As we are inching closer to the kickoff to the NFL football season in Philly, I was discussing the new catch rule, and why its not as great as it seems. The new catch rule is going to continue to hurt the game. The NFL in the name of safety has naturally shifted some from the defenses that rely on hitting hard to separate the ball from the offensive player. This I understand as a mechanism to reduce the violent collisions to players who otherwise have no way to brace for the hit. This has caused a natural shift to offensive players more as defenders have more limited tools to force an incompletion.
This year, there have been two major rule changes that continue this paradigm. The new helmet rule and catch rule continue to extend favors to the offense and limit the
defense. This is going to create paradigms where talented players will no longer want to play defense. Defensive players will become more dispensable and hurt the overall quality. This is leading to defensive players struggling to get paid higher contract for their talent. League executives are seeing the rules diminish their ability to impact games and are investing in pass catchers and passers while leaving high quality defensive players on the low. If that continues younger talented players will shift to positions that are perceived better creating imbalance. With that, this is why the new catch rule sucks already.
Imagine the idea of a game of keep it off the ground. Where its more than just “catch the ball”, but also don’t let it touch the ground. This idea gives defenders a new safer way to attack receivers without having to hit them as hard as they can. Hand fighting after catch and forcing offensive players to hold onto the ball and keep it off the ground adds an element of balance to the league without alienating talented defenders or the value of the defense. If the rules continue to favor offenses more and more the NFL risks becoming more of an arena football game than NFL football game. The separation was the defense and the talent on defense. The league should get creative with the rules to keep balance to the league, or it will lose a big portion of what has made it popular, all-time talented defensive players. That also means the hotly debated catches like Calvin Johnson’s and Dez Bryant’s would indisputably be incompletions.