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NFL: Problem is getting people to believe in parity

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Whether it’s Colin Kaepernick’s political stances, Roger Goodell’s known corruption, and the lack of consistency on player safety/off-field behavior. It could simply be just a lack of interest. It just seems the National Football League is losing support. This can’t be a good sign for the NFL who is obsessed with good public relations, at ANY cost.

Since Roger Goodell replaced Paul Taglibue in 2007, you can say the NFL’s PR team has had their work cut out for them, defending their commissioner and their silverspoon owners (majority of them are, we don’t have to lie about it). ”NBC’s Sunday Night Football matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears drew in 18.62 million viewers, scoring a 6.8/21 rating in the 18-49 demographic, the group most coveted by advertisers.” (Forbes.com)

For NBC Sunday Night Football to only get a 6.8, no matter the matchup, is very disturbing. I almost wonder if there are reasons why this is happening.

98.5 the Sports Hub had Greg Bedard last Tuesday afternoon on Felger & Massarotti and this topic was discussed. Overall, a lot of fans that called in believed that they just don’t care about the games between two teams outside of their own because it doesn’t involve fierce competition and it’s not interesting. That’s just New England of course but I have three main reasons…

  1. Lack of Parity and That’s Bad Ownership

Let’s face it, it’s happening in the NBA to a greater extent, but in the NFL, a league that has always prided itself in parity according to the commissioner, it just hasn’t been that way.

Since 2000, we’ve had the Ravens win twice, the Broncos won one of two Super Bowls, New England has won four out of six, Pittsburgh has won two out of three, and the Giants won two out of three… Other than that you have teams that have been there once. I know I’m leaving teams out of this but you get the idea…

The Patriots, Colts, Broncos, and Ravens/Steelers have dominated the AFC for over a decade… The Patriots and Colts have had the luxury of generational talents like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, the Ravens and Steelers have had great defenses, and the Broncos have won in multiple ways, including a SB win with a washed-up Peyton Manning last season.

The NFC has been the Packers, Seahawks, and everybody else recently, but the NFC has been more competitive and has had better teams on a more consistent basis.

This creates the effect you’ve seen in the NBA regular season games in recent years; people just tend to tune in and out as the season goes on… In the NFL, sixteen game schedule, can’t afford to have fans go missing at times during the season…

The lack of parity comes down to the fact that the MEDIA, yes the MEDIA, has anointed the QB of each team as the most important player, and that’s simply not always true. This era of QBs is probably the weakest crop ever since the merger in 1970. If Tim Tebow can win a playoff game, you know something is wrong!

The NFL has had dynasties before, but the competition has never been this bad… The QB position is at a horrible point when it comes to talent, the difficulty of WR has dropped down in difficulty also, but who can be blamed for that?

BAD OWNERSHIPS… I can’t stress this enough! There are teams that haven’t been competitive for a whole generation, teams that have devoted fans and yet the owners of those teams simply don’t care AT ALL… One of those teams is the Miami Dolphins…

The Dolphins will so inept that Nick Saban took off for Alabama in 2007, and we all know he made the right decision, because idiots run the Dolphins! Miami has made the playoffs once since Saban’s departure and that was in 2008, when Bill Parcells was in the front office, they got ousted by rookie QB Joe Flacco and the Ravens in the wildcard round…

The Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets, Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and San Diego Chargers have had many changes in the organization since the end of Rozelle’s reign as commissioner in 1994.

Cleveland, of course, moved to Baltimore in 1996, was rejuvenated and has had a flux of new faces of leadership since 1999, their first season back.

On the flip side, you can point to the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New York Giants as organizations that have been consistent over the past decade.

This means they’ve had a competent ownership, management and scouting teams that can draft talent successfully and develop talent consistently to stay competitive for the most part. Some of these teams have suffered stretches of mediocrity, but the difference is that they’ve stuck to their principles and have seemed to pull through.

