With the preseason now shortened to three games, NFL teams are still figuring out how to approach each game. Traditionally, the third preseason game is the “dress rehearsal” game, where the starters play most of the first half, if not more. So does that mean the second preseason game is now the dress rehearsal game?
The Chiefs seem to be treating it that way: “We’ll go a half somewhere thereabout with the starters,” Chiefs HC Andy Reid said to the media on Wednesday.
So what does that mean for the Cardinals? Thus far, Kliff Kingsbury is being coy: “We’re going to do what we think is best for us and they’ll do what they think is best for them,” he said in his own comments to the media on Wednesday.
Should the Cardinals match the Chiefs and treat this as a dress rehearsal? Should we trot out Kyler Murray and the offensive starters, Budda Baker and the defensive starters and play them until halftime? Should we let how the other team is approaching this meaningless game affect our approach?
In short: no, no, and no.
First, I always wondered why teams played their starters the most in the third preseason game, rather than the fourth. Wouldn’t it make more sense to ramp up to regular season action in the final preseason game? So if the Redbirds are going to get their starters some action, maybe it would be best to wait until next week against the Saints.
Second, I don’t see much of a reason to even play our starters much at all in this abbreviated preseason. We’re a fairly veteran team, and we’ve had the same offensive and defensive schemes in place since 2019. There aren’t a ton of guys that we need to bring up to speed in the preseason.
Now, it would be nice to get some of the new pieces some action. Zaven Collins playing more than a couple series seems like a no-brainer. Let’s see Rondale Moore wow us against the Chiefs’ starters. I’d love to let A.J. Green and James Conner shake off some rust after battling injuries the past couple seasons. Let the corners get a few more reps. (If Robert Alford gets injured, he gets injured.) I wouldn’t mind seeing Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt try to get to Patrick Mahomes once or twice, but they’ve already been ruled out.
But Kyler? Budda? DHop? Hump? I’d like to see maybe a series or two from these key pieces and the rest of the available starters, but I don’t think we should match what the Chiefs are doing in a game that means bupkis. Let the few guys who actually need reps get some reps, but keep the rest of the starters safe and fresh.
What do you think, RotBers? Do you want to see the starters out there for the entire first half? Or would you rather see them hit the bench early?