Is this what the NFL wants?

During the second quarter of Sunday’s Titans – Jaguars game, Titans safety Michael Griffin blitzed and had a clear shot at Jaguars quarterback David Garrard. Griffin found Garrard and placed both hands on him on what looked to be a sure sack.

Instead of a sack, Garrard scrambled out of Griffin’s grasp.

What is interesting about the play was not Garrard’s effort in escaping the sack. It was Griffin’s lack of effort in tackling Garrard.

After the play, Randy Cross, CBS’ color commentator, speculated that the NFL’s crackdown on defensive players may have been in the back of Griffin’s mind. I wondered the same thing.

Is this what the NFL wants? Shouldn’t defenders be concentrating on tackling defenders and sacking quarterbacks instead of thinking about a possible five-figure fine from the league?

All season long, the NFL league office has been fining defensive players for what used to be considered as clean hits. The most egregious fine so far was given to New York Giants defense end Justin Tuck. After the November 2 Giants – Cowboys game, Tuck was fined $7,500 for tackling Cowboys quarterback Brooks Bollinger “with his full body weight.”

There was a huge uproar about the Tuck fine, which the NFL later rescinded.

In October, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu had this to say about the current state of NFL football, as dictated by the league office:

“It loses so much of its essence, and it really becomes like a pansy game,” the Steelers’ Pro Bowl strong safety said.

“I think regarding the evolution of football, it’s becoming more and more flag football, two-hand touch. We’ve really lost the essence of what real American football is about. I think it’s probably all about money. They’re not really concerned about safety.”

Michael Griffin’s effort against David Garrard looked like a flag football play. I’m not sure it was all Griffin’s fault.

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