Does diminished quality come from reduced practice time?

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As the 2011 lockout was coming to a conclusion, the owners made a series of concessions that cost them no money, at least not directly. Five years later, a real question has emerged regarding whether diminished practice time is resulting in a diminished product on Sundays (and Mondays, and now every Thursday) and, in turn, diminished ratings.

Plenty of coaches and General Managers insist that the reduction in practice time and intensity has harmed the sport, resulting in subpar offensive line play, poor fundamentals (like tackling), and bodies that aren’t “hardened” by fully-padded two-a-days and are more in-season practices in pads.

Others disagree, pointing to the immediate impact of a player like Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa as proof that full participation in the offseason program, training camp, and the preseason is overrated. Still, it’s one thing for a guy like Bosa to rush the quarterback; it’s another for a player to move in concert with other players, like offensive lineman and quarterbacks/pass-catchers do.

Last week, Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged that the practice rules should be re-evaluated in conjunction with the next round of Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. But Goodell prefaced those remarks but suggesting that everything is fine as it is.

“I just spoke to John Madden on Monday night for an hour,” Goodell said last Wednesday regarding the perception of reduced quality of offensive line play. “I had this conversation with him and actually made exactly the opposite point: That offensive line play looks better, and he agreed. And so I don’t see that. When you have either injuries or inconsistency on the front line, that’s a cohesive group, and when one person is missing that’s a difficult thing, and so that group does need time to gel. That often gets better as the season goes along.”

That wagon-circling/all-is-well mindset won’t help the NFL solve its current problems. The league needs to be honest with itself and everyone else (more importantly with itself) about the fact that fewer people are watching, or that the same people are watching less fervently.

Instead, the league seems to be tempted to adopt a position of inaction, hunkering down and treating the lost ratings points the same way Homer Simpson reacted to the first globs of hair that fell out of his head — by shrugging and saying, “Well, there’s still plenty more where those came from.”

121 responses to “Does diminished quality come from reduced practice time?

  1. The fact that we are referencing Joeeeeeeeeeeee Bosa in this article is all you need to know about the state of the NFL today ,,not enough practice and too much of this $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  2. Are college football ratings down? NOOO. Were preseason NFL ratings down? NOOOO. Did the NFL ratings drop precipitously THE INSTANT the protests began? YESSS. Figure it out.

  3. Madden? Lol, jeez I mean he hasn’t coached in a hundred years. Goodell is just awful. He is deceptive, parses his responses…I doubt he even knows what the truth is about anything anymore he is so corrupted. The owners? A bunch of old men playing real life fantasy football. Time to turn off the money faucet folks. The NFL needs new leadership ATVTHE owner level and in the commissioners office

  4. Nope.

    It’s Thursday night, Monday night & international games that do not allow continuity in practice and preparation. One week 4 days rest, next week 8 days, week after 14 days. Players and coaches need a rhythm.


    Total inconsistency in refereeing. One week, one quarter, one minute, something gets a flag. Next week, next quarter, next minute, it doesn’t. How the heck can anyone practice and prepare for that nonsense.


    Continuous interruptions in the game for commercials, reviews, referee conferences, more commercials, more referee conferences. How do the players even stay warm?

  5. Dude let it go. We get it ratings are down. Competition is down. Move on to the next topic you can milk and fill your site with for another month.

  6. Actually, the Raiders offensive line is KILLING it. I know it’s fashionable to jock the Cowboys’ o-line now. Raiders’ o-line is right there with them. Great job by those players and Mike Tice. #elite

  7. dannyabramowitz says:
    Oct 25, 2016 9:13 PM
    Are college football ratings down? NOOO. Were preseason NFL ratings down? NOOOO. Did the NFL ratings drop precipitously THE INSTANT the protests began? YESSS. Figure it out.

    Ratings have been declining since the beginning of last season. So, um…….did you have another point, Donald?

  8. Here’s a concept. Most QBs are not good enough to execute the offense. They should be handing off more and passing less, yet they don’t. The reason why is the rules have tilted severely over the passing game so teams focus upon it more and running less.

