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What has happened to NFL defense?

Published 8:58am Thursday, January 12, 2012

Column: Thanks for Listening

Can we start playing defense, please?

I love football and who does not want to see a few high-scoring games, but this season was ridiculous.

Look at these stats from this past season:

• National Football League passers who topped 5,000 yards through the air in the NFL’s first 91 seasons: Dan Marino (5,084) in 1984 and Drew Brees (5,069) in 2008.

• NFL passers who topped 5,000 yards through the air in the 2011 season: Brees (5,476), Tom Brady (5,235) and Matthew Stafford (5,038). Eli Manning (4,933) fell just 67 yards of the 5,000-yard milestone, giving the 2011 season four of the six most prolific passing performances in NFL history.

• Quarterbacks who topped 40 touchdown passes in 2011: Brees (46), Aaron Rodgers (45) and Stafford (41). Brady fell just one TD shy of joining the list.

• Six touchdown passes thrown by Green Bay backup QB Matt Flynn in the season finale against the Lions, a franchise record — no small feat for an organization that boasts Hall of Fame QBs (Bart Starr, Brett Favre) and the reigning Super Bowl MVP (Rodgers). Flynn’s 480 passing yards in a single game are also a franchise record.

• 122.5: Passer rating in 2011 by Green Bay’s Rodgers, a single-season record for passing efficiency.

• 468: Completions by Brees in 2011, breaking the record of 450 set by Peyton Manning in 2010.

Let’s look at the two leading contenders for this year’s Super Bowl:

• 10,149: Total passing yards on both sides of the ball in Green Bay games in 2011 (5,161 and 4,988), easily the most in franchise history.

• 10,234: Record total passing yards on both sides of the ball in New England games in 2011 (5,257 and 4,977).

Does this mean we even need defense anymore?

I think we need to get back to the basics of football. Defense and a running game used to rule football. Now, with all the rule changes, we have records for offense tumbling.

My solution to the high scoring game is a simple three-point plan:

1. Make Tim Tebow play defense for every team.

2. Place a moat with alligators in half of the end zone so receivers stop feeling so comfortable scoring touchdowns.

3. Call holding on offensive linemen.

That should do it, don’t you think?


Playoff predictions

This weekend my picks for the NFL playoff games will be:

• Green Bay Packers over the New York Giants.

• New Orleans Saints over the San Francisco 49ers.

• Baltimore Ravens over the Houston Texans.

• New England Patriots over the Denver Broncos.


Tribune Publisher Scott Schmeltzer’s column appears every Thursday.