We are five weeks into the 2018 NFL Season and one of the biggest points of controversy is the officiating of hits on the quarterback. Over the years we have seen the job of the defense become increasingly more difficult as restrictions continue to be placed on what they can and can’t do to offensive players. The NFL clearly wants more material for Red Zone while protecting the 32 faces of the NFL. 300 years passing is the norm and if the defense farts in the direction of a quarterback in a manner that offends their nasal passages you can take the over that a flag is getting thrown. Many NFL die hards aren’t happy and all the fans of defense are ready to riot in the streets and it is quite understandable why.
After just a few weeks of the NBA preseason it is pretty clear that the NBA had a visit from the vaunted Good Idea Fairy. Adam Silver and officials have colluded with NFL top brass to give basketball fans a similar product to what we are seeing on Sundays (double offense with a side of offense) and it is hard to see how the collective changes are going to benefit the game.
Before the preseason began last month the NBA put out several new rules that would be in place at the start of the season. The big ones being that after an offensive rebound no longer will the shot clock reset to 24 seconds but instead it will reset to 14. This will in turn force quicker second chance shots and increase the number of possessions in a game which is a more than acceptable change in my book. Another was the introduction of more unambiguous wording surrounding the clear path foul. This obviously will allow for the rules around the security of fast break highlight plays to be more black and white. Security of the highlight, not the player, because let’s be honest it isn’t a safety issue it’s an unwritten rule, you don’t shove a guy in the back on a breakaway when he jumps in the air *cough cough JR Smith* you just hug him to prevent the dunk. These were two of the rules that were at the fore front of the release of the rule changes coming this season and they clearly scream “we want more offense”. There was however one new addition you may not have heard coming down the pipeline, and this one is screaming the same thing except this is the type of scream that makes that one nosy neighbor call the local top flight security guard. This year officials are going to be cracking down on players restricting an opponent’s “freedom of movement”. This simply means if I’m moving don’t touch me. As a defensive minded coach this is one of several punches in the jejunum over the years that are inevitably going to make us vomit. It started in the late 2000’s when the hand check was taken away. The hand check was useful because it allowed defenders an opportunity to recover with an offensive player who had a quick first step, defenders could use that hand briefly to assist in keeping their man in front of them. The introduction of no hand checking saw good defenders suffer as a result as preference was given to the ball handler. Now we see that any player on offense who is in motion can’t be bumped, pushed or knocked around when moving on the court. This is big because defensive coaches teach to never allow an offensive player to cross your face or make any type of cut on the court without paying a “tax”. Any type of forearm or bump to get them off the line they were intending to travel is what coaches want on the defensive end and now it’s gone. This preseason we have seen a moronic number of fouls called on teams with above average defenses. In the Rockets game against the Grizzlies there was a total of 71 fouls (yea that’s right) 34 for the Rockets and 37 for the Grizzlies. If you’re wanting to say something like the Rockets don’t play defense I’m going to stop you now, I can write on just how well D’Antoni is defensively at another time. The Sixers had 35 of the 61 fouls in their second game against the Mavericks and the Celtics has half of the 60 fouls called in their game against the Cavs.
Now just like a teacher the first week of school the hope is refs are just coming in hot to set the “tone” so to speak and assert their dominance before the season starts and when the regular season hits they will lighten up on the whistle. That’s what the optimistic side of me and everyone else is saying. That being said I’m pretty sure that’s what NFL fans said and six weeks in Clay Matthews is getting penalized for not getting written consent from opposing quarterbacks before tackling them. As we make our way to week one of the NBA season all signs are pointing to the side effects of the “I want ALL the offense” movement trickling down from the swamp butt of Roger Goodell and the defensive debacle he created into our beloved National Basketball Association. Just like football, putting a priority on those who pass the ball and those who score it. The only catch is that while that makes up around 6 people on a football field at any given time, it is all 10 in the game of basketball.
High scoring games are great but not at the expense of good defense. There is something to be said for seeing a team put the clamps on their opponent and have them struggle on offense. Anyone who can’t find value in the play of defenders like Tony Allen and Scottie Pippen, team defenses like the 04’ Pistons and the 96’ Sonics and schemes like the infamous “Jordan Rules” should thing again. In fact I have a message for those individuals and I have Trevor Matich to thank for the conclusion I have reached for those who crave that double offense with a side of offense. If this season you find yourself looking at a defensive game aghast that the collective score isn’t over 240 and the teams competing have put an emphasis on keeping their opponent from scoring for just an instant; if that offends you SO much, you can buy a hamster cage. You can buy a hamster cage and get one hamster because sometimes they get off task when there’s two. With that one hamster let it run on a Bluetooth hamster wheel that counts revolutions so you can see a number in the triple digits appear on your phone every game night. While you are doing that the rest of us will happily go back to watching good basketball.