Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The First Five Seasons After the '78 Rule Changes—1978-82

By John Turney
There were numerous changes in the 1970s that opened up the passing game. NFL rule makers eliminated the head slap, offensive linemen could extend their arms more liberally, holding calls got reduced from 15 to 10 yards. In 1978 the offensive linemen could extend their arms and keep them there, and defenders could only bump receivers once and on within five yards on the line of scrimmage.
That is just a list of the major rule changes. The goal was the make the game more exciting for fans by making it easier to pass.
And it worked. Passing increased.

Here are the NFL's leading passers from 1978-82 (1,400 or more attempts)

Dan Fouts and Air Coryell were the ones most ready to exploit the new rules. He threw for 19,481 yards and 128 toucdowns. Terry Bradshaw was next with 117 touchdowns (and he was 49-21 as a starter, one game ahead of Fouts).

Here is the same chart (1,000 or more attempts) from the previous five seasons, 1973-77:
Oddly, there are more passers with an 80+ rating but the yards per game are much lower. Ken Stabler threw the most touchdowns (1.53 per game) which trailed Fouts from 1978-82 (1.78).

Tarkenton's 196.8 yards passing per game would be eight in the next five years.

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting how high Anderson is rated considering how oft injured he was 78 79 and 80. He actually had better numbers in the earlier era. He should be in the HoF along with Fouts and Staubach as the 3 best QB's of that era.
    Also I believe Anderson Staubach and Steve Young are the only QBs to win the passing title the same year being the rushing leader at QB perhaps you could research that