October 30, 2015


NFL's Quality of Play Hits Rock Bottom, No One Cares : A litany of penalties, mistakes and backup quarterbacks hasn't stopped captivating America (KEVIN CLARK, Oct. 27, 2015, WSJ)

The average length a pass travels in the air has dropped 7% since 2011--it now stands at just 6.11 yards--and the average length of a completion has dropped 10% in that span. [...]

It's no coincidence that teams have moved toward this style of play. Quarterback accuracy, honed by years of passing-coach gurus and youth football leagues, has created a world in which a short pass is almost certain to be completed. Teams have begun to view short passes as "long handoffs" that can essentially replace their running games. The upshot is that in an era when the boring, old run-first offenses have all but disappeared, they've been replaced by something more frustrating to watch: a passing game that is now as dull as the running game.

Anecdotally, coaches and executives admit that offensive line play has never been worse. That is not backed up by much data--the league's quarterback sack numbers haven't risen dramatically this season--but simply watching on Sundays seems to confirm that something is amiss. Beyond doubt is the fact that referees think teams are more mistake-prone. Penalties have shot up from 12.6 per game in 2011 to 14.80 a game this season. This has created games with endless stops and starts, or worse, for the Buffalo Bills--whose 670 penalty yards are 137 more than anyone else in the league--games that are only stops, no starts.

Coaches point to the collective bargaining agreement that, when signed in 2011, limited practice time, which they say has hurt young players' development. A movement for some sort of off-season league or changes to the practice structure is growing behind the scenes, but it would take more than a couple of extra practices to clean up all the errors seen this season.

It's become the NBA--younger unskilled players make big money, rather than your payday coming once you've learned your craft, as in baseball.

Posted by at October 30, 2015 3:52 PM

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