Television Pundits Tackle Why NFL Has Lacked Excitement This Season
The issue of poor offensive play during the first two weeks of the NFL season was a main topic on the afternoon TV talk shows yesterday, with ESPN's Dan Le Batard calling it a "plague that is hurting football aesthetically." He said he is "turning away from football games -- and I never used to do that -- because I'm tired of this style of play” (“Highly Questionable,” ESPN, 9/19). FS1's Jason Whitlock said the NFL has "set up all the rules for you to score as many points as possible," but in the process, the league has "destroyed ... unpredictability." Whitlock: "You used to turn the ball over at the quarterback position. Now they're throwing 50 times a game and only throw seven, eight interceptions all year. The game used to be unpredictable and more exciting. They have exchanged exciting for efficiency" (“Speak for Yourself,” FS1, 9/19). ESPN’s Marcus Spears said he has been “bored to death with the NFL game” so far this year. However, he added, “Everybody just needs to pause a little bit. We know what this game is, we know what it’s going to get to, and at some point it’ll be there” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 9/19).
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT? Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio attributed the number of low-scoring games to the "reduced intensity of training camp practices." The reduced number of padded practices does not "get the body and the mind to where it needs to be to come out of the gates Week 1 and be ready to go." Florio: "It makes September the new preseason. They haven’t reduced the preseason, they’ve expanded it because the preseason games have been less meaningful." He added he does not know "what they do to fix this, because I don’t think the players are going to gladly assume more time at off-season workouts, more intense practices." Browns LT Joe Thomas said he could "make some parallels" between lack of practice time and early-season struggles, but he noted there were some "bigger issues" that he sees. Thomas: "Colleges aren’t running pro-style offenses anymore, so the vast majority of players getting drafted have no experience running pro-style techniques.” He added, "What you’re seeing right now is an imbalance in valuing older veteran offensive lineman versus younger players. Since the rookie salary cap was placed in the last CBA, you’re not seeing teams that value veteran players the way they used to" (“PFT,” NBCSN, 9/20).
TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING: FS1's Colin Cowherd said the NFL "should be concerned about greed" more than bad play. He said, "You used to have a 1:00 window and a 4:00 window, and you got to prepare for a week. Then the NFL said, ‘We're going to put a couple teams on Thursday, and then a couple teams in London.’ You've got teams traveling overseas, teams on short weeks, teams beat up and not ready to play. What do you know, offenses struggle.” Cowherd: “This league has taken the 1:00 window and given it to London, one Monday night has two ‘Monday Night Football’ games and they put the games on Thursday. Play at 1:00, play at 4:00, play on Monday, teams are rested. This is about greed” ("Speak For Yourself," FS1, 9/19).