Dallas owner Jerry Jones will probably offer Sanders a huge signing bonus—maybe as much as $10 million—but Deion's heart may still be in San Francisco; he knows their offensive and defensive systems, and if the Giants indicate that they want to sign him to a long-term deal, the City by the Bay could start to look a lot more appealing.
Two seasons ago the NFL experienced what seemed to be an epidemic of 9-6 games. Drastic measures were deemed necessary to cure pro football's offensive woes. As a result, last year the league cracked down on defensive contact with receivers, tightened roughing-the-passer rules and moved the kickoff back to the 30-yard line. Eureka! An average of seven more touchdowns were scored each weekend in 1994 than in '93; 16 kickoffs were returned for TDs last fall, 12 more than in '93; and last season's cumulative quarterback rating of 76.72 was the highest ever—more than 1� points better than the second-best year, 1990. But the most revealing statistic of all may be that '94 was the worst year for pass rushers since the league began keeping sack totals in '63. The reason? Offensive linemen could line up deeper off the ball and thus did not get faked as easily. Each team averaged only 2.09 sacks per game in 1994, tying the record for fewest sacks set back in '72. What does all this portend for 1995? "The defenses have had a year to study the rules," says Patriot offensive tackle Bruce Armstrong. "This year you'll see more blitzes from everywhere, trying to take the offense out of its comfort zone, and I think you'll see offenses respond by throwing more short passes and safe stuff."
The End Zone
Is that you, Yogi? After Jacksonville beat Miami in the preseason for its first win ever, quarterback Steve Beuerlein said, "It's like winning the Super Bowl. But you've got to keep it in perspective."