Cory's Corner: It's Time For Defenses To Catch Up

The offensive game has been cute, but I want to see football again. 

The pendulum has been in the offense’s favor for over 17 years now. 

It’s time for the pendulum to swing back in the defense’s favor. 

In 2004, the NFL cracked down on pass interference and illegal contact, pretty much extinguishing the physical cornerback from the game. That rule change led to the current NFL, which sees high-flying offense sling it all over the yard. 

There have been 88 300-yard passing games this year — and that’s including Andy Dalton’s 317-yard showing at Detroit on Thanksgiving. Heck, rookie Davis Mills has two 300-yard games for the apathetic Texans. 

I get it. The NFL treats the game like a TV show. And the best way to get eyeballs from the casual fan is to make scoreboards use every wattage of electricity. The casual fan craves offense because if they sit down and see a 35-31 game or a 13-10 contest, which one do you think they are going to watch?

But does that make the game better? 

Tom Brady was shut out for the first time in 15 years vs. New Orleans on Sunday. But the main story coming out of that game is how Brady wants the rules to be changed. He thought that the tackle that caused Chris Godwin’s right ACL to tear was illegal and wants to talk to the competition committee about it in the offseason. But like Brady mentions below, the reason so many penalties are being called is due to offensive mistakes.

The question is, what is there to talk about? The reason why so many defensive players are tackling low is because they cannot go high anymore for fear of helmet-to-helmet contact coupled with a penalty and a potential league fine. 

Remember when former Packers safety Chuck Cecil would lick his chops when he saw someone come over the middle? He let the opposing team know that if you come across the middle, prepare to pay for it. Obviously, Cecil took it a step or three too far at times, but just think if that kind of play happened now?

Those days are sadly gone. And don’t even get me started on the quarterback. It seems like whenever the quarterback hits the ground now, he is scanning the turf to see if there is yellow laundry on the field. There have been more egregious roughing the passer penalties in the last couple seasons than I want to remember. 

I understand that the quarterback is the most important player in all of sports, but that doesn’t make him impervious to injury. He is playing the game like anyone else on the field. And it’s pretty much impossible for a guy built like Aaron Donald who’s 6-foot-1 and 280 pounds, to pull up a moment before the quarterback lets go of the ball. 

The game is being played on another level right now. Players are bigger, stronger and faster. Offenses are getting more and more complex. There’s a reason why Brady can conceivably play into his 50s and it’s because he rarely gets touched. 

We all want to celebrate Cooper Kupp for getting 122 catches. He’s a solid receiver, but with defensive backs not being able to do much, 160 is completely attainable. The record that really stands out to me is Marvin Harrison’s 143 catches in 2002. He had to scratch, claw and basically fight to get open.

The NFL cares a lot about the bottom line. That is evident in the Thursday, Sunday, Monday and Saturday slate at the end of the season. 

But when is it time to worry about the game itself? How much offense is too much? 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

4 points

Comments (26)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Since'61's picture

December 25, 2021 at 07:27 am

Merry Christmas to all our bloggers, CHTV contributors and staff members. Enjoy, be safe and Go Pack Go!
Thanks, Since ‘61

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scullyitsme's picture

December 25, 2021 at 08:19 am

Congratulations Cory, you now can receive your official fuddy duddy diploma from all of those at cheesehead tv for this thesis in fuddy duddyness. Merry Christmas

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Coldworld's picture

December 25, 2021 at 08:20 am

“ It’s time for the pendulum to swing back in the defense’s favor.”

Yes! An even competition between a back and a receiver is much more entertaining. Other than strictly long term health issues, football needs to remain a physical battle and one where defenders are given a fair chance and offensive players have to win by dint if more than just their offensive status.

Football is a game of attrition: teams that win should have to show depth and an ability to deal with absences. It all adds to the challenge of building and coaching a roster. If football becomes over protective of offensive players the game will shrivel.

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NitschkeFromTheGrave's picture

December 25, 2021 at 08:39 am

Ooooooh the warm and fuzzy feelings that popped in to memory when the article reminded me of Chuck Cecil's crushing takedowns if a receiver dared catching a ball coming across the middle.

Mamby-Pamby arm tackling was never an issue.

When will the Packers saddle up another feared hitter? Chuck brought game and raised the level of play with team mates. Yes, the D needs to catch up.

It's sad but the rules have changed and the game has been watered down so much, if Chuck were playing in 2021, he'd likely be fined every game. But in his day Packer fans didn't worry much about middle coverage.