  9. Duh! Anybody who doesn`t see or didn`t know that not practicing was going to hurt tackling and offensive line play doesn`t know football. I`d rather pay $5 to go see high school football than $100 to go to a NFL game now. They have lost all the precision and hard hitting that made it worth the money so now i go watch high school and low level college games instead. Much better value for my money and i don`t feel dirty like i did for lining the pockets of the players,owners and especially Goodell.

  10. Seriously, I, like many above me here, can’t even believe you had to ask the question.

  11. Viking fans think Bounties make people play better.. Which is why the Saints played better in the NFC Title game.

    So maybe just allow bounties and that should fix it…

  12. College football turning into intramural flag football seems to have diminished the NFL a bit.

  13. Does John Madan and Roger Goddell know any tangible about modern day football? If the coaches of today are saying it… thats where I’ll put my noney.

  14. Every season there are excuses for why teams aren’t performing or teams and players fall off the cliff….luckily the Patriots reside in a vacuum developed by the greatest coach of all time!

    What effects the rest of the league doesn’t effect the model franchise. Carolina 15-1 one year and 1-5 the next. Oh they didn’t pay Josh Norman and lost him…Cam Newton gets hit too much/hard. The Patriots didn’t pay Ty Law, Asante Samuel and Revis…still win no excuses. They played their 2nd and 3rd string QB…one a rookie with a thumb that needed surgery on his throwing hand. No excuses. Patriots 6-1 and atop the league again.

    Instead of complaining about the Patriots perhaps you should write to your local NFL franchise owner and ask him to take some notes.

  15. Perhaps the NFL has reached the point where underclassmen have so saturated the league that the talent level has finally slipped as a whole?

  16. He asked John Madden. With all due respect to John Madden, he hasn’t been involved in the game in years. Goodell would be better off asking, you know, guys coaching the game now who have done it for a while. Roger Goodell never ceases to amaze us by being so clueless.

  17. “I personally found that increasing my practice time directly correlated to overall improved game performance.”

    -A. Iverson

  18. Goodell – the worst commissioner of any sport of all time

    Everything they do has the exact opposite effect intended – try to reduce kickoff returns? Change the rule and watch them increase!

    Such a Keystone Kops outfit it stopped being funny years ago

  19. I wonder if it’s the incessant nagging of sports bloggers in their echo chamber dragging things down…

  20. I really think that dude just make statements like that to see what kind of reaction he will get.

  21. The quality of play has declined and the injury rate has spiked through the roof. I think it’s patently obvious at this point that the players screwed both themselves and the fans over.

  22. It’s only been 7 weeks, everyone calm down. Every prime time games has stunk so far. It’s unbelievable actually. I mean we just had to endure Brock Osweiler vs Trevor Simien.

    Football will be fine. The sport will continue as is, and it’s still the greatest sport in the world.

  23. Yeah they need to bring back two a days.

    They only practice in pads 10 times during training camp, I think they can handle running around in shorts twice a day working at their craft.

  24. I’m not about folks getting hurt unnecessarily, but I think we have to look at the elephant in the room. The extra point used to be the most boring play in football. Now it’s the kickoff (which ironically used to be one of the most exciting).

    Couple that with the shorter field position for the offense and handcuffs placed on the defensive secondary, and you’ve effectively removed the drama from the game.

  25. Crazy Goodell didn’t realize Madden thought Goodell was commenting about Madden 17. Goodell also didn’t realize that Madden didn’t know who Goodell was. It should have come as no surprise especially after Madden retold Goodell a story about a question he asked Brady. When asked whether he thought the footballs looked as though they were properly inflated, Brady told Madden to ask the commissioner that question. When he finished recounting the story to Goodell, he ended by saying that he just can’t remember where he left Tagliabue’s phone number.

  26. Goodell is off his rocker. There’s an old time NFL player who lives near me and he says he can’t even watch the games today because the tackling is so bad and the play is so sloppy. Of course lack of practice has led to this. Way too many concessions to the divas now playing the game.

