Monday Night Football

The media and fans criticize pre-season football. Bubble players have a different perspective. These games are the best opportunities for these players to show that they have what it takes to make the team. The pre-season might seem to long, but it is necessary to prepare teams and their quarterbacks for the intensity of the regular season.

Every physical activity should be accompanied by a warm-up period. NFL games are emotionally and physically draining. There is no way a team can be ready to compete at this high level without the pre-season. As the four games pass the starters play longer and longer to ready their bodies for a full game. This preparation also allows players to gel and get back into game routines that mold the all-important game face.

Chris Simms stands to learn a great deal from simply taking snaps in a real game situation. The young quarterback has better physical skills than Brad Johnson, but inexperience will keep Simms in the back-up role. In practice Simms frequently telegraphs his passes, a habit that would provide a feast for a veteran defensive back.

Johnson does not need much to tune up, but he does need to work on timing with three new receivers. Michael Clayton is a rookie so he needs all the playing time he can get. Tim Brown and Joey Galloway are in their first season as Bucs, and no matter how hard you try it is impossible to simulate game situations that pre-season games provide in practice.

Brian Griese is a seven-year veteran of the NFL. This has made it possible for him to pick up Jon Gruden's offense and prompted the coach to call him a quick study. The fact remains that it is a new system and no matter how quick a study he is Griese will need to execute it at full speed. His most noticeable weakness has been throwing the short pass to the flats. He has not looked comfortable hitting backs out of the backfield, a major facet in the offense that he will most certainly be working on improving Monday night.

The biggest problem most people have with the pre-season is risking injuries to star players. If the players stepped right into the regular season it is likely that as many if not more injuries would be incurred. It would be hard to convince a Falcon or Redskin fan of this, but the case of Michael Vick last year and Jon Jansen last Monday night is the exception rather than the rule.

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