Personally, I blame the Madden generation that equates excitement with scoring, where the game players pay no attention to the defensive aspect of the game, and call the all “9’s” shotgun formation with 5 receivers. That’s not exciting.
I don’t equate exciting football with scoring touchdown after touchdown after touchdown. I equate exciting football with battles and matchups. The shut down corner against the wide receiver, the smart physical slotback against the aggressive half back. That’s exciting to me, and that’s what the game of football was designed to be all about. The chess match between the offensive coordinator and the Defensive Coordinator, the two opposing head coaches game planning to their team’s strengths, the QB against the defense. Instead what we’ve got is basically a track meet.
In a league with a lot of unique rules like the one foot inbound for a legal catch, the receiver waggle, and the fast clock, the CFL was already a league with a massive offensive advantage over the defense, more so then the NFL for example.
But with the rule changes the game has taken a fundamental shift and not to the right side. With the no touch outside of the 5 yard boundary, it’s become a track meet with no strategy. With the waggle defenses are forced to play a softer zone or play man deep and that to me is not good football.
The other issue here is QB injuries. With the new rules defenses respond by playing near cover three zone, but they have to limit the QB’s time to make a decision so front 7’s are playing a gap cancellation +1 or +2 inside blitz, which means the pressure on the QB is coming right up the middle, this is going to lead to bigger hits on the Quarterbacks and a lot more uncontrollable injuries.
The argument for the new rules is similar to the arguments for new rules in hockey during the Deadpuck era in the NHL, however I argued that the rules didn’t really need to be changed in the NHL, the old rules needed to be enforced. Referee’s in the NHL had to be made to call the rules that existed in the NHL prior to the rule changes. Instead they created rules that put defensemen in jeopardy and the rules didn’t really open up the game or increase scoring by a massive amount. In the CFL they didn’t need to change the rules to what we have today, instead they should have done a better rule of defining and calling pass interference or illegal contact on a receiver, or offensive pass interference. Instead we get new rules that put a massive advantage on offenses and make touchdowns, something that happens instead of something that’s fought for.
The question is always going to be what changes next. When the defenses do eventually figure out how to neutralize the new rules, are we going to continue to slant the game like a drunken Las Vegas blackjack card counter? Are we going to go the path of Arena football where scoring is everything?
In terms of the new punt rules, again we’ve given a massive advantage to the return teams. Special Teams touchdowns used to be something that was a special moment when everything execution wise went well. Instead we’re now getting the Madden effect where large punt returns and punt returns for touchdowns are become common place and it removes the luster from the moment.
Too much scoring is boring to me, that’s not to say that I don’t like offensive football. Even as a long time defensive coach and coordinator in high school and now woman’s football, I appreciate a good offensive game plan that neutralizes a defenses advantages, but this to me is all about reducing defenses to pylons on the field. One of the great saying that I heard and wanted to use can be adapted to the new realities of the battle between offense and defense. To me it feels like watching Mike Tyson at his prime fighting a baby.
Where’s the battle?