When the Seahawks and Cardinals played on Sunday night the world was burning because we didn’t see enough offense. The lament of Brock Osweiler was understandable on Monday, but that wasn’t the first Monday night game to stink up the joint in the history of the program.
There are various theories being floated about what’s wrong with football, but like Aaron Rodgers’ struggles in Green Bay, no one is entirely sure what the issue is. Fortunately we here at CBS Sports have a man with answers. That man’s name is Pete Prisco, and we broke down these issues on the Roughing the Passer Podcast (subscribe via iTunes right here).
To the Giant Prisco Blockquote Machine!
There’s a couple reasons. The game isn’t good right now, as good as it [normally] is, for a variety of reasons.
First and foremost: lack of practice time. Players asked for that, they got that, if they want to blame anybody, blame the CBA and blame what they begged for, which is lack of practice. They don’t practice. Nobody hits. You’ve got to hit in the NFL. If you put pads on — to play the game you have to hit at some point to get repetition. There’s no repetition, and by that I mean the offensive line. It’s easy to rush the passer in the NFL, you just go up the field and work on your moves. Playing offensive line in the NFL takes cohesion and unity, and when you can’t practice — and by that I mean practicing in pads — that’s a problem.
Two, you’re limited by the number of practices you can have. Therefore it’s all about installing game plans and installing offenses rather than teaching. Nobody’s getting taught anymore. You don’t learn the technique, unless you go do it on your own you’re not learning the technique. And I’m talking about everybody across the board, whatever position, but particularly the offensive line.
Three, the offensive line play is terrible because the offensive line play is not taught in the college game. It’s pass-and-tap, nobody learns the offensive line. When the offensive line stinks there is no rhythm to offense and therefore it looks bad. And when it looks bad, everyone complains about the game.
Four, everybody is killing the quarterback play. Go back and look at the 80’s and 70’s and the old days. Look at some of the bottom quarterbacks in those years, they were awful. So the quarterback play — the top is still good, the bottom is bad.
No. 5, when you look at free agency. You know back in the day, ohhhhh it was great back in the day. They didn’t have free agency back in the day. When you drafted a guy, you developed him, you sat him down, he finally went in after four years and he was a starter and you kept him. This is free agency — they asked for that too, and I’m all for free agency, because I’m all for guys making a lot of money. But the reality is, you asked for free agency, this is the product you get from free agency.
So you add it all up, that’s why the game looks bad. It’s not bad. The game isn’t any worse than it was 20 years ago. It’s a different game, it’s a cerebral game now.
I sat down and watched the game from the 1990s with some players and we looked at it. The Dallas Cowboys were in their heyday, came to the line of scrimmage, two receivers, one tight end, two backs, [Troy] Aikman came to the line of scrimmage, he looked over, no motion, no pre-snap motion, he snapped the ball, no audibles and he ran the play against the Green Bay Packers.
It was physical, it was violent, it was nasty but it wasn’t cerebral. Now it’s a thinking game. The game has changed from that standpoint. But to say the game is worse and worse and the officiating is worse, that might be the worst thing — everyone reacts to everything, overreaction, overreaction. The game is still a fantastic game, it just lacks a lot of polish because they don’t practice.
That’s a great explanation actually. And let’s not sleep on the referees having a tougher job because of high definition televisions (as I pointed out on the podcast).
Or the fact that there aren’t very many good teams in football (like, one) getting stuffed into tons of prime-time windows.
In short, it’s a confluence of events that has created a lot of ugly football games.