”A Closer Look” with Mark Miller – Week 8


Week eight provided some great insight into which teams are in line to challenge for a league championship and/or a deep playoff run. Again, there were many great games and fantastic finishes this weekend. And not just high school! There were great games in college and professional football as well.

I cannot remember a day that had more high-powered matchups and great finishes than Saturday gave us. If you like lots of points and upsets, you enjoyed it like I did. That brings me to my point for this week – “What happened to defense?”.

My week 6 commentary was all about defense – the Hoover defense that pitched a shutout against a very good McKinley team. But that night was surely an exception to the norm. Usually, we see offenses dominating games. Football game scores are looking like basketball games. Offenses seem to score atwill. Just look at the Browns-Chargers game with 6 TD’s in the 4 th quarter alone! Or Oklahoma-Texas, a 55-48 final score where the defensive coordinators for each team are two of the highest paid and most respected defensive coaches in college football. Why is this happening?
There are several reasons actually. The first one most people point out is rules today favor offense over defense. This is certainly true in professional football where over the last few decades rules evolved from when hitting quarterbacks and receivers was akin to assault and battery on the streets to now when just by touching them in the wrong location or from the wrong angle can mean a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty.

Thankfully, college and high school football isn’t quite that restrictive and I must say I am all for protecting players against injury, and that is why most of these rules came about.
Another reason – young kids like to handle the ball. Therefore, they grow up wanting to throw and catch the football. Youth and high school teams use offenses that include more speed players – wide receivers rather than blocking tight ends and fullbacks. When kids throw and catch more, their skills improve and we see the result of those years of practice on Friday night when each team has multiple kids that can make great offensive plays with the ball. Scoring points is fun! Kids get to celebrate, hear their name announced and get awards for gaining yards, making catches and scoring points. And if kids don’t have fun, they won’t play. Fans like it too. Who wouldn’t rather see a 35-34 game more than a 7-6 game? Both are close, hard-fought 1 point games but there is no comparison for excitement. Hey, soccer people, are you listening?

The NFL understood that decades ago when the Fearsome Foursome, Purple People Eaters and Steel Curtain were dominating professional football. Now the players kids know best are Mahomes, Brady, Wilson, Allen and other players putting up video game numbers each week. I still appreciate good defense and it can still win you games but let’s admit it, offense really wins
championships and fans want to see points being scored. And that is not going to change.