  27. The answer seems to be that in college, defensive linemen are getting bigger and faster. And in the Pros, they are told to hunt the QB.
    On the other hand, Offensive linemen in college and being trained in a spread Offense with different skills than the Pros. there is not enough practice time to train the new guys right. the old OLinemen are getting hurt and retiring, and no replacements from college to step up.
    Lack of practice time is not hurting the DLine, but severely hurting the OLine.
    When the OLine gets bad, the QBs, RBs and WRs get hurt.

  28. Part of the problem is college players are weak on fundamentals. Numerous NFL coaches have said it’s because of the difference in college and NFL offensive philosophies and play.

  29. Iverson: If I can’t practice, I can’t practice man. If I’m hurt, I’m hurt. I mean … simple as that. It ain’t about that… I mean it’s… It’s not about that… At all. You know what I’m saying I mean… But it’s…it’s easy … to, to talk about… It’s easy to sum it up when you’re just talking about practice. We’re sitting in here, and I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about practice. I mean, listen, we’re talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, we talking about practice. Not a game. Not, not … Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game, but we’re talking about practice, man. I mean, how silly is that? … And we talking about practice. I know I supposed to be there. I know I’m supposed to lead by example… I know that… And I’m not.. I’m not shoving it aside, you know, like it don’t mean anything. I know it’s important, I do. I honestly do… But we’re talking about practice man. What are we talking about? Practice? We’re talking about practice, man. [laughter from the media crowd] We’re talking about practice. We’re talking about practice. We ain’t talking about the game. [more laughter] We’re talking about practice, man. When you come to the arena, and you see me play, you see me play don’t you? You’ve seen me give everything I’ve got, right? But we’re talking about practice right now. We talking about pr.

  30. John Mara should be treated just like Joe Paterno. This dispicable trust fund baby, should be forced to resign. Roger once again gives the Giants and jets a pass.

  31. How about having games on Sunday and Monday only. Stop with the Thursday games, allow players era a full week to recover and be healthy. Then we might see better games.

  32. Remember when a first round QB had to spend a couple of years on the bench? learning, adjusting and really getting it? Say Aaron Rodgers.
    Fast forward a couple of years and you have Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, RGIII and Wentz blowing up the league in their rookie years.
    Does that say something about the quality and complexity of the league? Has it gotten more simple, thus easier to play and have success? Or is there so much information available to front offices and coaches, that games have just stopped being fluid, dynamic and high quality?
    For my money I think a lot has to do with a wild reversal to old schoolish type of play. Just a couple of years ago every single QB was breaking passing records left and right. 5000 yards in a season was becoming very doable, if not expected. The amount of points scored was historically high for a couple of years. And that probably does translate to a perception of ¨quality¨ by most NFL fans. Fun = Quality.
    But something happened and this took a wild turn back to earth. Low scoring games are back, bad QBs are back, the league does seem very competitive. If you are a gambling man every time you see less and less spreads above -10 points.
    So yeah, who knows. Penalties are definitely an issue. It makes the games repetitive and unpredictable. QB play needs to be better. Injuries are a huge issue as well. How do you expect quality when half the teams are using different line ups every week, and they players that do play can barely dress up.
    I’m a big fan and aside from the prime time games that have been crap for a few years now but people are just starting to catch up, you’ll definitely find 3 or 4 good games every weekend. I just think we got to the point where there is too much NFL. And like it happens with teams like the Patriots, the Miami Heat, the GS Warriors or the Chicago Cubs, once they get too big and too successful it’s fun – almost expected – to see them fall. Don’t look now but baseball and basketball are very fun again, so it might just be the NFLs turn to fall.

  33. Replace football with any other profession and this just sounds silly. “Participating in increased training for airline pilots is overrated.”

  34. I was talking to John Madden about this…

    Wow, watching Goodell run this league is like watching an old person try to use a computer.

  35. Does diminished quality come from reduced practice time?

    Stupid question, I’ve never skied in my life and i plan on winning gold in the next winter olympics.

  36. “But Goodell prefaced those remarks but suggesting that everything is fine as it is.”

    Remain calm! All is well!

  37. .
    Why would the coaches know what’s best for the players?
    ONLY JJ and the gang can possibly know such things

  38. Might want to define “ratings” at some point. Like, are these ratings still comprised of self-report surveys, or is there a gizmo that jacks into your system?

