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Is the decline of offensive scoring in part being driven by punters becoming too good?


Big Turk
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   The reason is likely, lots of mediocre QBs that play behind  O lines that are just as bad as those QBs.
 

   There has been a dearth of quality offensive lineman in the league for what seems like decades, the same can be said for the QB position, there are a lot of average and below average  QBs out there, as well, there are a lot of coaches that aren’t particularly good at their craft. I mean face it, half or more of the teams in the league are pretty bad every year. 
 

   Now punters may be playing a part in this decline, but the bigger part, imo, is the above mentioned stuff. 

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I think the decline in scoring is driven by the defenses catching up with the offenses.   The NFL changed the rules, and how penalties are called, in ways that help offenses pass the ball.  They have protected the QBs, and they've protected the receivers.  (There's no concept call a "defenseless runner.")   Over fifteen or twenty years, the offensive coaches figured out how to take advantage of those rule changes to gain more yards and score more points.   It's exactly what the NFL wanted to have happen, because the NFL knew that an explosive game is more attractive to more viewers than a 16-9 kicking and defensive duel.  That's why there's been such a tremendous explosion in the stats.   Completion percentages are way up, and QBs sometime throw 50 TD passes.   That stuff all was unheard of.   Even the stars of the Kelly-Aikman era weren't putting up anything like the numbers passing stars do now. 

 

So, the defenses have been trying to catch up.  The game is still 11 on 11, and defensive coaches have slowly begun developing techniques to stop the offensive explosion.   One thing they did was stop being obsessed with stopping the run.   Speed and agility on defense is more important that beefy guys stuffing the line, because the offenses beat the defenses with speed and agility, not beef.    So, for example, a guy like Rousseau, whose body looks nothing like the bodies of defensive ends 30 years ago, is valuable precisely because his body ISN'T like DEs 30 years ago.  

 

Well, the defensive changes are starting to gain some traction.  McDermott is an early adopter.   One thing that he and a lot of other defensive coaches are doing is going back to cover 2 concepts to absolutely shut down the long ball.  Rule 1 is don't give up big plays, and cover 2 is a fundamentally good way to do that.   Another thing they're doing is disguise - make presnap reads difficult, and actually cause your defense to change based on what the offense does presnap.  Play zone in parts of the field and play man in other parts, on the same play.   

 

I was impressed yesterday watching the Jets and the Patriots.  They both looked a lot like the Bills on defense.  The model is have two or three studs, and eight or nine fast, agile athletes who like to hit.   Let your studs make some plays for you, and have all the other guys running around, scrambling to cover their assignments.   It works.   It forces the offense to dink and dunk up the field, and the defense is loaded with people who are attacking the dink and dunk zones.   All the while, job one is stop the explosive play.  

 

The offenses made some big leaps forward, and the defenses have been working their way back into the games.  The playing field is getting pretty level again, and eventually the defenses will be making the game boring again.  Then the league will tinker with the rules.  One rule that I think may go by the wayside is offensive holding.   Those holding penalties, on run plays and pass plays, are serious drive killers, and drives are what's necessary to keep scoring up.   The league will recognize that it doesn't make sense to allow an offensive lineman to hold the defender in front of him, but then when in a split-second the defender changes direction to chase the play, the exact same holding that was permitted now becomes illegal.  The offensive linemen will need more leeway to hold, because the strength, speed and quickness of the defenders will continue to make stops and the scores will continue to drop.  

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1 hour ago, Gugny said:

 

How significant do you think the limited practice with pads rule in the CBA is with regard to the poor O Line play?  I feel like they go hand in hand.

 


A few things:

 

1. Both kickers and punters are nothing short of remarkable these days. Guys are absolutely booming FG’s and punts.

 

2. I think there is something to practicing. Unsure if it’s points scored because I think there is a lot of sloppy football these days which can creat high and low scoring games. But I don’t think it’s a with/without pads issue. I think it’s pure quantity of practice time. Guys are basically forbidden from team facilities for huge portions of the calendar year. I’m the next CBA I’d be willing  to halve the total padded practices to get these guys back in team facilities 30-40 hours per week starting May 1. Even 4 x 6 hour days starting then would be huge for the game. 


No reason these guys can’t be running plays in shorts, doing drills, working with trainers, lifting weights, and watching film together. 

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36 minutes ago, BobbyC81 said:


There are many factors like reduced practiced times & practice with pads, teams not using star players in preseason games, and vanilla game plans in preseason games.  With the latter, schemes and plays are only tested in practice until the regular season games.