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Since'61's picture

December 25, 2021 at 09:17 am

Cecil was fun but Nitschke was the game wrecker. The unquestioned leader of the greatest defensive unit of all time.
9.7 PPG in 10 post- season games. None better.
Thanks, Since ‘61

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NitschkeFromTheGrave's picture

December 25, 2021 at 09:32 am

You are 110% correct. Ray Nitschke was most feared, just his presence on the field brought an intimidation that was never matched. But that was several eras from where the article was speaking. I was merely kudoing Cory's post.

Thank you for bringing that up, It's good history for those who never saw Ray play.

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Guam's picture

December 25, 2021 at 09:32 am

I often disagree with Cory, but on this topic I agree wholeheartedly. I would much prefer to watch a 13 - 10 game than a high scoring one. The pass defenders have little chance today and it has become an unfair contest in the secondary. I would much prefer to see the rules revert to the days when a DB could chuck a receiver as long as the ball wasn't in the air. That eliminates many of the "timing" routes and makes receivers work to get open.

I know it will never happen and that I am being a "fuddy-duddy" (per Scully), but I am tired of the aerial circus.

Merry Christmas one and all! Go Pack Go and beat the Browns!!!

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packanimal's picture

December 25, 2021 at 09:02 am

I agree about allowing contact until the pass is in the air.

In addition, why not make pass interference a 15-yard penalty like in college? The idea of a 50-yard penalty for a little hand fighting or other minimal contact seems wrong, especially when there's so often no assurance that the receiver would have caught the pass, and very especially on the frequent PI calls in which the pass is 10 yards over the receiver's head or otherwise uncatchable. That last type of situation isn't supposed to draw a penalty, but still gets called with some regularity.

Setting aside the complaining for a second, Merry Christmas to all. Really glad to have a game at Lambeau today, and with Kenny Clark back.

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Since'61's picture

December 25, 2021 at 09:12 am

“We didn’t play no mamby-pamby football.”
Dave Robinson, when asked what it was like to play in Lombardi’s defense. Thanks, Since ‘61

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TarynsEyes's picture

December 25, 2021 at 09:21 am

When things go past the point of no return, and the NFL has gone past that point. the past is now nowhere in the future since erasing the past is now a huge part that dictates today's society.

Merry Christmas!!!

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Johnblood27's picture

December 25, 2021 at 10:10 am

You are spot on Taryn.

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TheBigCheeze's picture

December 25, 2021 at 09:24 am

Officiating is a JOKE!!....we need a challenge rule for ANYTHING!!...🧀🧀🧀

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Johnblood27's picture

December 25, 2021 at 10:12 am

When a challenge for anything is a good idea (and it unfortunately IS) the league has gone waaaaaaay to far in applying ambiguous, worthless rules to a GAME THAT DOESN'T NEED THAT MUCH REGULATION.

Houston, (New York-NFL Headquarters) WE HAVE A PROBLEM!!!

3 points
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jont's picture

December 25, 2021 at 09:24 am

Yes, the NFL sees the games as entertainment and needs to take a step back from this view. It distorts everything.

You're right about the rules favoring offense and passing-- no doubt about it-- and it's a lot more than this. NFL highlight reels are flashy, quick edits, and loud music over the description of the play. Games shown on NFL Network have louder crowd noise than other broadcasts. The booth on MNF is a clown show year after year with less than half of the talk about the game in front of them. Schefter, that fat bald one, and other gossip columnists are on air more and more. "That pass had only a 24.668% chance of being caught!"... what?

Fuddy-duddy enough for you?

But it's long term bad for the NFL. More and more like the NBA, they're losing what makes football a special game.

(PS: For Christmas my son gave me a bound copy of everything the New York Times has ever printed about the Green Bay Packers. Goes back to a 1929 victory over the Giants.)

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TheBigCheeze's picture

December 25, 2021 at 09:27 am

Ahh... football IS entertainment...if they would cut out more of the ticky-tack penalties, it would be more entertaining...🧀🧀🧀

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NickPerry's picture

December 25, 2021 at 09:26 am

The plays that drive me absolutely bat shit crazy are the roughing the QB penalties being call when the defensive players FINGER TIPS GLANCE off the top or side of the QB's helmut. I mean are you kidding me?? What's funny is the QB didn't even know he was touched because he couldn't even feel it.

QB's are over-protected and the NFL has made it IMPOSSIBLE to play Defense, especially CB. It is what it is and I don't see the NFL going backwards when it comes to this stuff. I can only hope they don't continue to mess with the product and make it unwatchable.

My Christmas wish on the football field today is SOLID Packers Defense, with some nice CLEAN hits on Baker Mayfield, and a FULL 60 minutes of All Gas-No Brakes Offense. Let's see it for 60 minutes, not 30, 40, or 45 minutes but ALL four quarters, 60 minutes...

