The first two weeks have resulted in some unwatchable football. Some of this is part of a larger issue (limited practice time, poor offensive line talent) but some of it is the NFL’s own fault. The schedule for primetime games has been pretty poor. Granted, some of it is due to teams underperforming expectations but The NFL certainly not doing themselves any favours. There were a number of intriguing games that I would have been more interested in viewing.
Larger Issue – Limited Practice Time
Many of the offenses have look inept so far, this season. Points are way down this season. And don’t get me wrong, I more than happy to watch a defensively dominated game. But I want it to be that the defense is dominating rather than the offense just being bad. Which is the case so far this season.
Timing is such a big thing in today’s NFL. The best offenses look like well oiled machines, but so many of offenses look out of tune. One theory for why this is, is that they don’t have time to practice. The first part of the season is really just a time for them to get the reps in that they need to sort all this out.
Defenses have such an advantage in the beginning part of the season now because they are less dependant on timing. Defense is much more reactionary making it is so much easier for a defense to be top notch early on.
I understand why practice time is limited but this issues of poor offensive play is not going away. Offenses will continue to struggle at the beginning of the season, resulting in some pretty bad games.
Larger Issue – Poor Offensive Line Play
Part of the reasoning for the inept offensive play really has to do with the offensive line play. Lines across the league now are so bad that they are destroying offenses. Offensive coordinators are left with the choice of running a reduced playbook consisting of quick timing throws, or running their full playbook with a very realistic chance of the play being blown up before it fully develops.
If you look at the worst offenses so far this season, the major common theme is that their lines are some of the worst in the league. Cincinnati, NY Giants, Houston, Seattle, Indianapolis are some of the worst lines and they are all bottom of the league in points for this season.
Talent coming into the league for offensive lines is at an all time low. Now this could be a blip on the radar and talent could return to the average but there are a number of theories that suggest that this is not an outlier.
Time will tell if this is the case or not but let’s say that this issue persists. The demand for competent offensive linemen does equal the supply. Offenses will have to adapt and change their style of play. This will give defenses a huge advantage going forward if this problem is not corrected.
NFL’s Own Fault
Regardless of the state of play across the NFL, some of these scheduled primetime games are ridiculous. The reality of the landscape of today’s NFL is a viewer can watch any game that is live. This means that even with play being poor, during the 1pm and 4pm time slots, you can find a game worth watching. During the prime time games, where there is one option, if the game is bad you’re stuck watching it.
The NFL needs to look at the games the schedule in primetime. I write this heading into week 3 and if you included the Thursday night game from week 3, 3 out of the 4 primetime games are pretty much unwatchable in my opinion. Sure, Cincinnati and Houston looked a lot better before the season started but is it all that surprising that it was a dud? Cincy had a bad offensive line last year and they let their two top linemen walk. Houston has an incredible defensive front. I’m not say it was 100% obvious that it would have played out like this but it is not at all surprising.
The NFL needs to be picking games that have a good chance to be intriguing and putting those in their primetime slots because right now Sunday is the only day I want to watch football.