[media-credit name=”Ian Sander” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]Lloyd Christmas: “I’m ready for commitment, Harry! The first time I set eyes on Mary Swanson, I just got that old fashioned romantic feeling…where I’d do anything to bone her.”
Harry Dunne: “That’s a special feeling Lloyd.”
It sure is. And this is (more or less) how I feel about the return of football. All the time, I find myself longing for Sunday, daydreaming about fantasy in class just eager to get through the week.
The 2011-2012 NFL season has not disappointed so far, starting off with a bang. There has been some killer games and moments, plenty of action and surprises, as well as record-breaking performances.
Thus far, the league’s quarterbacks — and some of their unstoppable offenses — have emphatically stolen the show through three games this season, carnivorously feasting on opposing defenses.
In week one alone, Tom Brady and Chad Henne combined for 906 passing yards, an NFL single-game record, and quarterbacks combined for 7,842 yards, more than in any other week in NFL history. Even more astounding, 14 quarterbacks passed for 300 or more yards more than in any week, and there were five games, the most in history, with two 300-yard passers.
Furthermore, an unbelievable five QBs are on pace to break Dan Marino’s single season passing record of 5,084 yards. Matthew Stafford, who has his popular breakout candidate Detroit Lions at 3-0 for the first time in 31 years, is on pace to throw for 5,210 yards. Philip Rivers is on pace for 5,221. Rookie of the Year Cam Newton (can we just give him the trophy now?) is on pace for 5,397. Drew Brees is on pace for 5,648, and finally, his royalty — coming in at 34 years of age, standing at 6’4”, weighing in 225 lbs., with long, blonde flowing locks, a beautiful wife, and sporting UGG shoes — is Tom Brady, who, after passing for 940 for two games, 1,327 for three yards through three games, is on pace to throw for a godly 7,077 yards on the season.
Those on the receiving end of this plethora of passing yards are also on their way to breaking records. Wes Welker, after last week’s insane line of 16 grabs for 217 yards and 2 TDs against the Bills, is one pace to grab 165 catches for 2,443 yards on the season — both would be NFL records. Additionally, Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace and Carolina’s Steve Smith are on pace to beat Jerry Rice’s single season record of 1,848 receiving yards.
Okay, okay. Calm down. I know, I know. It has only been three weeks. I know. Buuut stillllll. Pretty amazing. While it’s far too early to truly extrapolate and expect record-breaking performances, there is something to take away from this.
The NFL — where traditionally you need to establish the run and feature a stingy defense to succeed — has become a full-blown quarterback league. It has been headed this way for a little while now, but we are now there. You absolutely NEED a star quarterback to compete. I would rather have Tom Brady than the entire Jets defense, because the old mantra of “defense wins championships” no longer holds true. You NEED an offense capable of scoring 30 points, and that starts with a star QB.
It could be that new rule changes are protecting quarterbacks and wide receivers more than ever, and that, without pressure, the great quarterbacks of the league are able to pick apart secondaries like never before. Defenses are being effectively hindered by an increasing amount of restrictive rules. Also, offenses — with no-huddle sets and innovative formations starring empty backfields, three wide receiver sets, and pass-catching running backs and tight ends — have become so evolved, and defenses have yet to catch up. The great quarterbacks are winning the chess battle, allowing their teams to effectively take advantage of the mismatches they create.
The truly surprising part of this is that it is happening so early in the year. I mean, I thought that because of the lockout, offenses were supposed to struggle to find a rhythm and get in sync, and low scoring defensive affairs were sure to happen. Not so much. I mean, Brady came just 13 yards short of becoming the first QB to pass for 400 yards in three consecutive games. EVER. And he did it in the first three weeks, and after a lockout shortened off-season because it is an adjective training camp.
Could it be that defenses — in particular secondaries — are the units that are out of sync? There has been an abundance of blown coverages and pass interference penalties. It does make sense that the missed training camp time would hurt defenses more; a secondary unit relies more on the unity and cohesiveness of the group more than an offense. Rather than running routes with set assignments as an offense does, a defense must not only adapt to the offense, but also to each other.
Either way, the NFL does love these high-scoring affairs, as should you. So sit back, and enjoy them; unless of course you are inexcusably stuck watching a brutal 49ers/Bengals game (AKA the largest pillow fight in NFL football history). Thank God for NFL Sunday ticket.