Originally Posted by MWM
And why the automatic first down? It can be third and 20 with an incomplete pass, and a defensive holding will give the offense 5 yards and an automatice first down.
Because if it wasn't an automatic first down, it'd make sense to go for the takedown any time you thought you were beat on third & long. Give the 5 yards, better luck on 3rd & 15.
I agree with the principle, however, that the NFL's rules now skew way too heavily towards protecting pass-first offensive schemes. Defenders don't have enough freedom to play physically with wideouts (many don't even try any more) due to heavy holding and PI enforcement, linemen don't have the freedom to attack the quarterback in the pocket (or out of the pocket) due to league mandates on calling roughing on any blow to the QB outside of the mid-torso, etc.
If I were designing an NFL offense from scratch, I'd sell the farm for 5 pass blocking linemen and an accurate QB. I'd never leave the 3 WR / 1 TE / 1 RB set, and I'd operate at least 60-70% of the time form the shotgun. Until they change the rules, that's the most effective system to operate in the NFL right now.