Oh, BTW...How about a game without even one ST blunder. I will NEVER understand why Tyler Ervin hasn't been brought back. The Packers can't field a goddamn punt let alone return one, let's get a guy who will at least catch the goddamn ball and maybe, just maybe, gain 4 or 5 yards on the return. Teams will continue to kickoff short of the endzone and boom skyhigh punts forcing them to either ATTEMPT to field it, or let it bounce.

HINT....LET IT BOUNCE!!!!

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Tundraboy's picture

December 25, 2021 at 09:39 am

Let it bounce and get the hell away from the ball!

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Johnblood27's picture

December 25, 2021 at 10:15 am

Got your gameface on, on Christmas morning! Get angry NIck! Welcome to my world, Football is not a game for the well adjusted...

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stockholder's picture

December 25, 2021 at 10:09 am

Offense Sells Tickets. Defense wins Championships. Chuck Cecil Could hit. But; The Rules changed that. I get the Christmas wishful thinking. Priority one is to sell Tickets. Regardless.

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GregC's picture

December 25, 2021 at 10:42 am

I'm so bored with shootouts, especially in college football, which is even worse than the NFL. I think it's gotten to the point where it's not even worth it to put highly talented players at defensive back. It's a waste of their talent. Put them at wide receiver, where they are actually allowed to use their skills. Nowadays DB is mostly for players who are too short or don't have good enough hands to play WR.

The league simply needs to back off on the way they call pass interference and roughing the quarterback penalties.

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egbertsouse's picture

December 25, 2021 at 10:58 am

I agree with this article 100%. I'll go one step further. They should also get rid of all the taunting and showboating. Football is worse than WWE at this point. Damn you Billy"White-shoes" Johnson! I watched part of the Army-Navy game, which didn't have all that showboating BS, and it was a refreshing blast from the past. I just think about what Lombardi would've done if Taylor or Hornung would have wiggled their ass in the end zone after a TD. His head would've exploded right on TV.

Yes, I am an unabashed fuddy-duddy and proud of it! Does anyone want to hear how the 3-point shot ruined basketball? Or how the DH rule screwed up baseball? Didn't think so.

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ricky's picture

December 25, 2021 at 12:12 pm

Fine, so you see a problem of the offense getting boosted while the defense is handcuffed. What is your solution? And, by the way, were you OK with Anthony Barr pile driving Rodgers into the ground and breaking his collarbone? Was that good, tough football (no flag was thrown), or unnecessary? How do you achieve competitive balance while also protecting players from getting hurt? When you have some ideas on specific rules changes, please share them.

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flackcatcher's picture

December 25, 2021 at 02:19 pm

Well, first thing I do (if I were the God of Football) would roll the PI rules back to 2010. That was the last year they were clear and both sides on the field understood them. Two, I would strip the league office from reviewing plays and leave the final word to the referee game crew on the field. Three, I would tighten up the use of hands outside the shoulder pads on both sides of the LOS. That would stop more high tackle and neck and spine injuries that the current league is seeing. Finally, I would ditch the protecting the QB rules that gives the QB at least 2 more seconds to complete his throws. If those three things were done, it would bring back the importance of both the FB and ILB to the game and allow more and better coverage of WR. More important, it would cut down on the high tackle and neck collar injuries that are happening on both sides of the LOS and force the QB to act like a more team player, than THE PLAYER needed to play the game. (I'll quit while I'm ahead :-)

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TheKanataThrilla's picture

December 25, 2021 at 12:31 pm

I totally agree that the league rules have gone too far, but I am more concerned that many of these rules just add more grey and inconsistency to the sport depending on the referee crew. These rules also give more ability for the refs to control the outcomes of games and with the large amount of $$$ in sports gambling that occurs each game that is a bad thing. I just want the rules to be fair for the players, make sense to me the viewer and be consistent from game to game and referee crew to referee crew.

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jurp's picture

December 25, 2021 at 12:52 pm

I'd love for the League to just literally throw out the entire rulebook the day after the Super Bowl, then have a committee made up of equal numbers of league and union officials to write a new rulebook with three goals:
1. Player safety
2. Simplification
3. Elimination of gray areas
I'm afraid, though, that were this to happen we would end up with either no rulebook at all because the committee can't agree or a sport that only superficially resembles football - and probably the latter.

They could at least change Roughing the Passer to Touching the Passer to better reflect the reality of what's being called. They could also change Pass Interference to Defending the Pass because that's what's being called as PI these days.

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Gee's picture

December 25, 2021 at 03:08 pm

Merry Christmas to everyone!!

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