The average NFL play lasts 6-7 seconds from snap to whistle. The average NFL offense runs about 65 plays per game (though Miami was last, running 56.9 last year- figures, right?) The quick math types out there will already see where this is heading: the average amount of time you actually see football being played is 850-900 seconds per game. Which comes out to less than 15 minutes.
Which is, in the end, why the NFL must pay players more, win a concession on the game clock rules, and add more football to football.
Ask any play-starved fantasy owner how he feels watching his team play against one of the many clock-killing offenses in the league, and you will get a desperate version of what pretty much every fan senses: there simply aren't enough plays.
Many teams elect to play defense by running short yardage offenses and running the whole play clock between snaps. This results in the fairly standard 9 minute drive we see at least once a half. How many times does your team get the ball for its first possession with more than half of the first quarter elapsed?
The problems are multi-sided. First, the NFL has done its best to eliminate special teams play, which has resulted in touchbacks rather than plays, a rather joy-killing interlude between drives. Second the NFL changed the rule that allows the clock to run after players leave the field of play for most of the game. When most of us were growing up, the clock remained stopped on any out of bounds play at any moment in the game, which led to those glorious 50 pass afternoons we all remember. Third: the NFL now runs clock after penalties, which used to create stopped clocks. Fourth: few coaches like to snap the ball with significant time left on the play clock.
The end result is that less football is being played. What do we get more of? Instant replay reviews (I'd rather accept a bad call now and again than watch the idiotic number of litigious replays.) Advertisements. And Phillip Rivers making nonsense "adjustments" at the line of scrimmage (how many arcane calls are there for "I'm going to throw another interception now.")
People laughed at Manning's "Omaha" calls- not fully realizing that what they were watching was the future of football- or should I say, the future of no football?
The fix is simple. Give the NFLPA some more loot in exchange for more plays, not for more games. We don't need 18- we need the 16 we have to be more fun. Stop the clock when players go out of bounds, no restarts on any fouls, and please, take five seconds off the play clock. I can't handle the drama of the extended snap count. I guess I don't understand "the chess match." Or maybe I do- and I choose to watch football instead.