With last year’s lockout a distant memory, defenses had a full offseason to better prepare for the league’s high-octane offenses. Yet, the NFL’s mighty scoring machine roars on.
Teams have combined for 1,556 points so far, the most ever scored over a two-week span in league history.
“I guess it’s good for people’s fantasy teams,” said Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril.
Last year, there were 1,502 points scored over the first two weeks on the heels of the lockout that ended just in time for a crash course in training camp. This year, teams had all offseason, if fewer padded practices, to gel.
Not that it’s paid off for defenses.
The rules and regulations that govern pro football have long tilted toward offense, resulting in an aerial fireworks show that’s good for ratings _ of both the television and quarterback variety.
Add to that an eruption this season of spread offenses and the no-huddle and you get panting pass-rushers and mismatches with smaller defenders trapped on the field to face towering tight ends and taller receivers who no longer think twice about going over the middle, certain they’ll get the ball or the call.
Delivering those pinpoint passes are ever sharper quarterbacks. Six passers so far own a completion percentage of 70 percent or better, led by Minnesota’s Christian Ponder at 75.8 percent, and four more quarterbacks are within an eyelash of that lofty new benchmark.
The overall completion percentage so far is 62.6 percent. The NFL record for a season is 61.2 percent, set in 2007, according to STATS LLC.
“What this league has turned into is a spread `em out passing league,” said New York Jets defensive lineman Mike DeVito.
Three yards and a cloud of dust is out.
Now, it’s more like 15 yards and move the chains.
“That’s what fans want to see: `Oh my God, he had 187 receiving yards.’ They don’t want to see, `Man, the defense held them to 67 yards the whole game,’” said Chiefs cornerback Stanford Routt. “They want to see running backs and wide receivers dancing in the end zone.”
Defenses simply got too good for their own good.
“The three yards and a cloud of dust philosophy is much harder to make work because you can put guys in the box and make it really hard to get those three yards,” Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said. “So offenses are saying, `Rather than beat our heads against the wall, let’s spread it out where maybe I can get a matchup that’s more space for one guy to work against another guy, and now if I make a play, that three yards becomes 15.’