Moore: Looking at NFL’s 18-game proposal from a Seahawks perspective
Wall Street Journal reported late last week that NFL owners proposed an 18-game schedule to the players in the new collective bargaining agreement. I like the thought of it because it would eliminate two of the four preseason games that are becoming more and more irrelevant.
Teams are resting starters more than ever in the preseason, guarding against injury. It makes little sense to charge regular-season ticket prices for these games, but the NFL continues to make fans pay full freight.
The players can argue that adding two games would shorten their already brief NFL careers. An average NFL career spans only 3.4 years. With 18 games, it would drop to an estimated 2.8 years.
So to address that issue, owners came up with an interesting twist – an 18-game schedule in which players would be only eligible to play in 16 of them. This proposal was shot down by the players. NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said: “If somebody wants to make an 18-game proposal, we’ll look at it. I haven’t seen anything that makes me think it would be good for the players.”
If the players didn’t like this latest proposal, I don’t know what it will take to change their minds. Imagine the possibilities from a Seahawks’ perspective if this plan were enacted:
• Which two games would you have Russell Wilson on the sideline? The first two, allowing him to play in the last 16 and make up for potentially two losses in the first two games? The last two, after potentially securing a playoff berth in the first 16 games? Then again, what if you entered the last two games needing to win them both to make the playoffs with Geno Smith or Paxton Lynch at quarterback?
Maybe you’d use a different strategy, sitting Wilson in games when the Seahawks are double-digit favorites or comfortable favorites at home. That could backfire, of course, particularly when you consider the Human Nature element in all of this. If you’re the Cardinals coming to Seattle as 13-point underdogs, and you hear that the backup QB is starting for the Seahawks, don’t you get a little more fired up? The Seahawks think you’re so sad that they can beat you without their best quarterback in the game. Surely that would trigger an emotionally-charged Cardinals team to perhaps pull off an upset.
• What about kickers and punters? Would you need to have backups at both positions? Would you be more apt to go for it on fourth down, maybe even in your own territory? And you’d probably go for two-point conversions more frequently than ever before.
• If you’re a second-stringer, don’t you love the idea that the owners have proposed? Now as it is, you’re not playing unless a first-stringer is injured. This way you’ve got a shot to show your stuff more often. Seems to me it would increase competition at every position.
• It would probably be just like it is now with injury reports needing to be filed on Friday before Sunday and Monday games. Opponents could adjust accordingly, and so would oddsmakers in Las Vegas.
• It just makes the game more interesting overall for coaches and fans, opening it up to second-guessing on a weekly basis. Maybe Pete Carroll should have started Bobby Wagner against the Bengals after all. And why did he sit Duane Brown against the Steelers when they have such a ferocious pass rush?
It’s still a highly entertaining product that will apparently stay as is in the 2020s, but I’d argue that this latest proposal is one that should be considered again when a new collective bargaining agreement is discussed.
The Go 2 Guy Jim Moore appears weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. on Danny, Dave and Moore on 710 ESPN Seattle. You can reach Jim at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo. Jim also hosts “Bark,” a podcast about dogs that’s available at 710Sports.com and wherever you find podcasts.
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