BILL WALSH ALWAYS BELIEVED that pro football should evolve into a game played primarily through the air. Now, nearly a quarter century after the legendary 49ers coach introduced the West Coast offense, Walsh's pass-happy vision is becoming reality. Through Week 13, NFL quarterbacks were completing 20.5 passes per game, tied for most all-time, and teams were averaging 230.1 passing yards per game, destroying the previous mark of 221.6 that was set just last year. In 1978, the year before Walsh took over the 49ers, teams averaged 158.8 passing yards per game.
So why are these records under fire? One obvious answer is the lockout. As a result of the shortened preseason, run-blocking was atrocious in the first month of the season, the worst I've seen in my nine years of analyzing tape of every NFL game. Take the Titans, for example: Behind a revamped run-blocking scheme (O-coordinator Chris Palmer switched Tennessee from man-to-man to zone blocking), the Titans averaged a paltry 2.4 yards per