Overtime Tweaks and the Decline of Defense

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Depending on your fan allegiance, you either reveled in yesterday’s approval of the New Overtime Rules by the NFL owners, or you just kind of didn’t care.  Or, like me, you were rigidly against any changes, having seen defenses so drastically undervalued throughout the league for decades that they cannot be counted on to perform a single stop against any opponent when it matters most.

Yes, the new rules only apply to the playoffs – for now.  In a sense, that’s worse, because it adds another layer of protection for offenses.  The sense of “everyone gets a turn” may apply in Pop Warner, or even in the NCAA.  But in the NFL, where 11 starting defensive players on the roster are being paid millions of dollars each to presumably make that single stop, it’s suddenly unacceptable to depend on them to DO THEIR JOBS.

The gradual erosion of defense is no secret; the NFL has been advocating for more points and offense for decades and has effectively sabotaged defensive contact rules beyond recognition to enable the transition.  The timeworn clichés about getting penalties for breathing on a wide receiver are sadly evident in reality these days, as are 15-yard penalties for lightly brushing against a quarterback, even if momentum allows no other course.

Proposals like this are just another avenue towards creating permanent imbalance between offense and defense in the NFL.  We’ve come too far to turn back now, of course – newer fans are now accepting of the current scenario as the only sort of football they know, which is unfortunate.  There was a time when defense mattered, not who held the ball last.

Do better, NFL.



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