The NFL is still as much a part of my life as it ever has been, but it is quickly becoming a game I hardly recognize.
I have watched over half of the preseason games this year, and I often find myself as frustrated in my viewing experience as I am ecstatic to have football back. Granted they are exhibition games, but the flow of the games has been laughable due to the number of penalties, and the collective defensive showings have been abysmal as a result.
On every one of the telecasts, the announcers have made it a point to say how there are new points of emphasis being enforced by the refs this year, but I continue to ask myself two questions. First, why continue to fix something that isn’t broken? Second, at what point will the NFL stop legislating defense out of the game?
How can any defense stop the likes of Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas and Brandon Marshall if defensive backs can make zero contact with them after five yards? It is an absolutely impossible assignment, and it renders the defense helpless.
I understand that fans want to see scoring plays, but I can guarantee you that they don’t want to see the NFL turn into the arena league, where 40-plus point outputs are the norm for both teams. That is exactly where the game is heading.
Last year’s Seattle Seahawks were the first Super Bowl champions, arguably since the 2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were overwhelmingly better on the defensive side of the ball than on offense, and it sure feels like the NFL is trying to stop that from happening again.
In fact, the overreaction by the league is being referred to as the Legion of Boom rule. If the preseason is any indication of how games will be called during the season, the new emphasis on preventing defensive holding is going to ruin the game. The product has been unwatchable at times.
I fully understand and agree with some of the rules that have been implemented in recent years to reduce the number of head trauma injuries, but that is not what I am talking about here. I am solely referring to penalties being called that have little to no bearing on the outcome of the play.
Fans want contact. They yearn for big hits. They cherish the thought of having a physical and tough defense. I’m not saying that we should return to the days of players using their bodies as projectile missiles, but there needs to be some allowance for a certain level of contact to slow down otherwise unstoppable receivers.
I hope that the NFL can take a step back following the preseason and take a look at the product these new rules have created. Surely, they will see what we as football fans have seen, and recognize that this is not the football we know and love.