There’s also no real qualification to own a football team, I mean you’re born into wealth and never worked for anything, so why not buy a football team right? That’s what I feel happened with Dan Snyder (Redskins), Stephen Ross (Dolphins), Woody Johnson (Jets), etc.

  1. A Lack of Great Coaches In the NFL

The lack of good coaching in the NFL, I mean even coaches like Mike McCarthy, John Harbaugh, and Mike Tomlin don’t inspire me as coaches I’ll remember in a positive light and they’re regarded highly amongst those in the NFL.

How many times have we seen a lack of great coaches in the past decade? I mean in past generations we’ve seen the likes of Tom Landry, Bill Walsh, Chuck Noll, Paul Brown, and in this era we have Bill Belichick, Tony Dungy, and not much else.

I may have already mentioned the owners and their stupidity, but believe it or not, this comes down to the owners also…

Look at ANY situation where a coach and owner has feuded over the years and the majority of the time, you can blame the owner… Look at the Cleveland Browns in the 60’s! Paul Brown had coached them for almost two decades to the point, and hotshot Art Modell forced Paul Brown out as HC, and later superstar Jim Brown and down went the Browns…

Chuck Noll and Tom Landry didn’t get to leave Pittsburgh and Dallas on their own terms despite the success they brought to those franchises… The greedy ownerships had money to make and needed a young face to sell to younger fans…. It’s that simple…

Ownerships, like many employers, want a “yes man” mentality, and to be honest there’s only one NFL coach who has the attitude and ability to overstep the owner to give faith to him… That’s Bill Belichick… Mike McCarthy has no control compared to Ted Thompson, Pete Carroll has John Schneider, John Harbaugh is a puppet to Erik Decosta and Ozzie Newsome, and Mike Tomlin is simply a pawn in the Rooney monarchy…

This has led to a vast improvement among coaches at the college level, Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, Jim Mora Jr., Mike Riley, and recently Jim Harbaugh and Lovie Smith have found the college game, and many of them realize now that they can have full control of personnel and develop talent their way.

I honestly look at the coaching tendencies some of these pro coaches make and wonder if they’re really “Head Coaches” or if they’re simply just puppets to the people they work under, this can vary from the front office or even ownership.

Jim Harbaugh, Chip Kelly, and Nick Saban had major falling outs at their stints as NFL coaches. Harbaugh, who brought San Francisco back from the dead, was in a rift with GM Trent Baalke and Baalke is BFF’s with owner Jed York, who inherited his throne from uncle Eddie DeBartolo and has seemingly only given the 49ers, a new stadium, and the chance to host Super Bowl 50, otherwise the 49ers have been the definition of average. Jim Harbaugh has since brought his alma mater back to national relevance and is on the verge of getting Michigan back to a powerhouse.

Miami and the way Nick Saban left is more telling about how hopeless the Dolphins are than anything else… Ross seems to only care about money, like the rest of his other fellow delusional NFL owners club. Saban has since going to Alabama has had success only matched by the greatest coaches in the history of college football…

Look at the way the Giants, Cowboys; Tampa Bay hired their coaches in their recent firings… The Dallas Cowboys kept Jason Garrett, a longtime assistant and former backup in Dallas, as a HC. That sounds like a Jerry Jones company man, no offence. I look at the Giants, like the Steelers, as one of the NFL’s model franchises, and even the Mara’s refused to fire Jerry Reese, who hasn’t built a team for Coughlin to succeed, but hired OC Ben McAdoo because pretty boy Eli didn’t want to learn a new offense. It may look like a good move for public relations and morale but did McAdoo deserve a HC job over other assistants in the NFL? Probably not…

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers felt Lovie Smith wasn’t going to be great around the young team they have there and hired Dirk Koetter, who was the OC, the only difference is that Koetter had experience in college with Boise State’s success and he built that program… But once again the owners are OBSESSED with the QBs.

