Remember the expression best used to describe the Pittsburgh Steelers powerhouse teams of the Bill Cower era, 'three yards and a cloud of dust'? Well, let's just say that it no longer applies in today's NFL as teams around the league have taken to the air in record fashion.
With all the recent rules changes over the last decade, the NFL has slowly and methodically opened up offenses to the point that passing isn't just an option, it's a must if you want to compete. If you're not airing it out then you're not doing something right!
Case in point was week 1 of this years NFL season.
As a whole, the league set a record for the number of total passing yards ever in one week with 7,842 (and that's with Donovan McNabb inexplicably only passing for 39 yards!). Individually, Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, thought of as more of a rushing QB, amassed 422 yards in the air, breaking the rookie record for passing yards. Also, the Monday night game between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots saw the two quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Chad Henne, combine for an NFL record 906 net yards passing. In total, 14 QB's passed for over 300 yards in the first week of the season.
Remember when 300 yards passing was considered an extremely good game? I do. Now it's almost expected and if your not doing it, you're not considered to have a great offense.
This is exactly what the NFL wants. It wants a high scoring, high flying game that will keep fans riveted to their seats. Defensive battles that yield 10-7 games are a thing of the past and while the occasional one is welcome, that is not what the league wants. The unfortunate drawback to this is that classic runners such as Jim Brown, Jerome Bettis and even Eddie George are going to be a thing of the past. Teams are looking at the Ray Rice, Reggie Bush, and Darren Sproles type of players. Fast small guys who are more of a receiving threat that anything else.
That's not a horrible thing but it's always sad to see an era end and the era of the single power back is fast coming to a close.
The NFL, like anything else, is a league that is based on trends and the trend now (induced by the NFL) is that you must pass the ball repeatedly and effectively if you want to survive. Is it good for the game, yes, but let's hope that we've seen the limit of the NFL's rule tampering to promote it because there can be too much of a good thing.
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