This was a particularly great read from ESPN this morning. The topic is how NFL offenses are simply outpacing defenses right now and exploring how teams are trying to catch up defensively.
Here's an excerpt from the article:
"Based on our interviews, at least, it appears NFL teams are shifting their defensive priorities to compensate. Pass rush now dwarfs coverage in terms of importance, but teams are emphasizing coverage skills at supplementary positions more than ever, especially at linebacker and safety, in the draft.
"We can have all the DBs we want," said Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak, "but if we can't make the quarterback get rid of the ball, it doesn't matter. So [it] starts with pass rush all the time."
Pagano, the coach who watches taller receivers arrive at the scouting combine every year, said: "I think you find that people are trying to put more pressure on the quarterback and not giving quarterbacks a chance to get comfortable in the pocket. People are trying to dictate the tempo. That's the biggest thing.
"Eventually everyone is going to try to find the guy on their team that can match up on the outside. They'll try to find at least one cover guy or a true cover guy. They'll say, 'Here's our No. 1 corner, go take out the best receiver that they've got.' Match him up that way. But I go back to trying to dictate the tempo of the game and getting pressure."
That, of course, is easier said than done. Elite pass-rushers are among the NFL's rarest commodities, leaving many teams to devise elaborate blitz packages to compensate.
"Defenses have to find a way to get pressure on the quarterback with only four pass-rushers," an NFC executive said. "If you're sending linebackers or defensive backs as blitzers, you're going to get torn apart."
That's true especially when facing elite or near-elite quarterbacks who understand the vulnerabilities of various blitz packages. So what's the answer? For obvious reasons, coaches were loath to discuss schematic solutions, but Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel added some context for how a successful 2012 pass-first defense could be deployed.
A competitive defense in this era, Crennel said, must employ above-average coverage skills at most, if not all, of the seven of the linebacker/defensive back positions. They must work in tandem with a pass rush that doesn't need more than five players to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks."
I personally think the article is obviously onto something. Rules changes have made it tougher to defend NFL offenses effectively -- and the athletes are simply getting better on offense as well.
But the question to me isn't a schematic one but of whether the current direction of the game simply makes it inevitable that offenses are going to have undue advantages over the defense? Maybe that's what NFL execs want?
The suggestions thrown around by NFL Coaches tend to make sense in terms of finding ways to cover teams better with a more active pass rush, but will that be enough long term to keep offenses from going up and down the field? What if a team simply lacks that? Are we coming to the point where a elite pass rushing DE is paid just as much as an elite QB?
It's not like a 10-7 Super Bowl is going to rake in the ratings a 35-31 Super Bowl would after all.
But don't let me create a conspiracy. Let's instead discuss: Do you think the NFL's imbalance towards offenses is something that can be schematically solved or do you think the game is now structured to simply favor offenses?