Here’s the goal: The NFL should work to ensure that the highest number of teams have a good OL (or something similar like insuring that most teams have a competent OL at least). This thought occurred to me while listening to Mark Schlereth’s comments, regarding the declining NFL viewers. If I recall correctly, he mentioned that the quality of play has diminished, and he pointed to the OL play, mentioning you don’t notice the OL when they don’t play well, but you do, when they perform badly. While I think this is true, for me, I’m actually noticing good OL play because it seems more like the exception rather than the rule. (Well, maybe the bigger reason is that good OL play stands out in contrast to the Seahawk OL.) This is really bad for the league, and it’s believable that this has lead to declining interest. For me, bad OL play makes football almost unwatchable. On the flip side, good OL–even dominant OL play–makes for better offense, and I assume fans like that. I would much prefer more offense due to good OL play rather than adjusting rules to help the offense.
If I’m right, how exactly would the NFL go about trying to achieve this? Here are some ideas:
- Change the CBA to allow for more practice time. This seems especially crucial since colleges supposedly aren’t doing a good job of developing linemen;
- Increase the talent pool for linemen. One way to do this is to create a developmental league, with special emphasis on developing the OL. Another idea is to send NFL OL coaches to provide workshops to college and pop warner leagues. These coaches can not only train players, but help develop line coaches.
I spoke about not wanting to change rules to give more of an advantage to the offense, but if nothing else works, I’d considered changing rules to help the offensive linemen.