 

The main factor may be the 2 deep zone.  Teams aren’t getting as many big pass plays vs this defensive scheme.  They have to “matriculate” down the field on long drives with lots of check downs and other short passes, which takes a lot of time off the clock.  We’ve seen the Bills have several 8 and 9 minute drives.  Those are huge chunks of a 60 minute game.  When those long drives don’t result in touchdowns (Ex: Miami game), scores are going to be lower.

 

So, will the NFL now create new rules to increase scoring?  Maybe force the safeties to be within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage until the ball is snapped?  Any violation is a defensive illegal formation penalty.  We shall see.  
 

Remember that the NBA banned zone defenses,  college basketball established a shot clock and the NHL banned the NJ Devils trap defense in attempts to create more scoring.  Now, MLB is talking about banning shifts.

There's little need to ban tactics in my opinion, because coaching and talent will always evolve to create a new meta in the gap the previous one left. There have been massive shifts very recently in the current NFL meta from having multiple full D-line rotations, to going for it on 4th down, using WRs as running backs, etc. Brett Kollman had a great video on how the Dolphins have been solving the Bills offense over the course of a couple seasons that came out before our most recent loss to them and it was enlightening to see the kinds of work coaches put in, but you still need the talent to do it.

I don't know what the next iteration of the league will be, but I'm pretty certain that it can happen on its own without the need to change the game. Rule changes have had a massive impact on the game we have today, but almost all of them came from a place of avoiding injury. As a result, offenses were completely opened up and defenses were put on their heels. For a while now, playing defense has almost become unfair to the defender. Talent is starting to catch up and one of the best eras in QB history has recently closed, so it's no surprise that some variance is occurring.

Also, the NHL never banned the trap. They just opened up the game around it to make it less optimal.

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1 hour ago, Big Turk said:

The NFL for a second year in a row is facing declining offensive scoring and production.  Part of this is driven by bad QB play, but I have to think part of this also is driven by punters becoming really good.

 

Analytically, every yard on the field is worth "x" amount of points gained or lost on an average drive, meaning it is typically harder to score the farther you are backed up(well...except maybe if you are the Bills).

 

I can't ever remember as many punts that have been bombed on a regular basis as what I am seeing this year. Even against the Bills, the D gets a stop and I think they will have great field position and then the punter bombs the balls and instead of starting at the 40 we are starting at the 15 because we either have to fair catch it or it gets so much hang time that our returner barely has time to do anything before the defending players are on him.

 

Looking at league leaders(which the Bills still don't have a qualifying player for), there are 5 players averaging more than 50 yards a punt and we have played the top two in Stonehouse and Townsend with Tennessee and KC respectively. The lowest punter is Matt Haack and he is averaging 43.9 yards, which is pretty high for a lowest player...

 

Funny to think about punting being so good as being a reason why offense is down, but I think this may be something to watch going forward.

 

Not that the Bills would know. 🤣


how have you followed football? 
 

Scoring always goes down in mid October as opponents have actual game film to study, add in injuries and you get the 🆘 

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6 hours ago, Big Turk said:

Currently the top 3 punters in the NFL would all have broken the all time single season punting record and we have 6 of the top 20 punting averages in NFL history this year. So there really is no debate that punters are booting the hell out of the ball now more than ever,

 

Look at Slinging Sammy Baugh as the all time single season punting leader way back in 1940!  That is impressive as hell, and he wasn't a bad QB either...for 1940 that is.

 

image.thumb.png.13ddbf5416878cdd7c8c297a0ff4d768.png

 

 

Yes, they're punting better than ever. No, it's not having a very big effect on scoring.

 

Last year, the highest net punting average is 46.3 yards and average is around 42.. That's terrific, historically. But it's always been in the last twenty or thirty years it's always been very high 30s. So that's around 3 - 5 extra net yards per punt. This year there are two guys above that high figure, one with 49.8 and one with 47.3. The average is probably around 43. Is that partly because of good weather? Maybe. In any case, with teams averaging around 3 - 4 punts a game, we're talking about maybe an extra ten yards of field position. Maybe.

 

That's not going to have much impact on scoring.

