For the second straight year, NFL ratings are way down. In 2016, the blame was laid at the feet of the insanity that was the Presidential Election. This year, everyone is pointing the finger at anthem protests and players kneeling.
But we all know the real reason why folks are tuning out in record numbers: the product on the field just plain stinks.
Despite a handful of wild finishes, the NFL as a whole just isn’t that fun to watch anymore. Whether it be rule changes, corporate sellouts, an incompetent commissioner, or a lack of flow to the games, what we’re seeing week in and week out just isn’t what it used to be, and because of that, people are finding other things to do with their Sundays.
That said, another reason why the NFL isn’t that good this year is because a lot of the game’s biggest names are either on IR or out for an extended period of time. With Dont’a Hightower the latest victim of The Blue Tent, there is now a complete NFL starting roster of all-stars that we won’t have the joy of seeing each and every week. At this point, you could honestly field a team solely off of players on IR/PUP that would absolutely dominate any other franchise in the NFL right now.
Don’t believe me? Let’s try it.
Safeties: Eric Berry, Quentin Demps
DBs: DeAngelo Hall, Tavon Young
LBs: Dont’a Hightower, Whitney Mercilus, Tamba Hali
D Line: J.J. Watt, Haloti Ngata, Shariff Floyd, Cliff Avril
The NFL All-IR team is a little soft in the secondary, but with that front seven, who cares? No quarterback will have time to throw the ball anyway, and with the best safety in the game patrolling the back quadrant of the field, it’s going to be tough to move the ball against this unit.
In fact, the only squad I would feel comfortable scoring any points on this defense is the All-IR offense.
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Tannehill (backup)
RB: David Johnson, Darren Sproles
FB: John Kuhn
WRs: Julian Edemlan, Odell Beckham, Jr., Brandon Marshall, Allen Robinson
TE: Greg Olsen, Tyler Eiffert
O Line: Joe Thomas, Marshall Yanda, J.C. Tretter, Mike Lupati, Jason Peters
Who is stopping that offense? One of the best QBs in the game, a receiving corps that has it all, a great power back and passing back, two versatile TEs, and an offensive line that could keep anybody upright for weeks. Tretter is probably the weak link there, but with David Johnson running the ball, that isn’t going to matter much
Throw in Sebastian Janikowski and Kasey Redfern, get Sproles back there to return kicks and punts, and I just gave you your 2017 Super Bowl champs.
I’m not sure what has transpired in the NFL over the past few years that has caused injuries to key players to mount up like this, but hopefully the league will take a look at how it handles offseason training, mini-camp, practices, player access to care, and all of the other elements that has been the subject of discussion at the bargaining table, and make the adjustments necessary to ensure player safety and well-being while allowing each man to maximize his own talents by staying on the field.
The most electrifying of these hypothetical matchups would have to be the All-IR Team vs. the NFL Convicts squad. Between guys too hurt to see the field and guys too shady to see the outside of a jail cell, we’re looking at a matchup for the ages.