Mike McCarthy was spot-on when he said, “I don’t think a whole lot of defense was played here tonight.”
He’s right, there wasn’t much defense in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday night with the nation watching.
But you could also expand his words to include the rest of the NFL. Defenses as a whole took a bye in Week 8. For the first time in NFL history there were four 400-yard passers including one 522-yard performance by Ben Roethlisberger.
I’m all for offensive fireworks, but it’s starting to get a bit crazy. It’s hard to put all these video game numbers into perspective if Aaron Rodgers has a quiet 418 yards.
Before the NFL put a muzzle on defensive backs and declared the pocket a no-fly zone for sack artists, a 300-yard passing game was the litmus test of an exceptional week. Now, quarterbacks that put up that number are merely met with a light shoulder shrug. Zach Mettenberger, the Titans’ sixth round backup quarterback, threw for 299 yards in his first start on Sunday.
There have been 56 300-yard passing games in the NFL through Week 8, with Andrew Luck leading the way with seven. On the surface those numbers look great in the agate page of Monday morning’s newspaper, but they aren’t real numbers. In 2003, there were a total of 60.
Remember, these aren’t the same numbers that Joe Montano or Dan Marino passed for. These aren’t even the same numbers that Brett Favre passed for during the majority of his career. Those passers had to deal with receivers getting grabbed and manhandled before even getting into their routes.
The NFL has made it a point to market offense, particularly the passing game, and this season has turned into one big seven-on-seven drill.
And that has made defenses helpless. I’ve always wondered why kids just learning the game of football choose to play defense — particularly defensive back. Because if you are good enough to make football a career, you won’t be able to show off the skills that put you in the NFL in the first place.
Ever since the NFL re-emphasized pass interference in 2004 and defensive holding this year, lots of defensive backs have been confused at what is still within the rules. That’s why Brian Dawkins, a nine-time Pro Bowl defensive back, decided to hang it up. He said that he was thinking too much about what he was allowed to do as opposed to just reading and reacting.
And we all know that the moment a football player pulls up on a play, an injury is lurking around the corner. So, in addition to guarding wide receivers as they run their routes, defensive backs must also understood how a defensive penalty can impact field position, potentially killing any chance of victory.
With the Passing Renaissance that we are now experiencing, we must give it a new set of rules. Don’t be impressed with 300-yard games anymore. They are about as commonplace as a winter flu.
Instead, move your gaze to 350 yards. There will still be plenty of quarterbacks that will throw for that number, but at least we can take out the Mettenberger Effect.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn