“Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends, we’re so glad you could attend, step inside, step inside.” (Emerson, Lake and Palmer)
Move over NBA—-the NCAA and NFL are becoming the latest version of R-O-C-K in the USA.
USA football games are becoming what amounts to be NBA All-Star games.
Not a lot of defense and as whole lotta scoring, from every which way and angle.
In just a span of a week, football fans have been treated to two of the most frenzied scoring fests in NFL and NCAA history on the swift heels of the Rams’ 54-51 SNF victory over the Chiefs in Hollywood and Oklahoma’s epic 59-56 edging of the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown.
And why not?
The NCAA and NFL rules and their year-to-year neutering of defensive players has paved the way for an avalanche of offensive onslaughts. Defenders basically have to play with their hands tied and their heads at all times a good twelve inches behind their shoulders.
Six man referee crews have become every QB’s secret service agents. These refs might as well start wearing sunglasses.
Just a few short years ago many NFL head coaches such as Bruce Arian and Mike Zimmer were publicly excoriating the college game—-the absurdity of no-huddle spread offense where plays are being communicated through sideline graphics and the notion that the college game is doing little to nothing to prepare players, particularly offensive linemen, for the NFL.
But, while some coaches continued to complain and express their disdain—-other NFL coaches were thinking that maybe there was a little of genius going in these wide-open college football scoring bonanzas.
For example, a few years ago Bill Belichick invited college spread-offense guru and innovator Chip Kelly to the Patriots’ facilities. Belichich was curious to pick Kelly’s brain—-and what Belichick discovered is a fairly basic principle—-attack defenses to the side where the offense has equal or greater numbers in an effort to get fast RBs, WRs and QBs quickly into the open field where they can dazzle with RAC yardage (run after catch). To this day, Belichick credits Chip Kelly for a host of plays they added to their offense.
Just last year, in an effort to get 2nd year QB Carson Wentz highly comfortable with the Eagles’ offense, HC Doug Pederson and OC Frank Reich went back to watch Wentz’ plays at North Dakota St. and incorporated several of Wentz’s favorite ones into their own offense. Wentz was playing on an MVP level until he suffered an ACL tear late in the season. But his replacement Nick Foles also felt comfortable with the RPOs (run, pass options) that had been implemented for Wentz—-so much so that it helped the journeyman QB Foles outduel Tom Brady in the Super Bowl.
While Kelly’s tenure as an NFL head coach has been a relatively short one to date, a number of NFL teams are relying on no-huddle, hurry-up offenses in order to keep defenses on the field, to limit what defenses can do on the fly in terms of blitzes and coverage switches and to try to tire out the best pass rushers.
if you watched Oklahoma last night—-it’s no wonder why their head coach Lincoln Riley is the hottest offensive commodity in football these days—-Riley’s offense is putting up gaudy numbers in all aspects (rushing, passing, points) at a blistering pace with a swift-footed and rocket armed smurf QB and a cadre of super quick RBs and WRs (including a cousin of Antonio Brown’s, Marquise Brown)—-all thanks to a multi-talented offensive line that excels in execution.
The most extraordinary stat for Oklahoma is that they are #1 in NCAA Division 1A yardage at close to 600 yards a game—-and yet a mere 103rd in time of possession. What this means is that left and right Oklahoma is scoring on chunk yardage plays in a New York minute.
And because their defense is so porous, the Oklahoma offense and its Heisman Trophy candidate QB Kyler Murray (1st round pick of the Oakland A’s in the 2018 MLB Draft) basically know that they have to score practically every time they get the ball in order to win. And they are 10-1!
The greatest, most exciting game I have ever seen as a Cardinals’ fan was the Cardinals’ stunning 51-45 OT playoff win over the Packers—-in a game where both Kurt Warner and Aaron Rodgers knew early on that they needed to score every time they got the ball to win the game.
Warner (29/33/379/5TD/0int) and Rodgers (28/42/422/4TD/1int) put on a back and forth passing clinic—-that oddly ended after the Cardinals’ kicker Neil Rackers missed a 34 heard FG at the end of regulation—-and then after the Packers had won the toss in overtime on 3rd and 6, the Cardinals won on a strip sack of Rodgers by Cardinals 5-9 CB Mike Adams that LB Karlos Dansby scooped up and took to the house.
Today, Adams’ strip sack would have been a roughing the passer penalty because Adams hand came underneath Rodgers’ arm and briefly hit Rodgers in the face mask.
In the 2nd half, Rodgers led scoring drives on every one of his possessions...thereby forcing Warner to match. To this day, the 96 points the Cardinals and Packers scored in this game is the highest number of points in the history of the NFL playoffs.
But—-if this year’s offensive explosion in the NFL continues at this frenzied pace—-that record is bound to be broken and possibly even shattered.
Yes, the NFL has borrowed some of the marvelous offensive magic of college football—-perhaps it won’t be too long until the NFL starts donning their teams in shiny metallic helmets and an array of neon colored jerseys.
Ah...the allure of razzle dazzle...