The League

Mark Maske
Staff Writer

Mark Maske

Writes the NFL News Feed blog

What the NFL Wants

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The NFL has what it wants.

Are you going to argue with the people who run the league about how to make the sport attractive to its fans and profitable?

They have a pretty good track record in that regard, you know.

I talked to plenty of people about this subject this week after the NFL announced that it just had its highest-scoring weekend of games ever.

Some observers cited the rule changes that have been made since the 2004 season.

Others cited different reasons, like ever-more-sophisticated offenses, improved quarterback play and a lack of defensive fundamentals.

I don't pretend to be an expert about Xs-and-Os or tackling techniques, but it does seem clear to me that the game has changed since defensive illegal contact in the secondary was made a point of officiating emphasis in 2004. Peyton Manning went out that season and broke the single-season record for touchdown passes. The record was broken again last season, by Tom Brady. That's a record that had stood for 20 years until Manning broke it, and then it was broken twice in five seasons.

This season, the league has cracked down on illegal hits with fines and suspensions. Many of those fines have come from hits on quarterbacks. Meanwhile, Drew Brees and Kurt Warner could be on their way to 5,000-yard passing seasons; there's been one of those in the history of the league, that by Dan Marino in 1984.

So now defenders feel like the rules restrict their efforts to cover receivers in the secondary, and to hit the quarterback. It's not easy to play defense in today's NFL. It still can be done. It's just not getting any easier.

To the NFL rule-makers, fans want wide-open passing. They want scoring.

Have you looked at the NFL's TV contracts?

Have you looked at its TV ratings?

Have you seen its attendance figures?

These people seem to know what they're doing.

By Mark Maske  |  November 28, 2008; 10:34 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: High Scores = Big Bucks | Next: Artificial Advantages?

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