Low-scoring start to the NFL season is ownership’s fault

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Rob Ryan joins the show to talk NFL.

- The players wanted less practice, but the owners were the ones who allowed it. Who's more to blame for the low scoring start to the season?

- It's the owners. We always fire the coaches and blame the players. It's the owners. The owners have always control this league. They are the only billionaires involved. Don't blame DeMaurice Smith. The NFLPA has been reduced. I mean, the baseball umpire union has more power than the NFLPA, and always have.

You don't even have guaranteed money in this league. It's the owners. So here you had a league forever-- 1 o'clock, 4 o'clock, Monday Night Football. Then they sandwich in a Sunday game. All right, but it's still on Sunday.

Now we've got 20 games. We've got 16 Thursdays-- two days of less prep time. We've got six in London, six days of less prep time. So all of a sudden, my daughter is going to her recital with two days fewer to practice. She's not as good at her recital.

You're asking players in a sport with film study, choreography-- hey, go to London-- but that's one less day. Makes us money. Go play on Thursday. Yeah, but I can't practice. Eh, it makes us more money.

This is on the owners. This is Starbucks. They've saturated the product.

- I was going to call it a photo finish and say the owners are more to blame, but you just expanded the lead a little bit more. It's definitely on the owners. Again, the greed that you're talking, and talked about yesterday, and you're spelling out again today, in terms of, we're oversaturated. There's too much football.

- Too much football.

- I'm a little bit worried when I go into Thursday. I'm a little weary. And I can imagine what the players are like.

However, I will say that the owners aren't the only ones greedy here. In terms of the players-- and I understand it's about health and safety, allegedly, but everybody wants more for less. Everybody does.

And so the players bear a little bit of responsibility here thinking that they can play this game, at the highest level, without the traditional amount of preparation and practice. So I put a little bit of blame on the players as well.

I absolutely agree. I think the players, you know, when they got together, they came up with, hey, we'll only have one padded practice a week. We'll do this.

I mean, it was like it was almost, you know, for the old aging veteran player. You know Jeff Saturday was in there. I mean, he was on his 100th year. So I mean, it's almost like it was put together with those guys in mind.

It's hard to develop these young players. I mean, when I was in New England, we had guys practice after practice with just the rookies, and just the young players, and we'd practice them 15 extra minutes, full pads, the whole works. And we'd scrimmage a little bit. We'd do different things, so you could develop them.

But I think it is what it is. And the coaches have to do a better job of preparing, even though, you know, it's tough. You don't have all these techniques you can work on as well as you'd like. But, in fairness, I mean, Bill Belichick has got the best offensive line coach that has ever coached, probably, in Dante Scarnecchia, and his guys are protecting the passers. So hire better offensive line coaches, and do your thing.

- He does make one really interesting point here. The guys in that negotiating room are veteran players.

- No question.

- OK--


- But can I say something? I played my first six years in the league with the San Francisco 49ers. And in those six years, we were probably in full pads-- and this is under the old rules-- we were probably in full pads 20 times.

We never wore pads. Yeah, hold on, hold on-- we're talking about offensive line, defensive line play. I had some of the best offensive linemen and defensive linemen in the league as well. They didn't hit. They didn't wear pads. They worked on technique.

You mentioned better coaching. This right here, we're talking about-- first of all it's bad football if it's defensive football. What is happening is that the rules are now being understood by defensive players, OK?

Negative rule changes affect less talented players. So when you change the rules to where, defensively, you can't jam guys at the line of scrimmage, you can't touch guys in the middle of the field, you can't hit a guy high, it started to weigh on some of the older players that were in the league.

Guys have learned to adapt. You get faster defenses. Now, all of a sudden, guess what? Denver's secondary, they understand how to play, and not grab, and not touch. You get those guys. You start to take a small linebacker, and, instead, once upon a time, you were going to get this guy bigger.

You were going to get Derrick Brooks, Urlacher-- these guys were safeties that you turn into bigger linebackers. Now, what you're doing, you're getting these guys, and you're saying, we're going to get smaller safeties. We want guys that can move around and can cover in space.

The rules are now being understood by the defenses, so they are catching up to the offense again. It happens in cycles all the time.

- Well, and to Eric's point, we are overstating it. This is the most bet, watched, consumed, talked-about league in sports. And there is this apocalyptic nature. We always do this-- during the 2008 stock market crash, end of capitalism. No, not really. It's fine. People are still going to invest.

The NFL is so big, it's no longer growth league. It is a plateau business. Just don't lose ground. And so, when it loses--

- They're losing a little ground.

- Well, OK. Lose in 1%. Lose in McDonald's-- McDonald's is not a growth business. You're just holding on.

- But we're not even talking about them losing ground. We're talking about scoring being down. And the scoring is just down right now because, like I said, you had this big wave, and everyone's getting 400 yards, 500 yards passing because we've got to stop the legion of boom. We've got to stop these guys from touching the receivers. And now, they have figured out how to play within the system.

Got Got it. But I think, for fans-- and I consider myself a fan-- the style of play isn't as compelling as it once was. The games aren't as exciting.

- And what's going to happen? They're going to change the rules again to make it easier for the offense.

- Pretty good offense. Still pretty darn good.

- Yeah, I mean, those are some great points that you make there, Eric. The one thing is, if you're watching some of these games, the Janoris Jenkins versus Dez Bryant-- if they're not beating the heck out of each other the entire way down the field, like when Seattle, legion of boom was going-- I mean, it looks like they're letting them get away with it a lot more this year than they did before. And I think that's what's scoring-- Now they don't want to see 50 flags on defensive passing.

When we set the record in New Orleans, when I had Brandon Browner, you know, I was discussing, every time, all right, we got an incomplete. Oh, there's a flag.

I mean, that got old and got me fired. But I think with-- they're letting them play a little bit more. And in Bill Belichick's words, he always says, do business as business is being done. If they're not calling flags, they're going to jam you 20 yards down the field there you go.