Is the run and shoot making wimps out of opposing teams’ defenses? Here’s an argument that says yes, but maybe not for the reason you might expect:
I have long felt that tackle football, especially at the NFL level, has been migrating toward 11-man flag ball. I think it may be inevitable if the game is going to continue to be a significant part of a society that has become softer and gentler, and I think that the NFL, by investing in youth flag football, understands this.
Watch a pass-only team (such as Hawaii) on offense. There often isn’t a whole lot more contact when they’re on offense than you’d see in flag ball.
Yes, receivers (and occasionally a runner) are taken to the ground, but with the exception of sacks and the occasional big hit on a helpless receiver (which, despite my dislike for receivers as a class, I would like to see outlawed), most of the time the ball carrier is tripped up, pulled to the ground, or pushed out of bounds (if he doesn’t go out of bounds voluntarily). The tackles are rarely violent, and the blocking mostly consists of holding a defender at arm’s length.
The game we’re playing now is a different one from the game I played 50 years ago when I was in college, and considering the way football has evolved from the days of the flying wedge to today’s pass-crazy game with its push-and-grab “blocking”, there is no reason to believe that the game we see today will be the same one they’ll be playing 50 years from now.
I fully expect blocking below the waist – on all plays – will be the next thing to go. Other than when backs have to pick up a blitz, it’s no longer of much use to pass-first teams, anyhow.