We’re starting a new feature this year, the JGT Football Mailbag. You send me ridiculous football questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them. And if I don’t know the answers, I’ll just make something up. Here we go with this week’s questions. If you’ve got any questions you want answered, please shoot me your question on the What’s Your 20? Facebook page.
Dan asks: Johnny, do you have any insane rule changes to suggest for the NFL like you do for the NBA and MLB?
Absolutely. Whereas I think the NBA could be helped by eliminating the 3-point line until the last two minutes of the game, and baseball could be helped by using a home run derby to determine winners if it’s still tied after the 10th inning, football could use a few changes as well. And the main rule football should change is one that used to be legal.
It used to be legal to goaltend field goals. Then Chiefs coach Hank Stram signed 6’10” Morris Stroud to play tight end … and block field goals. He would stand in front of the cross bar when the other team lined up to kick, then would leap up and try to block the kick if it came in low. Is it just me, or does that sound AWESOME? Of course, the boring NFL made it illegal. That still infuriates me. It’s completely absurd. We watch the NFL to see great athletes, we don’t watch it to see field goals. Why not encourage more displays of incredible atheticism? Bring back field goal goaltending.
Also, the fumblerooski and the center sneak should both be made legal again.
That leads to our next question:
Gene asks: Should we vary the point for field goals depending on how far the kick is?
Absolutely. If kickers have to deal with a 6’10” dude trying to swat their kicks, they should also get a bonus. That bonus is having different length field goals worth different amount of points. We keep it simple: 1 point for every 10 yards. 18 yarder is worth one, 24 yarder is worth 2, 35 yarder is worth 3, etc. Now, this will change the strategy of the game tremendously. For instance, if your team is down 4 late in the game, do you try to get the ball in range for a 45-yarder and the tie … or try to kick a 52-yarder from where you are for the win? Why not add some more strategy to the game?
Chip asks: Why can you score 1 point, 2 points, 3 points, and 6 points, but not 4 or 5 points?
You can’t now. You used to be able to (and you will again if my field goal idea catches steam). When touchdowns first became worth points in 1883, a TD was worth 4 points, and so was the kick after the touchdown. In 1897, the touchdown became worth 5, and the kick after the touchdown was lowered to be worth one. Finally in 1912, the touchdown was raised to be worth 6 points. Interestingly, in Canadian football, the touchdown was still worth 5 until 1956. Of course, this is the same country that still rewards teams with a point if a missed field goal lands in the end zone. They also think bacon SHOULDN’T be crispy. It’s really weird up there.
Adam asks: Is there any rule that says that the defense can’t stand on each other’s shoulders? Because I’ve always thought that would be a good way to block all those throws.
Under the “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” section of the NFL rulebook, it specifically states that the following is illegal: “Jumping or standing on a teammate or opponent to block or attempt an opponent’s kick.”
So you can’t do it to block a kick, but I don’t see where you can’t do it to block a pass. That said, it is an absurd strategy. In the amount of time it would take to climb on a teammate’s shoulders, the pass has already been completed and your coach is already yelling at you for being a moron.
Nat asks: Brandon Weeden had a QB Rating of 5.1 on Sunday. If you, Johnny Goodtimes, practiced with the Browns for the same amount of time as Weeden in the preseason, would you have had a better game on Sunday (making the assumption that you stayed injury free)?
These are the types of hypotheticals I spend way too much of my life thinking about. I’m glad you covered the “injury” portion of this right off the bat. Because let’s not kid ourselves: one hit from a blitzing linebacker, and I would be killed instantly. No doubt in my mind. Stone cold. But we’re allowing that I’d be a lot tougher than I really am. Here are the factors that we have to keep in mind for my NFL quarterbacking debut:
I would only be throwing slants, screens, and the occasional comeback. I’d also call at least once for the do-si-do play, where the two crossing receivers grab arms, spin around and go back in the direction they came from. It works every time in backyard ball. I can’t imagine it not working in the NFL. But the bomb would be eliminated from the playbook I simply cannot throw with any degree of accuracy or velocity over 20 yards. At 6-feet tall, you also have to assume I’m doinking plenty of passes of the back of the heads of my O-linemen.
I’m also 37 years old and in so-so shape. My mobility will be a non-factor. That means one thing: lots of safety blitzes. And therein lies my problem. If given the proper passing lanes, I think I could complete 5 or 6 short passes in an NFL game. However, those blitzing safeties, knowing that the team can’t possibly get burned deep, are going to be in my grill every single play. That will close my passing lanes, and cause me to essentially throw a 15 yard “Hail Mary” on virtually every pssing play, though we have to assume that with all of these blitzes I’ll be tossing the occasional screen. The screens are where I can really help myself, statswise. If I can just toss a 5 yarder out in the flat and let the running back do all the work, I will be helping myself immensely. But the Hail Mary’s with this Browns team are going to go poorly. They don’t have any “create your own space” guys. If I had Calvin Johnson, I’d actually have a chance to put up decent numbers, but the Browns receiving corps is pretty awful.
So, let’s get back to the question: would I have done better on Sunday than Brandon Weeden? Sadly, I think the answer is no. If I threw the ball 35 times, like Weeden did, I have to assume that I’d throw 10-12 interceptions, and complete 4 or 5 passes for a total of about 20-25 yards. I’d probably set a new record for most intentional groundings in the game, as I’d spike the ball fairly regularly to avoid getting hit. I’m also fairly certain that I’d fumble every single time I got hit, which would be quite often (The Browns don’t have a particularly good O-line.) I did the math, and my QB ratings with those stats would be 0.0. Yes, Weeden was awful on Sunday. But he wasn’t Johnny Goodtimes awful.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.