Which Preseason Philosophies are the Best?

Preseason football is kind of like getting a kiss on the cheek from Paris Hilton. Sure, you are grateful for the kiss but it leaves you wanting more. Football is football and rabid fans will take what they can get but preseason football is like a kiss on the cheek. It just leaves us craving for the real thing.

There are two philosophies coaches use when approaching preseason football. The most popular philosophy is to play the stars sparingly, evaluate talent and get back to camp without any injuries. A majority of teams, including the Chiefs, use this philosophy.

Another way to approach the preseason is to actually try and win the game. Some coaches believe in building a winning attitude even if the games don't mean much. This philosophy is usually employed by coaches who are taking over perennial losers. For instance, Romeo Crennel probably wants to get the taste of losing out of the player's mouths in Cleveland, so he may try harder than Dick Vermeil to win a preseason game. It doesn't mean that Crennel will play his starters in the fourth quarter but for the Browns instilling a winning attitude is more important than it is in Kansas City or New England.

The question is always asked: what kind of importance should teams place on preseason games? Like I stated earlier, a majority of the teams in the NFL take the same approach that Vermeil and the Chiefs take. The Chiefs already know what players like Priest Holmes and Tony Gonzalez can do. While the team wants them to get a little playing time to knock the rust off, there is no reason for these guys to see extensive action in the preseason. The team would rather rest their veterans and give younger players like Kris Wilson and Chris Horn playing time so they can evaluate them better. I think it's safe to say that if the Chiefs go 0-4 but don't come away with any major injuries, Vermeil will consider that a successful preseason.

How coaches approach the preseason depends a lot on what kind of team they have. The Colts are preparing to make a Super Bowl run so they are more concerned about opening day than flying to Tokyo for a meaningless preseason game. I doubt the Colts care if they win one preseason game this year. When the Cowboys won three Super Bowls in the 90s they went a combined 1-12 in preseason games those three years. That proves how little winning preseason games means in the long run.

While teams like the Chiefs and Colts are focused on winning a Super Bowl, the Browns, Bengals and Cardinals are trying to erase years of losing. That's why Romeo Crennel, Marvin Lewis and Dennis Green look at the preseason as a chance to instill a winning attitude into teams that are used to losing. Green is probably the one coach in the NFL who really puts a premium on winning preseason games. When he was with the Vikings, Green had one of the best preseason winning percentages in the NFL and you can expect that trend to most likely continue in Arizona. The Cardinals have won one playoff game in their history and they are a young team. Putting an emphasis on winning in Arizona makes sense for them. Just like the Chiefs resting their stars so they can make a run at the Super Bowl makes sense for what they are trying to accomplish this season.

All teams look at preseason differently. For a talented team like the Chiefs, who have visions of Super Bowl trophies dancing in their heads, it's wise to rest veterans in August and evaluate the second and third team players in case they are needed down the road.

No matter what preseason philosophy you think works best, there is one thing all football fans can agree on: Bring on the regular season!

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