  1. According to Most of The Media, Without a Good QB, Your Team Is Considered Basically Average

Chris Simms of Bleacher Report can tell you all until his face turns blue, but none of you will buy this narrative. If you look at Denver and New England, like I have, you would know that this is not at all true, but the media half-asses the argument because the media anoints the QB like a god, a hero, or a legend.

There’s also a twist to this theory, look at big money QBs. Most of them are on teams that aren’t capable of competing at a high level (Phillip Rivers in SD, Drew Brees in NO, Andrew Luck in IND, Jay Cutler in CHI (he’s bad anyways), Ryan Tannehill in MIA (he sucks too), Eli Manning in NYG (hasn’t made playoffs since 2011), and Tony Romo in DAL (he’s been injured)).

Most of these guys have been on teams in recent years where they’ve had to carry the team around them and still can’t be better than average.

But look at the teams that go deep in the playoffs, New England has had Tom Brady, Denver and Indy with Peyton Manning, Pittsburgh has had Ben Roethlisberger, Arizona has had Carson Palmer, Seattle has had Russell Wilson, Green Bay has had Aaron Rodgers and before that Brett Favre.

These guys have been deep in the playoffs in the past couple of years with no real threat to change their status quo. That could change this year, but Denver and New England are still in good shape despite having two of the greatest all-time gone off the grid.

I still believe you can win in the NFL with a great run game, a consistent, mistake-free passing game, and a good-to-great-defense. I think Denver, New England, and Minnesota (their run game has been nonexistent for the most part) have proven that theory clear so far. Of course, there are teams like Oakland, New York Giants, and Pittsburgh where their offense has been dominant in stretches, and they’ve flourished with it.

I look at the situations these QBs are in heading into the NFL, and many coaches rush these guys onto the field. For every Carson Wentz, a rookie phenom who’s being anointed the next great one, there’s a Ryan Tannehill, shows flashes but at the end of it just lacks the maturity to take it to the next gear.

What’s the difference? It’s not so much talent, because many NFL QBs have the arm talent, it’s strictly coaching! Alex Smith was once drafted #1 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, but struggled in his early career. This was because he had so many different OC’s that he couldn’t grow under one particular playbook, also keep in mind the 49ers were and have returned to be a train-wreck. In Kansas City, he’s had Andy Reid, but even Andy Reid can’t disguise a lot of weaknesses. Either way, at least he came around.

Tim Couch was the 1st overall draft pick in 1999, unfortunately by the Cleveland Browns, he had promise, but after getting beaten up and tossed around like a rag doll, he was replaced by Kelly Holcomb and lost confidence for good. Cleveland was in no position to draft a “Franchise QB.” The same case can be made for the Texans drafting David Carr, who also went 1st overall in 2002.

The reason guys like Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, and others have succeeded despite starting out as backups were because they had the opportunity to sit behind a solid starting QB for a season and be acquainted with the offense before they ever step foot on the field.

Trever Siemian is in a very similar situation, he had two years to learn and mimic Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, has a Super Bowl ring, and now has the task of continuing the legacy. Paxton Lynch may be a first round pick, but it doesn’t look like they’ll need to rush him neither, Denver is proving my theory correct.

No one knew what Siemian would do, but now we know they’ve had confidence in him despite rumors about trading for Rams QB Case Keenum, who’s coming into his own in Los Angeles.

If more teams treated QB like another position on the field when they scout the position, and didn’t reach in the draft and/or rush them on the field, which might be because of ownership wanting to see him play and coaches on the hot seat if they don’t, we wouldn’t have such talent deficiency at the position like we do in this era.

Many previous starting QBs got to sit before they started.

Roger Staubach was behind Craig Morton, Danny White behind Staubach, Steve Young behind Joe Montana, Tom Brady behind Drew Bledsoe, Tyrod Taylor behind Joe Flacco, and heck Tony Romo sat behind Bledsoe.

I think there’s also a great point to be made about how Sam Bradford has been playing under Norv Turner’s offense in Minnesota since the injury of Teddy Bridgewater. He looks comfortable and confident again! That Minnesota team is a threat!

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com