Lets Get back to basics by Jim Feist
I’ve said it for decades, football starts with solid defense, solid offensive line, a running game and a competent quarterback.
In recent years we have all seen a movement away from these fundamental principles. The trend of paying QB’s an inappropriate % of the cap money each team has available, there is little left over for other skill positions. Take for example the rookie pay scale. A few years ago, Russell Wilson was a rookie, being paid a few hundred grand a year under rookie standards. This allowed Seattle to pay skill position players big money, providing extra money for the Seahawks top flight skill position players all over the field. Wilson, who is a great talent, had a solid offensive line and great running backs behind him. This led the Seahawks to the top of the NFL. Once the rookie tag was lifted from Wilson, the Seahawks were forced to pay him a large salary to keep him in Seattle. The money had to come from someplace, so the Hawks began shedding big salaries and with those salaries they lost many quality players from the offensive line and defense.
This same scenario is playing out again this year with Sam Darold on the Jets, Josh Rosen with the Cardinals and Baker Mayfield in Cleveland. All these teams have the proverbial gun to their heads to get these QB’s on the field and hope they click.
Paying the rookie QB salary to these new players will leave a ton of cash on the table for the team’s to pay the best skill position players and surround their talented new QB’s, who can then hopefully take them to the promised land.
That is how the system works in the NFL these days, which is why high QB draft choices are pushed into playing now rather than later. Because once that rookie time period expires, the QB gets all the money, or enough of it to cut short their success.
I think one of the fixes I would make is lowering the pay scale for QB’s and spreading the wealth throughout the rest of the team. This would create more stability on each team.
Remember this, if you can’t protect your QB with a solid OL, then the QB will be limited. No QB plays well while running from a strong pass rush and no QB plays well while recovering from injury. There are exceptions, like Russel Wilson, who is physically strong enough to take hits but also slippery enough to avoid contact and deliver production with little help from his friends on the OL and RB’s. Andrew Luck was not skilled in those attributes and hence was sacked, hit and hurried over the years and he was eventually out for two years due to injury.
The NFL is a very successful business by anyone’s standards, however they are facing many difficult issues that they must address sooner, rather than later.
One of those issues is, concussions. We have all read about it, over and over. There was even a movie on the subject. The NFL has made many rule changes to try and slow the frequency of concussions occurring. Most of the rule changes have been highly criticized and difficult to enforce. We will be dealing with new rule changes again this year. The one most talked about is the new helmet rule. Already controversial and misunderstood. This rule and the way it is interpreted will change the outcome of many games and piss many fans and bettors off.