Hackett, who served as LaFleur’s offensive coordinator from 2019-21. “At the end of the day, it’s about all year – not week 1, week 2, week 3. We want to make sure we are successful throughout the season.”
Hackett said he did it this way “for health reasons”, adding, “I’m glad the guys are healthy, fresh and good to go.”
While they won’t be as sharp as they could have been, Russell had actually taken a few snaps during preseason to put that black eye and shoulder pads to use.
While teams have placed less emphasis on preseason games in recent years, September has tended to get overlooked as starters work out the wrinkles they used to iron out in August.
Broncos general manager George Paton was all for his new coach’s approach to training camp, which included many days of “regeneration” (regeneration) (after a padded full workout , a lightweight) and none of the traditional 7-on-7. 7 drills and accompanying 1-on-1 pass rush drills that have been staples of training camps for generations.
“I liked his plan for training camp,” Paton said. “Whether we start slowly or not, I don’t know, but mid to late season I think it will benefit us.”
Hackett said he puts safety and science ahead of risk and ritual.
“I’m a little surprised that for a new quarterback and a new group, they haven’t gotten at least one streak at some point, but, you know, I get why Hackett took the approach that he passed,” said Hall of Fame QB Troy Aikman, who will debut on the “Monday Night Football” stand alongside Joe Buck in Wilson’s comeback game.
Aikman couldn’t imagine heading into a season without taking a single snap during preseason.
“I wouldn’t have liked that, quite honestly,” he said. “I mean, I guess times change. Maybe if I played in today’s game I would feel differently, but I needed work.
“I just felt like I needed it. I felt like our team needed it. Our offense needed it to come out and play and get back into the rhythm of things,” explained Aikman, whose career has encompassed a time when starters often played. one quarter in the preseason opener, the first half in Game 2, three quarters in Game 3, and all of Game 4 as a regular season finale tune-up.
Now there are only three preseason games because the league added a 17th regular season game last year, and most teams use them as a dress rehearsal for the outskirts, things like communications and game day protocols.
“I don’t know. I’m a bit old school in my approach. I think if the whole approach of training camp is to keep people healthy, then let’s not have pre-season,” he said. Aikman said.
“Then the coaches will say, yes, but we need a pre-season to assess these players. Colleges don’t have a pre-season and they evaluate their players. If you are a good coach and you can assess talent, you can assess a player in training and find out if he is better or not than the player playing next to him who will be on this list.
“Obviously it’s all about the money for the NFL, so I’m not someone who’s in favor of decisions like that being made just for the bottom line, so I don’t know if the pre- season is good for anyone, quite honestly.”
Many teams are using joint workouts against preseason opponents as a best evaluator anyway, even though hotheads have made double workouts a danger this summer.
It’s not just the new generation of coaches who find little use in pre-season.
“Bill Belichick, for example, approaches the first four games as an extension of training camp,” Aikman pointed out. “Now they usually win, as we know. They will start September and be 3-1, 4-0, whatever. They are able to assess and develop players while they are still winning Over the years, not everyone has been able to do this.
“So for Denver, I would expect there to be things that they just aren’t as good at at the start of the year, just because of the timing and the things that contribute to offensive success. “
So maybe Wilson won’t be able to stick with the team that granted her a divorce after her relationship with coach Pete Carroll soured in recent years. Either way, the best retaliation would be to help the Broncos end a six-year playoff drought, no matter how his comeback game on Monday night goes.
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