It is very rare that a team wins all 16 games during the course of the regular season. So why not get it over and lose the first? Well, it’s not being suggested that the first game be lost on purpose but there are usually certain things that can be learned the first week of the regular season.
While it is true that there are four pre season games before the first game of the regular season, coaches often give it’s star players limited playing action too make sure they aren’t getting hurt and that is true on both sides of the ball.
Therefore, the backup quarterback is playing against a defense that is mostly second and third string. The other reason coaches leave the second and third string players in is because they also need to see who they are going to keep and who they need to let go.
Sure, you also have practices but the reality of the practices and scrimmage but the players already know each other, especially after you have been practicing together for a while and everybody will know how to dissect each other. On top of that, a portion of those practices will be without full pads on and practices won’t go at game speed.
According to a local TV station in Chicago, 46 percent of NFL teams that lose their first game make the playoff’s. Not only can coaches figure out what went wrong in a game they can always go back and adjust and it’s not like they don’t have time to figure out what went wrong most of the time. One thing that is unique to football at all levels is team only plays once a week, compared to other sports such as hockey, basketball or baseball where a team can play anywhere from four to six times a week and there isn’t as much time for reflection as to why a team lost a particular game.
It is considered to be a good thing at all levels of football if a coach or a player studies game tape. A skilled coach or player will be able to figure out the tendencies and look for patterns of things that went right and also things that may have gone wrong. Once the coach figures those things out then the necessary adjustments can be made in practice.
So why is it good for an NFL team to lose it’s first game? It can easily figure out the gaps, where you need to improve skill wise and also find ways to adjust to the team for the next week.