Alternative title: The Defense Strikes Back
I am by no means a football guru. I don't watch any film, and don't pay close attention to any other team besides the Seahawks. But even my untrained eye has seen a trend emerge from the college ranks and infiltrate the NFL. And I'm not talking about the read-option or the blur offense. I'm talking about the lack of defense.
For example, on Saturday Johnny Football torched 'bama's defense to the tune of 42 points (why the idiom is torched...to the tune of, I have no idea), often looked at as the gold standard in college football. And to my untrained eye, he only had 1 "miracle" play. But otherwise, 'bama's cornerbacks were burned repeatedly and Manziel simply hit the wide open receiver.
Then, Sunday. The past two weeks have been absurd. Chicago nearly loses to the CHRISTIAN PONDER led Vikings, Atlanta nearly pisses away a game against St. Louis. Philly makes Phillip Rivers look like a great quarterback. There are probably more examples, but I didn't watch every one of the games.
All in all, it feels like teams are playing shittier defense than ever. Why?
The answer is probably very complicated, but I think there are two underlying causes.
1. Rules protecting passing
2. The salary cap
I am all for rules protecting the players. Football is a violent sport, but that violence should not cause debilitation to the players. Some of the calls are going to be ticky-tacky, but that is a price I'm willing to pay for the safety of another human being. That being said, thank god the tuck rule is abolished, cus that was bullshit.
Furthermore, I think that the salary cap is a much larger factor. Teams are overpaying for quarterbacks. Spending so many resources on one position necessarily prevents those resources from being spent elsewhere. As Buffalo and the Jets have shown this year, above average defense lets even mediocre QBs win games.
Personally, I love defensive battles. The Carolina game was ugly like a war, not ugly like the Three Stooges (a.k.a JAX-OAK). Seeing the league take the no-defense college approach has been a bummer. Fortunately, I think that the tide is reversing.
College players are more ready for the NFL than ever. We are seeing this on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Getting cheap (and relatively game-ready) players from the draft means that you can spend for specific players rather than positions. For example, the Seahawks spent money for the best free agent D-linemen, and I don't think they overspent at all, they got the players they wanted for the price they wanted. I can't speak for PC/JS, but if Avril or Bennet were taken off the market, I doubt some lesser players get the same deals we gave them.
Anyways, this got a little rambly, but I think that as the league realizes, or should I say remembers, how effective defense can be, there will be a shift back to better defenses with less flashy, but effective QBs under center. There will always be the Rodgers-Brady-Mannings that can carry a crappy defense, but hopefully Seattle leads the way into a new era where defense is as important as the QB.