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Starting QBs Shouldn’t Play in Preseason Openers

The 33rd Team asked longtime NFL Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips to comment on New York Jets’ QB Zach Wilson’s injury. Here was coach’s response:

Having your starting QB play in the first preseason game is not smart.

Fewer preseason games now makes a little bit of difference. When we had four games, you normally didn’t play your starters much at all in the first preseason game. Then over the next three, you gradually ramped up how much they got on the field.

But Now, Things Have Changed

People have started saying that preseason games don’t make much of a difference. What makes the difference is having your players ready for the regular season. You don’t see guys like Aaron Donald play in the preseason, or Tom Brady take very many snaps in the preseason.

If you have a starter—especially a good one—you have to be careful with him in the preseason. To me, being careful means that you only play them a limited amount in the preseason, and especially not in that first game.

We Saw It With Zach Wilson

When you play your starters in the preseason, you’re taking a chance they suffer an injury. And for quarterbacks, that’s the number one position everyone looks to for wins and losses. You have to protect him first in the preseason. If he gets hurt and it’s a regular season game, well, that’s the way it goes.

Let’s not play the guy that will make a difference for you in a game that doesn’t count. If your quarterback’s out, your running back’s out, if every single person on the offense is out, you approach the defense the same way. When we play a game, we have to hold our opponent to less points than their defense holds us. You can’t have one side of the ball saying “We’re really good, it’s the other side of the ball that’s bringing the team down”, because that will bring the whole team down.

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Wade PhillipsZach Wilson
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