    Who participates in the rating? Maybe what is construed to be a fair representation of the public is sent the information, but not everyone participates.

    All I have to say is that if some stranger dork asks me what I’m watching I’m not telling them scat–even if they pay me.

  39. Football overload is killing the ratings. Loose Thursday night games. Sunday is for football. You’re not going to be the best you can be, without sufficient practice. I wonder if people training for the Olympics had the same mentality ? The only thing we’d be bringing home is the laundry.

  40. Here’s a thought. During the 100+ TV commercials aired during every NFL game, teams can take practice snaps which solves 2 major issues.
    1) Fans won’t need to be bored out of their minds for the 3 hours of non-action during games
    2) Additional practice opportunities to improve the crappy product
    Personally, I’d tune in if there was a chance Goodell was going to be fired during the game….crappy product or not. In fact, I’d pledge to devote 11 hours of my Sundays to the NFL if Goodell was finally fired. Lets end our national nightmare now

  41. Diminished quality comes from a rule book that is too fat. No one seems to understand all of the rules and there are inconsistencies from official to official, play to play, game to game. The constant disruptions to the flow of the game turn off viewers and keep the players from getting in to any kind of rhythm. What would help the game is if the league sat down and said, “Okay, how do we cut this rule book in half?”

  42. Actually horrible QB play has diminished the NFL and its not getting better any time soon.

    Wilson and Palmer are 2 of the better NFL QBs right now and both were absolutely horrible in the Sunday Night game.

    Right now the 2 best QBs are Tom Brady, of course he is, and he hasnt practiced in 4 weeks, and Dak Prescott a rookie.

    You dont have a QB, you are going to look like garbage.

  43. YesYesYesYes – American Football is the most complex sport in existence – (coming from someone from the UK) – coaches need more time with their players to coach up on fundamentals and technique and plays. QB play is declining (how many rookies are we genuinely excited about compared to Manning and Brady). The players are the assets of the league and the teams and the CBA limits on practice is hurting it.

  44. The NFL sits on top of the sports world, king of TV ratings. There is only one direction it can go and that is down. How it gets there and the speed which it travels are the only two remaining unknowns.

    But one thing is for certain, the damages that will kill the NFL will be self-inflicted. Reduced practice time, kneeling for the National Anthem, and a bizarre approach to player discipline are the leading contenders.

  45. Goodell and his cronies never played in the league and despise people who do. Only when you understand this do his activities start to make sense.

  46. I just read about a new study that came to conclusion once a person lies it causes them to lie more and more until all you do is lie. Rodger Goodell is a serial liar and I don’t need a study to tell me that. How can he even invoke the name of John Madden who probably watches the games on black and white tube TV in the conversation? What’s next? Is he going to tell us he had a seance with Vince Lombardi who told him everything is peachy good.

  47. A few years ago I heard Troy Brown after a game on the radio saying that the teams just arent allowed to do what they used to be able to do as far as actual practice “time” goes. So ‘hell yes’ is the answer to the question posed.

  48. Wish I had a contract for that kind of money and work less to get it. Maybe I’ll try a lockout at work and see if someone can negotiate less hours for more pay. Hmmm…………..wonder how long it will take………….hope I don’t have to wait long.

  49. History shows that many large corporations reach a point of arrogance where they believe their customers will continue to buy their products or services in spite of declining quality and that suppliers will continue to do business with them in spite of unfavorable terms and conditions. The NFL has entered this stage of their corporate life cycle. History shows that one of two things happen: the corporation wakes up before its demise and goes thru a period of reform and reinvention or it ceases to exist. Let’s hope for the former for the NFL. Ironically, this decline in the NFL coincides with a period of exciting and high quality collegiate football. Are ratings for college football up or down?

  50. This league needs to eliminate Thursday night games (except for Thanksgiving…a cherished American tradition). Talk about diminished practice time! Not to mention no time for bodies to heal. But it’s never been about player health or quality of play for this league. NEVER. Since the league will not do this, I would mandate that any team scheduled to play a Thursday night game only do so at the end of it’s bye week. Yes, that shortens the bye by a few days, but the players would rather have this than playing only four days after a game (plus, they get the extra days after the Thursday game). And confine TNF to only during the league’s bye-week period to accommodate this.

  51. That, and the crap version of basketball-on-grass that is being played in too many colleges across the country. Players’ skills aren’t being developed in college that translate to the pro game. Do not try to make the Pro game like the college game…..Chip Kelly.

  52. When a team has to replace at least 60% of their starting OL then more practice time in pads is needed. If not, then they have no choice but to do that practicing in an actual game and the quality drops.

    The Eagles and Vikings both struggled mightily last Sunday.

  53. What offensive line play? Have you seen the Ravens lately? How does a pro football team rush for only 6 yards in a game? 6 yards? Are you kidding me? That can be done in 1 play. The NFL product has become shoddy! Poor tackling, terrible officials. They pay a QB $100m+ and he can’t call his own plays!

  54. “I just spoke to John Madden on Monday night for an hour”
    Stop acting like you know what you’re talking about Goodell… You already proved beyond a reasonable doubt that you know absolutely nothing about the sport of football SMDH

  55. “Man look, I hear you… it’s funny to me too, I mean it’s strange… it’s strange to me too, but we’re talking about practice man, we’re not even talking about the game… the actual game, when it matters… We’re talking about practice”

  56. You’re asking if doing the same thing over and over again will yield different results?…

  57. Absolutely, lack of practice time is having an effect.
    Like anything else, if one wants to get good at something, they have to practice over and over.
    Either Goodell has adopted the Iverson mentality about practice, or his head is really that deeply buried in the sand.

  58. Too many penalties, some game determining. Certainly the players have to play by the rules. Perhaps some of the rules should be reviewed for elimination or modification. One that comes to mind is allowing the bump and run pass coverage.

  59. Lack of practice has absolutely hurt the game, as have many of the rule changes that were established to “protect players”.

    Like the NBA, NFL teams now seek “speed” and “athleticism” as opposed to people who can actually play the game well. The NFL has become the NBA in cleats……and that’s not a compliment.

  60. No more than 15 commercials for the WHOLE game
    Refs keep the flags in ur pockets
    Get rid of Thursday games
    The prime time matchups need to be better
    All stand for the anthem
    Stop FIXING games

    What have I missed?

  61. The league can stick it’s head in the sand all they want but..are these players ” SOFT ” and pampered. pri-mad-donas…perhaps so, but the game is becoming very difficult to watch. and the more concessions these players get , the worse they play….and…the worse shape they are in with resulting injuries in occurrence.Add to that… flags thrown every other play or more, refs who do not know what a catch is, commercials crammed down our throats so often that they even omit some punts and kick offs and you have a recipe for a ratings disaster ! I watch NFL Football less that 20 percent of the time that I did last year and my children do not watch it …at all ! Wake up NFL…the handwriting is on the wall !

  62. Roger Goodell is not qualified to comment on this, he is no football man in spite of what he thinks.

  63. Coaching staffs that use their practice time working on offensive linemen head butting drills are the problem–not that I believe many exist.

  64. As a ravens fan their product has been diminished the last 4 years for many reasons. However, watching football around the league, since its on almost every night, I see a lot of bad looking football. Bad line play, bad QB play, bad tackling, horrible officiating. I do believe this is not the same product I watched 5 years ago.

    As a test I went on NFL’s YouTube channel and watched some old games and clips, not from 15 years ago but from 5 years and the game is definitely different across the league.

    Just my thoughts…

  65. I understand the concern with grinding guys down physically with two-a-days. But refining and perfecting technique (hand placement, steps, timing, etc) along the offensive line; so that all 5 guys (plus coordinating with additional blockers) happens in a precise manner is extremely difficult to master.

    Practicing against air or in shorts is not sufficient.

    Outside of QB there is not a more difficult position to master than OL.

    QB can be in shorts and have zero contact and master their trade. OL need hard hitting contact to master theirs. It’s just the reality of the position.

  66. brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-DUH!

    This is most especially true with line-play, both d-line and o-line. The other side of the coin to this is that you risk your d-line and o-line getting hurt if you let them practice more, especially if it involves contact/hitting. Pick your poison.

