The talk of shortening preseason games has picked up steam this year, in large part to major injuries suffered to teams in contention for a Super Bowl title. I find it to be a media knee-jerk reaction, drumming up controversy to get ratings and advertising money.The point behind having these preseason games is to get the players on the roster back into game shape after not playing any competitive football games for 6-8 months. During OTAs, mini-camps, and even training camp practices, players are not running at 100% speed. The preseason games gives them an opportunity to play at 100% in order for the coaching staff to get a better evaluation.
The concern for the length of preseason is also mitigated by the fact that most frontline starters will play a total 6 quarters. That's less than 40% of the snaps in preseason for tenured veterans in the system. In the Patriots case, we really don't need Rob Gronkowski or Julian Edelman playing a lot of preseason snaps because the team already knows what kind of role they'll play in the regular season. For other players, preseason is the chance for teams to test out various combinations on the offensive line, defensive lineup, and players without a defined role on the team. The objective here is trying to put the best 11 players on the field. Last year, we saw the Patriots extend the preseason into the regular season because the problem is there wasn't enough padded practices or game time available for the Patriots to figure out their offensive line before Week 5.
This year, the Patriots have already found 21 of 22 starters on the field. The only open spot left is the left guard spot, which has gotten interesting with Ryan Wendell coming off PUP. I think we'll see Wendell get a lot of reps at left guard in the final two preseason games and possibly the first few games of the season to see if he's a better option than rookie Shaq Mason. If the preseason shrank down to 2 games, Wendell doesn't get the opportunity to play snaps with the starting offensive line. If the Patriots are uncomfortable with the idea of Mason starting in Week 1, the team should try to give Wendell those snaps so they can have film to evaluate.
Injuries are simply a part of the game. It can occur during a preseason game, which happened to Jordy Nelson against the Steelers or it could happen in practice like with Orlando Scandrick and Junior Gallette. Shit happens. Whining about injuries is not the way to move forward, all the team can do is try to adjust for the loss. Arguing that the preseason should be shrunk from 4 games to 2 games is unfair for the players on the bubble who are trying to get a roster spot. Most of the snaps in preseason go to those players trying to claim the last 10-15 roster spots. The length of preseason is fine as is and shouldn't be tinkered with.
As a side note, I'm also against the idea of having 18 games on the schedule. 16 games is enough already and adding more games dilutes the product of the NFL.