Sub par Defense This Season Means One Thing: Protecting the Money-Makers

Abrahim Karzai, Staff Writer

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Look, I get it. Professional football has been centered around offense for quite some time. And I understand that NFL fans crave the shootouts more than the defensive struggle. I do too. When our fantasy teams light up the scoreboard and give us the chance to talk smack to our classmates, coworkers, and lovable cousins, we all win. However, with great enjoyment comes a sad realization: NFL defenses have been subpar this season.

While the public is buzzing from the elusive plays of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes or the game to game offensive outbursts of the Los Angeles Rams, one must examine it from the other side of the coin – or football – to see the damage it is doing to the quality of the game.

It does not help defensive players’ causes that the rules have clearly been stacked against them. It seems we see the yellow flag highlight on our television screens after every other play followed by the dudes in black and white saying, “Automatic 1st down.”

There has been a, let’s call it a slight emphasis, on defensive penalties this season, especially roughing the passer. Through 93 games played this season, Roughing the Passer had been called 51 times. This has amounted to a grand total of 657 yards gained by the offense. But that is just peanuts compared to the amount of yardage given up due to Pass Interference. With 82 of these infractions called and only 6 declined, there have been 1,384 yards given to the league’s offenses.
This is not a new struggle for defensive players. In fact, over the past few seasons, it’s been the norm. For a while it seemed as though there were two or three pass interference calls every game. As for Roughing the Passer, the league has clarified that the language in the rule book has not changed for a few years, but that does not mean that the rulings on the field are the same. There has been a clear emphasis regarding the use of “body weight” by a defender when hitting the quarterback. Before I go any further, let’s not pretend the league is doing this for the overall safety of the game. No, the real goal is to protect their real money-makers in terms of ratings and overall buzz: Quarterbacks.

This reached its apex last fall when, on a glum October afternoon, Anthony Barr forced Aaron Rodgers to the ground in what seemed like a textbook sack. Except the fact that Rodgers’ collarbone snapped, resulting in a lost season for the Packers. Since this day, Roughing the Passer has been called more than usual and a greater emphasis has been placed on how defensive players tackle the quarterback.

Is it wrong to protect quarterbacks? No. But the league must either clarify or adjust the rules to properly keep their players safe without shifting the rulebook in favor of offensive players too far. Until then, enjoy the voices of NFL officials because we’ll be hearing them just a tad bit more.

 

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