  67. Injures and longer schedules are a significant part of the diminished quality of play. The number of injures has an obvious impact and playing more games means players and teams must pace themselves. 16 games has proven that the human body cannot hold-up under that much abuse. The older the warrior, the more prone to missing plays or playing at a diminished capacity. But the money’s good!

  68. No doubt. That’s also the reason why the game is littered with penalties and rating continue to drop. Over paid and under achieving drama queens is NOT what made the NFL great……

  69. ariani1985 says:
    Oct 25, 2016 9:21 PM

    But Mike McCheesburger from turd Bay said so it must be true right cheese heads?
    Regardless of how much time players spend practicing, at least one thing will always remain constant… viking fans will always be obsessed with the Packers.

  70. So maybe just allow bounties and that should fix it…
    Maybe you were being sarcastic, but you do realize that Bountygate was proven to be another Goodell lie?

  71. In my opinion, the officiating is ruining the game. Anytime there’s a decent play, there’s a flag…almost in every game I watch. When they show the replay and whatever the call was, was so minimal that you realize this isn’t football anymore. I really used to love the game but man have they really ruined the experience.

  72. The NFL is in to analytics more and more these days, where are all the models and spreadsheet that shows the up tick of injuries and bad play?

    Oh, right, Goodell likes to suppress evidence like the lawyer he is.

  73. I dont believe so. Are the Lions having problems? How about the Broncos O? How about the Saints O? How about the Vikings O minus Philly Game? How about New England? How about Pitt? How about Carson Wentz and Philly? A rookie doing so well… its more on the coaches designing good concepts and being adept at play calling

  74. I think the quality is better than ever, although there are a handful of bad owners. The thing that’s changed the most is the number of media outlets reporting on this stuff, and negativity seems to sell better. It’s hard to get your own radio show nowadays unless you’re ripping people constantly. We seem to have an appetite for negative stuff. I’ve never enjoyed NFL football more than I do now. It’s awesome!

  75. Maybe cuz u show garbage games and try to charge us $250 to watch our favorite team if we are out of market.

  76. The NFL sold out on creating more passing, by creating new rules that took away what defenders could do awhile ago. This was done to generate more viewership by thinking fans want to see high scoring, more exciting plays. What they failed to realize is that true NFL fans appreciate dominate defenses, and appreciate when a offensive player makes a play against a very good defender/defense. If fans wanted the Arena league like excitement, you would see its attendance increase. The fact is they don’t. Bonus fact, those that lay the finger on officiating (specifically the what is a catch) and you now know why fans are losing interest.

  77. Players today are playing not to get hurt and it makes for a lousy product. How are NCAA ratings doing where players are going all out to try to get into the NFL?
    That is the math.

  78. I personally watch waaaaaay less than I used to. I blame over saturation. Almost feels like baseball. I still watch at least 5 hours worth a week, but I used to watch every second of every available game. Now it is more like baseball to me. I watch my team, and other games here and there.

  79. Yes but thats not all of it. Baseball is a good example. How many teams that were not in the playoff picture most of the year had strong armed pictures? Big hitters?

    Football is watered down. When Green Bay can suit up 1/3 of its team with undrafteds and late round picks from schools you never heard of and get away with it, that kind of says it all. A lot of mediocre players playing because there are too many teams.

    Expansion creates mediocrity. Here is a list of teams I could really care less to see in a TV matchup right now: jets, bills, rams, jax, miami, cleveland, Bears.

    and they wonder why the ratings are down. I bet most of you would pass on the above to and just go for a walk.

  80. metalman5150 says:
    Oct 26, 2016 10:30 AM
    There is no way in hell that practicing a craft makes you any better at preforming that craft.


    Isnt the other part of practice and maybe the biggest part is the coaches get to evaluate who actually can play, who needs more work and the bums.

    Isnt practice and this is where I think it really shows, to get you in shape? Groin injuries, pulled this pulled that, ankle injuries, muscle injuries. maybe being better conditioned my alleviate some of this?

  81. Lol John Madden.

    Using my Roger Goodell Truth Converter we discover: Roger was playing Madden 17 and thinking about calling John Madden.

    Roger Goodell. Lips moving. Lying be trying.

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