We mentioned the other day about how the NFL might wriggle its way to an 18-game season by cutting the preseason and then getting the NFL Players Association to agree to two more regular-season games because of decreased revenue, a lower salary cap and less money for players.
Heres another idea that has floated around: The season expands to 18, but no player is allowed to be active for more than 16 games.
Maybe this has no chance of happening, but consider that it would help address the issue of decreased player safety that two more games represents. Also, teams presumably would want bigger rosters because of the expanded season, and owners might be able to avoid losing too much of their increased revenue to paying more and bigger salaries.
But the cool thing about this idea is the challenge it would present to coaches. We would find out who the real geniuses are, wouldnt we? Basically, each coach would sort of have to play a little bit of fantasy football with his roster, deciding against which opponent he could sit members of his team.
Imagine how much more important a backup quarterback becomes when he has to start a couple of games each season. Your two-pronged attack at running back better develop a few more prongs. Offensive linemen had better be versatile enough to slide over to other positions. And make sure you have plenty of guys who can bring pressure on the passer.
Suppose the NFL had such an arrangement this season. If youre Ravens coach John Harbaugh, do you play Joe Flacco the first 16 games of the season and hope you have your playoff berth clinched for when its time to insert Tyrod Taylor in the last two weeks? If you sit Ray Rice against a weaker team, are you risking making an easy win into a close game because of a diminished running game? Which receivers are you least scared of to warrant giving Lardarius Webb the week off?
Would the NFL make teams announce whos playing by Thursday, sort of how the league mandates injury reports? And would coaches be able to change their minds or make switches because of injury? And so would Bill Belichick say every week that Tom Brady is going to sit out, only to start him when the Patriots backup QB suffers yet another injury during warm-ups?
Were kind of warming to this idea.