Jay Gruden has revealed what his strategy was in playing his starters sparingly during the preseason. On Sunday, he said that he valued his top players staying healthy for September over using the August games to get ready. 

Many fans and some in the media are saying that the Redskins will not be prepared for their season opener against the Cardinals because the offensive starters have so little work together at game speed. 

However, the Redskins are not alone in buying into the philosophy that less preseason action is more, or at least better, when it comes to their starters, particularly their quarterback, taking preseason reps. 

Alex Smith, in his first year with the team, took 34 snaps in the preseason. Here are the preseason snaps for the QBs the Redskins will play in their first four games:

  • Sam Bradford, Cardinals, 33
  • Andrew Luck, Colts, 71
  • Aaron Rodgers, Packers, 6
  • Drew Brees, Saints, 17

Bradford also changed teams over the offseason, moving from the Vikings to a Cardinals team with a new head coach. The two teams that meet on September 9 will be on level ground when it comes to quarterback preseason game preparation. 

Luck is returning from missing a season with a shoulder injury and Colts coach Frank Reich chose to play him the traditional amount, about one full game’s worth of snaps. Reich also brought in a new offensive system. After sitting out all of 2017, will Luck be more prepared than Smith, who played 16 games last year but half as many preseason snaps? 


You could argue that Rodgers could spend August and early September at a Sandals resort in Bermuda, get on a plane the morning of the season opener, and still throw for 290 yards and three touchdowns. He does have a new tight end in Jimmy Graham, but they probably can develop chemistry pretty quickly. 

Brees could do the same Sandals resort thing and probably be just fine. His top four pass catchers, in terms of receiving yards, return so he will be in sync with them. Besides, the Washington game is the fifth of the season for the Saints as they will be playing the Redskins after their early, Week 4 bye. 

Looking around the rest of the division, Dallas’ Dak Prescott played 39 preseason snaps and Eli Manning played 50. They both got more work than Smith, but they still had light loads by traditional standards. One of two quarterbacks will start the season for the Eagles. Carson Wentz, of course, had no preseason snaps as he continues to rehab his torn ACL. Nick Foles had 50 preseason reps. 

In short, the NFC East will be won by a team with a quarterback who had a light workload in the preseason. And so we won’t really know any more about this subject when it comes up a year from now than we do now. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler