Change Rules, Reduce Head Injuries: There is a lot of energy and conversation these days about the high impact collisions in the NFL that are causing head injuries, resulting in significant health issues for current and former players. The primary parties at risk are wide receivers, defensive backs and quarterbacks. So follow me here. Currently, the rules prohibit any contact on a receiver beyond five yards past the line of scrimmage. This results in two situations: 1) Big, strong wide receivers running full speed untouched through the secondary and 2) Quarterbacks having wide open targets. The result of these situations give the defense only two options: 1) Once the receiver catches the ball, the defensive backs have no choice but to hit the receiver as hard as possible to make the tackle and 2) Rush the quarterback and try to disrupt his rhythm in order to decrease his time to throw the ball. These options, because of the rules, result in increased risk of violent collisions in the offensive and defensive backfields. My solution? Change the rules back to allow the defenders to make contact with the receivers until the ball is thrown. This would slow down the receivers and would also make it more beneficial for the defense to blitz less and drop more players into coverage, resulting in less high impact hits. I know the NFL has been trying for the last two decades to open up the game to produce more scoring. But the impact of those rules changes has been to jeopardize the very existence of football as we know it, primarily due to the legal ramifications of the injuries caused by the increased speed of the game. Call me crazy, but I would rather see a slowed down tackle football version than a sped up flag football version.
RGIII Still Walking: If you have seen the video clip of the play on which RGIII sustained a knee injury, you have to wonder how he is still walking. It is reminiscent of the play where Marcus Lattimore of the University of South Carolina received significant damage to his knee. The Washington Redskin rookie is listed as day to day as the football faithful in the nation's capital heaved a collective sigh of relief. As a 'Skin fan, I hope coach Shanahan rests Griffin against the Browns, considering the way backup Kirk Cousins engineered a couple of drives to bring Washington back from a 28 - 20 deficit. The Browns are playing well, but so are the 'Skins. I think the risk of further injury to RGIII outweigh the need to play him on Sunday.
Petrino Lands at Western Kentucky: Former University of Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino accepted the same position at Western Kentucky University of the Sun Belt Conference. For someone seeking redemption following their fall from grace in Fayetteville, it's not a bad gig. Petrino will receive $800,000 a year, far short of his compensation leading the Razorbacks. In addition, there is a $1.2 million buyout associated with his contract should he leave prior to its four year duration. He inherits a team bound for the Little Caesars Bowl and whose former coach, Willie Taggert, is headed to the University of South Florida to replace fired coach Skip Holtz. I believe Petrino deserves another chance to continue his career, and Western Kentucky presents a great opportunity for him to do that. Taggart has provided a foundation for what can be a premier program in the Sun Belt conference. At the end of the day, the Hilltoppers will probably get Petrino's two years of service at almost no cost, considering the buyout that will be no problem for a North Carolina, Miami or any other major college program to absorb. You don't have to look any farther than Guz Malzahn's one year tenure at Arkansas State for a frame of reference about how long high profile coaches stay in the Sun Belt.
NFL Teaser: I'll spend far more space on the NFL tomorrow, but a couple of games stand out from yesterday's action. First, I don't know whether to be more impressed by San Diego or more depressed by Pittsburgh in the Chargers' 34 - 24 defeat of the Steelers in the Steel City. Really? Norv Turner's squad had been totally written off, the popular assumption being that Turner and general manager A.J. Smith were walking dead. I doubt this game did much to change that scenario. In fact, it was probably another nail in the coffins. I mean come on. If you can go into Pittsburgh and dismantle the Steelers with a healthy Big Ben, then why are you 5 - 8? Good question, don't you think? And is it possible the Jets are still alive in the playoff hunt after a 17 - 10 win at hapless Jacksonville? Unfortunately sports fans, the answer is yes. Could this bumbling organization actually make it to the postseason? Unfortunately sports fans, the answer once again is yes. Go figure!