National Football Beleaguered

This is a down year for the NFL.

Do you know how I know that?  It’s not because all the networks which air their product claim ratings are down over 10% from last year.  That could be just random disinterest of perhaps we’ve found better ways to spend our Sundays.

nfl-ratings-down

No, the NFL is experiencing a down year because you can’t tell me who the fourth best team in the league is.

Go ahead, try it.  I’ll give you the Cowboys, Patriots and even throw in the Seahawks, who are playing some pretty good football right now.

But of the remaining teams 29 teams, who would you say is the fourth best team?

At 8-2, the Raiders are the only viable option… but do you trust them?  Are you willing to go out on that promising yet still flimsy, silver and black limb and say the Raiders are ready to make a serious playoff run?

Even if I grant you the Raiders at number four, there’s a pretty healthy drop off after that, a steep and narrow cliff dive into a sea of NFL mediocrity.

raiders-win

The Chiefs, Broncos and Giants all have seven wins.  Are you prepared to tell me with a straight face that those teams are really good?    Then we delve into the fantastically average, nothing to write home about 6-4 category which includes the Dolphins, Texans, Lions, Vikings, Falcons and Redskins, who are actually 6-3?  I give them a solid two thumbs meh.

The AFC North is an absolute cluster.  The better than last year Ravens are tied with the horrifically worse than last year Steelers at a dazzling 5-5.  The Bengals are a team moving in reverse and the Browns are well, the Browns.

The AFC South is equally bad.  The fact that a team has to win this division is charity on the league’s part.  And out West, the Chargers suck yet again.

In the NFC, the Eagles quickly sunk from first to last because they can’t win on the road.  The Lions, I repeat, the Lions are leading the NFC North after four straight losses by the Vikings and the Packers having turned into the Bears.  The NFC South is bad (again) with last year’s 15-1 Panthers now 4-6.  Out west, the once Super Bowl favorite Arizona Cardinals are also 4-6 and the Niners are taking a knee on the season at 1-9.

niners-knee

So I ask you, where have all the good teams gone?  Is this parity or just really bad football?

Every Sunday, there’s about one game you can honestly say you look forward to watching.

Want further proof that we’re being presented with a shoddier brand of football?  Last week, a record number of extra points were missed, twelve to be exact.  I get that the league just moved the attempts farther back to make that gimme point a little more tenuous but it’s still a chip shot for most of these guys.

The fact that the best team in the league is run by a rookie running back and rookie quarterback should tell you something.  Everyone else just looks old, even guys that have only been in the league for a spell.  The guy so often touted as the best quarterback in the league is awful.  The young buck thought to be the best thing since John Elway is equally as bad.  And last year’s MVP, well, this year he won’t be getting any votes.

Look, I’m not complaining.  I still spend my Sundays watching football from the friendly confines of SportsChump Manor but that’s mostly because I obsess about my own fantasy team.  I’m merely stating fact:  the overwhelming majority of this year’s NFL teams are not good.

I’m not exactly sure what’s leading to the shitter play but whatever it is, it’s out there in full force and should probably be fixed before ratings drop any further.  There hasn’t been a team yet aside from my aforementioned top three that has wowed me.

What’s even more amazing about this mess we call an NFL season is that not a single head coach has been fired yet.

I’m sure (or rather I’m hoping) this year is just an anomaly.  I know we can’t have historically great teams every season but when’s the last time we had one?  The Patriots are putting the finishing touches on their dynasty and I’ll even give you the Seattle Seahawks.  But still, I’m left yearning for some really good football and I’m not sure I’m getting it.

I hate to sound like the old codger who’s about to say “back in MY day” but back in my day, in the early 1990s, you had the Dallas Cowboys, led by Aikman, Emmitt and Irvin, the San Francisco 49ers led by Montana (then Young) and Rice and the Brett Favre Packers.  And that was just in the NFC.  In the AFC, you had the Bills perennially coming up one win shy but they were still historically great.

Where are those teams today?

aikman-favre

I get that the NFL is a zero-sum game.  For every team that wins, another has to lose (or tie).  But that doesn’t excuse or even explain such extensive mediocrity.

I don’t have the answer as to what the hell is going on.  The problem is neither does the Commissioner.

18 thoughts on “National Football Beleaguered

  1. According to Colin Cowherd yesterday the previous weeks ratings were great. He attributed it to the election finally being over. He might be right. Other people have said the NFL Red Zone channel as done great harm. Seven straight hours of commercial free football where you get the best of all games?

    Personally many rules changes of late have caused my love for football to diminish a bit. The targeting rule needs to be seriously looked at again. I like the violence of football, part of the reason I watch. Deciding intent is difficult, but I have seen many terrible calls held up by replay. That leads me to another complaint. The officiating is horrendous and getting worse.

    Another reason is commercials. This one is a serious one. I watched twice in a row yesterday in the same game a team kick an XP, and we go to commercial. We come back and kickoff and we go to another commercial…but it is 3 minutes each break. It also happened in the Gator Game vs LSU as well. It is worse sitting in the stadium waiting for the guy with the red hat to wind his arm. It is awful. Commercials kill momentum and rhythm. Maybe they need a running logo in the corner of the screen like soccer. You know they changed the rules a few years ago and actually tried to make games shorter by changing the clock rules. Games seem longer now that before. So we have been robbed of actual amount of plays and had them replaced with commercials…Awesome!

