As we all know, the NFL is cracking down on defenders laying "illegal" hits on offensive players. James Harrison's $75,000 fine shows how serious they are and how harsh they will be if they deem a defender the deliverer of an illegal hit. Last Thursday the NFL released a player safety video that distinguished a legal hit from and illegal hit, and sent it to all 32 teams. Some of the legal hits were still questionable, like Jarad Page's deemed "clean hit"... but Page got flagged at the time the hit happened. The video may have caused more questions than it answered. More after the jump...
ESPN, as well as last Sunday's NFL on CBS crew was kind enough to point out several times where defenders pulled off on hitting guys. We saw clear proof from the Buffalo vs. Baltimore game where players avoided contact... and from my memory at least one TD was definitely given because of it. We also saw James Harrison overreact and completely avoid contact on one play. So this got me thinking... what will this do to the NFL in terms of points scored? Will offenses flourish under this new emphasis on illegal hits? Or are fans overreacting in thinking this will cause the NFL to become the National Flag League?
The easiest way to check this was to look at the total points scored by the entire NFL each week... Here they are:
- Week 1: 585 total points.
- Week 2: 663 total points.
- Week 3: 694 total points.
- Week 4: 578 total points.
- Week 5: 635 total points.
- Week 6: 619 total points.
Before we add up Week 7's total points (the week following the emphasis and player safety video), let's average the first 6 weeks out. 3774/6 = 629 points per week average. Also worth noting is that the week that caused the up stir, week 6, was the 3rd fewest points scored by the league in the first 6 weeks. That probably means nothing, and there are a lot of variables that go into this, but I'm just throwing that out there.
Ok, on to week 7's total points scored: 737. That's 108 more points than the first 6 week's average. This may or may not mean anything. Obviously things like Oakland's insane thrashing on the Donkeys and the 9 INTs returned for TDs last week have to be taken into account. You could probably come up with a closer stat for this by throwing out the highest points scored by a team each week, or figure out how many INTs get returned for TDs on a weekly average, but I'm at work, and don't have time to get that deep into this right now. Even still... this is something that I think we should start watching. Remember... 629 was the magic number for the first 6 weeks.
I think the highlights I mentioned above might have been a bit of an overreaction by some defenders. They were just shocked with the possibility of big fines and suspensions 3 days before their next game. I imagine we'll see them settle into a comfortable medium... but I'm not sure how long that will take. I can say this as a Chiefs fan: I like the way we play defense. Haley said that this emphasis on the ruling wouldn't change the Chiefs way of playing, and I believe it. The Chiefs are being coached to play with fundamentals. Our CBs are blanketing WRs, and they fight for the ball more than try to lay a big hit. Our LBs seem to be wrapping up and using proper tackling technique right now. The Chiefs, I don' think, will be overly affected by this new emphasis on illegal hits.
Keep an eye on this folks... I know I will.