 

I'd bet average drive start isn't significantly different this year, though I'm not signed up to Football Outsiders so I can't check.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Shaw66 said:

I think the decline in scoring is driven by the defenses catching up with the offenses.   The NFL changed the rules, and how penalties are called, in ways that help offenses pass the ball.  They have protected the QBs, and they've protected the receivers.  (There's no concept call a "defenseless runner.")   Over fifteen or twenty years, the offensive coaches figured out how to take advantage of those rule changes to gain more yards and score more points.   It's exactly what the NFL wanted to have happen, because the NFL knew that an explosive game is more attractive to more viewers than a 16-9 kicking and defensive duel.  That's why there's been such a tremendous explosion in the stats.   Completion percentages are way up, and QBs sometime throw 50 TD passes.   That stuff all was unheard of.   Even the stars of the Kelly-Aikman era weren't putting up anything like the numbers passing stars do now. 

 

So, the defenses have been trying to catch up.  The game is still 11 on 11, and defensive coaches have slowly begun developing techniques to stop the offensive explosion.   One thing they did was stop being obsessed with stopping the run.   Speed and agility on defense is more important that beefy guys stuffing the line, because the offenses beat the defenses with speed and agility, not beef.    So, for example, a guy like Rousseau, whose body looks nothing like the bodies of defensive ends 30 years ago, is valuable precisely because his body ISN'T like DEs 30 years ago.  

 

Well, the defensive changes are starting to gain some traction.  McDermott is an early adopter.   One thing that he and a lot of other defensive coaches are doing is going back to cover 2 concepts to absolutely shut down the long ball.  Rule 1 is don't give up big plays, and cover 2 is a fundamentally good way to do that.   Another thing they're doing is disguise - make presnap reads difficult, and actually cause your defense to change based on what the offense does presnap.  Play zone in parts of the field and play man in other parts, on the same play.   

 

I was impressed yesterday watching the Jets and the Patriots.  They both looked a lot like the Bills on defense.  The model is have two or three studs, and eight or nine fast, agile athletes who like to hit.   Let your studs make some plays for you, and have all the other guys running around, scrambling to cover their assignments.   It works.   It forces the offense to dink and dunk up the field, and the defense is loaded with people who are attacking the dink and dunk zones.   All the while, job one is stop the explosive play.  

 

The offenses made some big leaps forward, and the defenses have been working their way back into the games.  The playing field is getting pretty level again, and eventually the defenses will be making the game boring again.  Then the league will tinker with the rules.  One rule that I think may go by the wayside is offensive holding.   Those holding penalties, on run plays and pass plays, are serious drive killers, and drives are what's necessary to keep scoring up.   The league will recognize that it doesn't make sense to allow an offensive lineman to hold the defender in front of him, but then when in a split-second the defender changes direction to chase the play, the exact same holding that was permitted now becomes illegal.  The offensive linemen will need more leeway to hold, because the strength, speed and quickness of the defenders will continue to make stops and the scores will continue to drop.  

 

 

This makes sense to me.

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I was actually going to make a post yesterday about the KC punter yesterday.  Lordy, he was unreal, and flipped the field several times. Frankly if KC had won, I think he would have deserved the game ball, even over Kelce.

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I love defensive battles, I am glad that defenses have regained some power this year, 2020 football was almost unwatchable for me, I got the impression that defense had no tools to stop those high powered offenses.

 

In my opinion there are several factors why defense has better results this year, one is that referees are allowing hand fighting between WRs and DBs which is a good thing, DBs are not penalized unless they grab opponent jersey or they push with the arm full extended. This is the right way to officiate.

Also bang bang contact between WRs and Safeties is allowed when WR is getting the ball, again this is good in my opinion.

Also zebras are lookin WRs, and especially TEs that create separation by pushing at the top of the route, calling OPI more often than not.

 

I don't think that low scoring is due only to defense winning, part of the reason is also long sustained drives by offenses.

The good way to check offense "winning" is not how many points it scores, but the success percentage.

 

For example KC scored "only" 20 points against the Bills last Sunday, breakdown of the drives is the following:

10 drives

2 Touchdowns

2 Field Goals

1 Missed Field Goal (from the 51)

3 Punts

2 Interception (1 in the End Zone after a long drive, defense got the final word, but was "losing" for most of the drive)

 

So it is true that KC scored only 20 points, but it scored on 4/10 of drives (either TDs and FGs).

This is a remarkable result for Bills Defense, because KC is one of the best, if not the best offense in the league, but the offense/defense "winning percentage" was pretty even.

If the drives were 12, 13 instead of 10, with the same scoring, we should state that defense was really dominating.

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