  2. I can buy all that, D, I think.

    I’m not sure why the election would distract us. One would think with this election, we’d run to football to get away. And yes, the Red Zone feeds our need for instant gratification.

    The league is torn between keeping its violence and protecting its players from having their heads taken off which is no easy task. In that sense, I don’t envy Goodell and Company one bit.

    And re: the ads, I don’t know what to suggest about that either. Corporations are paying top dollar for those spots because they know what’s when people are watching. That’s how salaries are paid and why Cam Newton can afford all those nice outfits.

  3. I understand how the commercials work. I am just saying that having 2 hours of commercials is no good to keep people interested.

  4. The violence part bothers me. Why are we protecting WRs over the middle? Don’t throw it there if you don’t want your WR getting lit up. This is the way it was forever. The QB would get chewed out by the WR for putting him in harm’s way, not create rules to change the game….for the worse. I am not saying I advocate Jack Tatum roaming around in the secondary laying waste to people with intent to injure. The game survived for decades and became popular because of violence. Split second decisions, people dropping helmets out of instinct trying to make a hit. I am not sure what DBs are to do these days about defending. Hit somebody else who isn’t aware of their surroundings and somehow the DB gets penalized. Just awful rules. Don’t even get me started on Cam Newton. The game isn’t fun for him? LOL, what a pussy. It was fine last year when he would rip open his shirt like Superman. Now his team sucks and what do you know…no fun. I agree he should have drawn a few late hits but he is whining. Defenses take notice and will go after him. I hope he is running for his life the rest of the year.

  5. It’s a big enough pie for the owners and players association to still make their money and not sacrifice the good of the game.

    You’ll always have a rogue player that’s just looking to crack someone’s skull open but if that’s the case, get them out of the league. There are checks and balances for such instances.

    I think for the most part, there exists a fraternity among players who want to get paid, put forth a good product and yes, just play football for a living.

    Injuries happen. We know this. It’s a contact sport. Just do your best to not make it worse.

    But back to the original point. Isn’t it possible that ratings are down because the football we’re watching is worse than it used to be?

  6. I disagree that the quality of NFL football has been compromised. Players are bigger, faster and stronger. Skill levels are up.
    Why is viewing down 10%? Perhaps the best World Series in years had something to do with it.
    The interpretation of the targeting rule specifically and officiating in general is not of the quality we’ve become used to. I don’t like that critical calls made late are being made by refs who were quiet the whole game.
    I think the perceived anti-American behavior of some players offended many fans.
    I think there is an abundance of bull shit commentators who bloviate ad nauseum. Matt Millen, Joe Buck, Bob Costas and Kenny Albert come to mind.
    I think commercials for the most part do not infringe on the momentum of a team’s drives.
    I think players demonstrating first downs and touchdowns have gotten out of hand again.

  7. Let’s play a little devil’s advocate, Jimmy.

    You’ll get no argument from me that the players are stronger and faster, but let’s look at two positions specifically.

    How many Hall of Fame running backs would you say are in the league right now? And how many Hall of Fame quarterbacks would you say are currently playing?

    On the flipside of that equation, how many bad quarterbacks would you say are in the league?

    Maybe I’m looking at past years with rose-colored glasses but I can’t say with any sort of conviction that the current NFL is the best it’s ever been.

    Can you?

    You’re definitely right about the Kap effect and the targeting rules, or rather interpretations.

    And I also believe the line between celebrating and taunting is not so fine.

  8. HOF QB locks are Brees, Brady, Rodgers and Ben. Wilson and Eli on the bubble. Running backs have been replaced by bubble screen receivers for yardage gained beyond the line of scrimmage. Two reasons: it is immediately one on one at the LOS. Secondly, linemen on both sides of the ball are so big it is hard to find the interior creases to run through. I don’t care if these clowns taunt. In so doing, they only hurt themselves. When dancing, I think I’m watching an inferior “Dancing With The Stars!” Bad QB’s don’t last long. Bortles, Gabbert, Geno Smith hang for a bit then expire. Carr, Mariota, Cousins look to have staying power.

  9. Jimmy…

    While I wholeheartedly agree with you on Brees and Brady, I wouldn’t put them in the modern quarterback class. Those guys are getting to be yours and my age.

    I’d give you Eli, probably Big Ben and I guess Aaron Rodgers although this year, ugh.

    After that, which younger QBs are at least on their way to greatness? Russell Wilson? Sure. Cam? I suppose. Derek Carr? Still too early to tell, no? Luck was supposed to revolutionize the game? What the hell happened to that?

    Look, I still love the game. And I’m watching every Sunday. I just don’t know that this is the best the NFL has ever been.

    And I’d love to see what the average career of a running back was ten years ago as to what it is today.

  10. Chris, the top ten running backs in 2005 combined for 15,159 yards. Ten years later, last year, that number had dropped to 11,137. One might conclude from those numbers that today’s backs aren’t as good. I maintain that drop was due to less running plays and many more bubble/under screens.

  11. Let’s face it, the league is showing too much skin, IOW overexposure. Do we really need Thurs, Saturday(late season), Sunday day & nite, Monday nite and early hangover starts from Europe? Even too much sex with a hot partner gets blase.

    How ’bout underachieving millionaires disrespecting our country and their boss’ product on company time?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*