No. 7 Michi­gan tops Army in OT

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Sports - By BARRY WIL­NER

Jake Moody made a 43- yard field goal and No. 7 Michi­gan forced and re­cov­ered a fum­ble to hold on for a 24-21 dou­ble-over­time win over Army. The Wolver­ines

( 2- 0) didn’t lead un­til the sec­ond ex­tra pe­riod and would have lost at the end of reg­u­la­tion to the Black Knights ( 1- 1) if Cole Tal­ley made a 50yard kick that sailed just short and to the right.

NEW YORK — There was a time when NFL games played in August were called ex­actly what they are: ex­hi­bi­tions.

In re­cent years, the league has stuck to de­scrib­ing them as be­ing part of the pre­sea­son. What they need to be is ex­tinct.

Well, that might be a bit over­stated: There ac­tu­ally are rea­sons to play some prac­tice games, which will be out­lined be­low. But four of them? Uh, no.

No less a per­son­age than Roger Good­ell agrees.

“I feel what we should be do­ing is al­ways to the high­est qual­ity, and I’m not sure pre­sea­son games meet that level right now,” Good­ell said in June. “I’m not sure, talk­ing with coaches, that four pre­sea­son games is nec­es­sary any­more to get ready for a season to eval­u­ate play­ers, de­velop play­ers. There are other ways of do­ing that, and we’ve had a lot of dis­cus­sions about that.”

Those dis­cus­sions will ramp up over the next few months, with the NFL per­haps for­mu­lat­ing a plan to present to the play­ers’ union that could in­clude an ex­pan­sion of the play­offs (adding a wild-card team in each con­fer­ence) and the dele­tion of one ex­hi­bi­tion game.

Even cut­ting the ex­hi­bi­tions to three con­tests wouldn’t achieve what needs to be done — un­less team own­ers are will­ing to slash ticket and park­ing and con­ces­sion prices for th­ese pre­tend matches in which the only glimpses of Le’Veon Bell or J.J. Watt fig­ure to be with them in civvies on the side­line.

Teams al­ready have be­gun the process of mak­ing the August games sig­nif­i­cantly less im­por­tant by stag­ing joint prac­tices and scrim­mages. Un­der such a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment, the likes of Drew Brees and Philip Rivers, Aaron Don­ald and Khalil Mack get their reps.

“You get a whole dif­fer­ent type of in­ten­sity,” Pan­thers coach Ron Rivera said af­ter his team scrim­maged with Buf­falo. “You get a whole new look for an op­po­nent. We didn’t game­plan any­thing, so you re­ally need to use our stuff and re­ally follow your rules as play­ers.”

Maybe those own­ers should con­sider open­ing up a series of such work­outs to the pub­lic, sell their mer­chan­dise and food there, and let fans ac­tu­ally see the stars in some sort of ac­tion.

“As an NFLPA rep, I re­ally do think you’re go­ing to see this league tran­si­tion­ing into what we’re sort of do­ing, what a lot of other teams are do­ing: joint prac­tices and not play­ing in the game,” Bears quar­ter­back Chase Daniel said.

Although the la­bor agree­ment has an­other two sea­sons to run, wait­ing un­til the 2021 season to ad­just the sched­ule would be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. Be­sides, if Good­ell wants some­thing, he usu­ally finds a way to get it done — see re­play re­views of pass in­ter­fer­ence for this season, and heav­ier dis­ci­pline for egre­gious hits that was adopted a few years ago.

Once the CBA is dis­cussed, a fur­ther de­crease in the pre­sea­son sched­ule could come. NFL own­ers still want more reg­u­lar-season con­tests, though adding two seems far­fetched for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, many of them safety-ori­ented. A 17th game might be used as a bar­gain­ing chip — ev­ery team would play a neu­tral-site game, en­hanc­ing the in­ter­na­tional pop­u­lar­ity the com­mis­sioner cov­ets — with the union get­ting more jobs with in­creased ros­ter spots.

De­spite the ob­vi­ous pit­falls of the pre­sea­son, none of this is sim­ple. The coach­ing fra­ter­nity, un­happy since the 2011 CBA set­tle­ment that took away prac­tice time, finds value in the ex­hi­bi­tions. The games pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties to eval­u­ate back­ups, and back­ups to the back­ups. Though skep­tics will ask just how much is gained from ap­prais­ing guys who might make the ros­ter as they play against guys in the same sit­u­a­tion, any on-field ac­tion with hit­ting is a ben­e­fit, ac­cord­ing to coach­ing staffs.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.