If the coaches, players and fans all feel like the risk of injury has outstripped the value of playing the games, there’s no viable path forward for the four-game preseason. Only one question remains: Whether the coaches, players and fans can persuade the owners to get on a different path. For most of the 2000s and into the middle of this decade, the number of starters who threw the fewest preseason passes on their teams stayed in the low single digits. Last year, it was a full half of the league’s starting QBs.This year, no starters have thrown the most passes of anyone else on their team, and 22 threw the fewest. In just seven years, we’ve gone from almost half the league mostly playing their starters to over two-thirds the league barely playing them at all.There’s also reason to believe that the decline of starting QB reps across the league this preseason is not a coincidence. The NFL and its players’ union have begun negotiations for their next collective bargaining agreement, and truncating the preseason is reportedly a major negotiating topic. In that context, coaches and players are incentivized to force the owners’ hands.Last week, with Luck likely to sit out the third preseason game, Colts head coach Frank Reich and Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy texted before the game and reached a mutual I-won’t-play-my-guys-if-you-won’t truce. A similar detente was reached between Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson and Baltimore Ravens skipper John Harbaugh after their week of joint practices.In fact, joint practice sessions seem to be where the starters are getting all the reps they’ve been giving up.“I think [joint practices are] the trend. I think that’s where we’re going. I think that’s the way the league is heading,” Pederson said in a recent press conference. “As coaches, we get to set the situation and control the environment, and sometimes you don’t get those in games. You don’t get that situation in a game, and this way we can control that and work on specific things and get some really good work done with our starters.”That all makes sense: If a coach really wants to work on the two-minute offense, a preseason game offers no guarantee that a team will even get in a two-minute situation. The same is true for any other situation, matchup or personnel package. What doesn’t make sense, though, is charging fans full price to watch an uncontrolled scrimmage between a bunch of players who likely won’t even make their respective teams.On Monday, Texans head coach Bill O’Brien suggested that fans could whet their appetite for starter-on-starter action by the league televising joint practices in lieu of two preseason games: This season, it fell even more steeply. Projected Week 1 starters (via OurLads) accounted for just 11.7 percent of pass attempts.1Luck was the Colts’ projected starter up to and through the start of the Colts’ third preseason game, so he counts as “the starter” in these numbers. That’s a 43 percent drop in one year, after more than a decade of consistently giving fans at least a decent look at the most important player on the team.The same pattern shows up when we look at how many starters have led their team in preseason attempts — and how many starters have brought up the rear. In 2002, 14 of 32 teams’ starting quarterbacks led their team in preseason pass attempts, and in 2012, 13 starters still led their team in preseason throws. But since 2015, no more than three have. The curtain fell on the 2019 NFL preseason Thursday night — and judging by the volleys of rotten produce hurled at it by fans, writers and coaches, the NFL may never want to stage that show the same way again.For decades, it’s felt like the NFL has had a predictable rhythm to how (and how often) starters play. A little in the first game, then a little more, and then the third preseason game is the “dress rehearsal,” when coaches game-plan, starters start, and the fans who paid full price for tickets get treated to something resembling their team. In the context of meaningless August football, this one game on the preseason schedule was the closest thing fans got to the real thing. The fourth preseason game, in which starters rarely played, has been a forgivable afterthought.But the ugly, pointless football played Thursday night felt unforgivable — because the players fans pay to see barely played in the first three games, either. Even the last bastion of NFL preseason relevance seems to be vanishing. This year’s “dress rehearsals” hardly lived up to their billing. Carolina Panthers starting quarterback Cam Newton left the game after a minor injury. Almost all of the Green Bay Packers’ starters were held out. Houston starter Deshaun Watson got sacked to start the team’s first possession, the Texans lost starting running back Lamar Miller for the season on the next play, then Watson got sacked again, fumbled the ball and headed for the bench without throwing a pass. Indianapolis Colts starter Andrew Luck retired before taking a single preseason rep.If teams are comfortable going the entire preseason with their starting quarterbacks barely taking the field, the league’s case for making their fans spend the time and money to watch these games is significantly weakened. Perhaps as no surprise, calls to reduce the number of preseason games are now coming from everywhere, from fans on Twitter to major news outlets. It feels like all of a sudden, the whole NFL-watching world has given up on the preseason.Of course, calls for a shortened NFL preseason are nothing new. Analyst John Clayton called for it in The Washington Post earlier this month — almost two decades after he wrote for ESPN that players’ union representatives had already been pushing for it “for years.”The year after Clayton wrote that ESPN article, the NFL expanded to 32 teams. Fourteen of those teams’ eventual Week 1 starters led their squad in preseason pass attempts. Even as their union reps were arguing that a four-game preseason was at least one game more than anybody needed, stars like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Daunte Culpepper, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning were out there taking more reps than anybody on their team.During that 2002 season, 34.4 percent of preseason passes were thrown by quarterbacks who would go on to start Week 1. A decade later, starters’ share of the workload was about the same. But from 2012 to last season, their leaguewide share of pass attempts dropped by 36.5 percent.
Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. 6 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. December 8, 2016 Register Now » Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global Thanks to an influx of website builder tools on the internet, anyone can build a website without any prior web development or design experience. However, choosing from the tools in front of you may not be that easy. Which features matter most — and is there a right way to choose?Related: Build a Website for Less Than $500Five features you should compareEvery business has its own process of vetting tools and partners, but when it comes to the choice of website builders, the proposition is pretty clear. Examine the following features and you’ll end up finding the right platform for the job.1. Price People like to say things like, “Oh, don’t worry about price. It’ll all work itself out.” But this is bogus advice. You have to consider the price when considering any business tool. If the price doesn’t work within your budget, then there’s no sense even looking at it.Start with price and begin reviewing the cost of various site builders. Some don’t charge an up-front cost but do require monthly service fees after launch. Others charge a large up-front fee but don’t require additional service charges. It’s important that you know what you’re getting into.2. SimplicityYou’re using a website builder because you don’t have web design and development skills. In other words, the goal is to simplify the process. With that in mind, consider how intuitive a platform is when you’re evaluating the options.Many of today’s leading website builders feature drag-and-drop functionality. If you can find a builder with this technology, go for it. You never know when you’ll need to go back and change something later on. Easier is always better.Related: 4 Ways to Build a Profitable Website From Your Own Experience3. Customer supportIssues arise and problems come out of nowhere. How strong is the website builder’s customer support? Can you reach the company via phone, email and live chat? Are these people available 24/7 or only during business hours?Hopefully, you won’t need customer support often, but when it’s necessary, you want it to be easy and available. Thankfully, customer support is a very competitive value-add feature right now, and many website builders are steadily improving these services.4. Client testimonialsWebsite builders can rant and rave about how great they are on their own website and sales pages, but how do you know they aren’t just puffing themselves up to grow their bottom line?This is where client testimonials matter. When you get down to two or three options, visit review websites and start reading testimonials. What do current and past clients like about the builder? Do they live up to their claims? Many do — but you don’t want to take everything at face value.5. SEO featuresSomething as technical as SEO may not be on your mind when you’re selecting a website builder; but don’t ignore this issue. Having a website builder with SEO-friendly web design technologies built in can really give you a head-start over the competition.You’ll want to look at both on-page and off-page features to really understand what exactly it is that different site builders are offering. A look at the top website buildersNow that you know exactly what to look for, you’re ready to start evaluating some of the options in the marketplace. Web.com and Weebly are considered the web builder giants, so we’ll start with them:Web.com. With Web.com, you know exactly what you’re getting: exceptional website building features and responsive support. The service doesn’t charge any up-front fees, but you will have to pay a monthly maintenance fee that includes hosting, advertising and general upkeep.Weebly. Businesses love Weebly because of its thousands of templates and incredibly user-friendly, drag-and-drop format that makes building web pages a total breeze. You pay an up-front fee for the site and then choose which monthly features you want to invest in. Here’s an example of a website using Weebly. Notice how clean and smooth it is. These are characteristics that most people use to describe this site builder.There are other options, of course. If you’re willing to look around, you’ll notice that there are at least half a dozen other practical options worth considering. These include:Wix. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t like Wix. It’s widely recognized as one of the leading website builders and features great responsive templates and a rather deep app store. Here’s an example of a website designed using Wix. Notice how smooth and responsive the site is, with a variety of content formats and high-resolution elements.eHost. While it doesn’t get discussed as much as some other builders, eHost is a tremendous platform. It has fantastic customer support and gives businesses free domain names with registration.Bigcommerce. Need ecommerce capabilities? While Shopify gets a lot of attention, Bigcommerce is arguably a better solution. It has a nice POS system that really sets it apart. Here’s an example of a site design with BigCommerce. It’s the perfect picture of how this platform allows you to incorporate a bunch of different elements without appearing overcrowded.It all comes down to the features you need and the level of comfort you have with building a website. Definitely consider these five options, but know, too, that there’s a long list of other builders available.Buying a domain nameFinally, it’s important to touch on the topic of buying a domain name. Before you’re able to build a website, you need an address that directs people to your site. While you can buy a domain name from a number of different providers, most website builders and hosts now offer deals when you sign up for one of their services. Some will even give you free domain name registration.But even if you can’t get a domain name for free from your host, there are plenty of names that cost only a dollar or two. Be forewarned that if you want a one-word domain or one somebody else already owns, you may have to spend thousands of dollars. Something to think about.Related Offer: Visit Namecheap.com: the hassle-free way to register a domain.Take your time.Don’t rush. When looking for a website builder, take your time and look for the features that matter to your business. With a little bit of patience, you’ll eventually find the right solution that’s functional, intuitive and cost-effective.