Two preseason games is enough, three is overkill and four is ridiculous.
In the past, four games may have been needed to get players in shape and install both offensive and defensive schemes. But now, NFL teams and players spend millions of dollars investing in off season weight programs and personal trainers to keep the players in shape year round. There are various mini-camps to install schemes, so training camp has basically become a time for bonding and developing team chemistry.
Two games are more than enough to answer some of the questions the Ravens face going into the 2006 season. Can Ray Lewis still run sideline to sideline? Does Jamal Lewis still run with power and authority? Is Steve McNair the quarterback of old, or just an old quarterback? Has the offensive line improved from a year ago? Has Ed Reed regained his Pro Bowl form?
That's basically what we want to know. Instead, by the end of the first quarter Friday night, we'll be seeing McNair and Lewis clowning on the sidelines wearing baseball caps. Todd Heap will be cracking jokes with Mike Flynn, and Chris McAlister will be working out plans with Samari Rolle and Ed Reed for touchdown celebrations.
Where is the intensity? It will be in owner Steve Bisciotti's box as he holds his breath and prays that no one gets hurt.
The best part of preseason is to see how many fans remain after halftime. For the most part, they leave after the customary visits the restrooms. The remaining fans are left scratching their heads wondering who the hell are these guys now playing on the field.