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Is This The NFL's Juiced Ball Era?

We're doing a season-long NFL roundtable with our friends at Slate. Check back here each week as a rotating cast of football watchers discusses the weekend's key plays, coaching decisions, and traumatic brain injuries.

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From: Drew Magary
To: Stefan Fatsis, Tom Scocca, Nate Jackson

Are we still talking about kickers? We are? OK, well I'll go right ahead and ignore that subject because I won't be impressed by Seabass until he boots a 70-yarder and does a shot of SoCo on the sidelines afterwards.


I'd rather talk about passing records. As Scocca mentioned, Week 1 of the 2011 NFL season broke the record for most cumulative passing yards in a single week,, with games averaging 490 total passing yards. I did some research yesterday (it's true! I crunched the numbers! They were delicious!), and by the end of Sunday night, there were 11 300-yard passing performances, which was already an opening-week record. Then Monday night happened, with Tom Brady balling out of his mind and Chad Henne—Chad freakin' Henne—hanging 400 yards on the Pats defense (total tackles for Al Haynesworth: two). Throw in Kyle Orton's night and you had 14 quarterbacks going over 300 yards, nearly half the starting QBs in the league. That doubles the old record for an opening week, and it's almost certainly a record for any week in league history. And that doesn't even account for guys like Mike Vick and Ryan Fitzpatrick and Joe Flacco, all of whom had effective passing days without breaking the barrier. Passing offenses DESTROYED defenses this weekend.


There'll be plenty of teeth-gnashing over this. You'll have defenders complaining that the league has straitjacketed them. You'll have people that don't really like football (Craggs) using it as a perfect excuse to bash the league's aesthetics, saying it's just arena football now. And then you'll have people like me—people who get pissed because their fantasy team had a great week but the other guy had Tom Brady and Wes Welker and HOLY SHIT I COULD CHEW THROUGH STEEL RIGHT NOW I'M SO MAD. Personally, I think this will level out, but secretly, I hope it doesn't.


Sure, maybe it signals the end of old-school football, and maybe the game has been so wussified that it's now more like flag football than the real thing, but I'm not sure I care because LOOGIT THAT PRETTY TOUCHDOWN WHEE! Just because there were more big pass plays last week didn't mean that I found them any less enthralling. It's like college overtime or the Steroid Era in baseball: I know it's wrong, but I'm helpless to resist. And it comforts me to know that your standard bad game on any given week has a chance of being a 38-35 barnburner instead of a 6-3 death match. Those games are agonizing. I'd rather watch someone throw out a perfectly cooked ribeye steak. So if this heralds the beginning of the new Juiced Ball era in football (and everything was trending that way anyway), I'm OK with it. I can picture the Ginger Hammer and all the owners in the backrooms after the CBA was done, trying to figure out how to remain insanely profitable during a rotten economy, then someone shouted, "I know! Fifty-seven touchdowns a game!" And thus it was made so.

Nate, did you like what you saw in Week 1? Do you think it'll stay that way? Do you hope it does? ARE SMOKEHOUSE ALMONDS NOT UNDELICIOUS?


Find more of Drew's stuff at KSK or on Twitter. Buy Drew's new book, The Postmortal, through here.

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