3 NFL Teams That Must Resist League's Pass-Happy Trend
NFL teams, much like a 12-year-old playing Madden, love throwing the football.
After decades of the I-formation and 30-carry-a-game running backs being a league-wide staple, America's favorite professional sport has officially gone stark raving mad for the forward pass.
In 2011, three quarterbacks (Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matt Stafford) threw for over 5,000 yards—something that's never been done—and 10 total signal-callers eclipsed the 4,000-yard passing mark, the most in history.
However, these three teams must stay way from the NFL's latest pass-heavy trend.
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Ryan Fitzpatrick threw the ball 569 times in 2011, and not surprisingly, he led the league with 23 interceptions.
The Harvard alum did play well at the beginning of the year, but made it blatantly obvious that over the course of an entire season, Buffalo cannot simply rely on him to play in a gun-slinger role.
Steve Johnson is a capable possession receiver who's fresh off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, and David Nelson is a respectable 6'4'' slot option, but the rest of the receiving contingent is relatively inexperienced and unproven.
However, the Bills do have two underrated running backs in Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller who have vastly differing running styles. Jackson's a tall, powerful back that's more of a one-cut runner than anything else. He has an innate knack of making bigger, faster and seemingly more athletic defenders miss in the open field as well.
Spiller began to shake off the "bust" label down the stretch in 2011 with five marvelous games filling in for an injured Jackson. His burst around the edge is electric and his speed in the open field is among the best in the league.
Buffalo needs to prominently feature Jackson and Spiller to alleviate pressure from Fitzpatrick in 2012.
San Francisco 49ers
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That doesn't mean they should flip the script on the fundamentals of their offensive attack.
In 2011, en route to a 13-3 season and a NFC Championship game appearance, San Francisco finished with the league's No. 8 ranked rushing attack and their 498 rushes were third in the league behind the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos.
Because first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh implemented a run-heavy attack, the 49ers were able to control the clock and lean on their stout defense to stay in football games.
Quarterback Alex Smith also pieced together his most efficient season as a pro. Though he threw for only 180 yards per game, he limited mistakes and finished the year with 17 touchdowns, five interceptions and a career-high 90.7 QB rating.
You know how the adage goes; if it's not broke, don't fix it.
I understand Harbaugh's desire to add more electricity to the passing game—it's an enticing idea.
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There's no doubt about it—the Miami Dolphins' receiving corps is far from intimidating.
Not that the now-departed Chad Johnson was expected to be a legitimate game changer in 2012, but does the grouping of Legedu Naanee, Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, Roberto Wallace and Marlon Moore scare you?
This isn't to outwardly bash any pass-catcher on Miami's roster—the team simply doesn't have a distinguished group of receivers.
While I'm sure someone will step up after being provided a fantastic opportunity as a starter, the Dolphins will be much smarter to focus on establishing their running game in 2012, especially if Ryan Tannehill wins the starting job.
Tannehill has talent and is already comfortable in the offense Mike Sherman ran while at Texas A&M. But as the majority of rookie quarterbacks do, he'll struggle through some rough periods and he won't have the luxury of being helped out by a star wideout.
What the Dolphins do have is a promising running back trio. Reggie Bush eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in his career in 2011, and said he wants the rushing title in 2012, according to ProFootballTalk.com.
Daniel Thomas was a 2011 second-round pick and Lamar Miller, a shifty runner from the University of Miami, was selected in Round 4 in this year's draft.
Furthermore, the team's offensive line is solid, with Jake Long and Mike Pouncey as sound anchors.