Fans may love the pro football of the 1980s, with its jazzy passing, computer-devised formations and high scoring.
But what about the poor personnel scout, the guy who has spent most of his adult life studying game films of Sam Huff and believing Woody Hayes knew more about passing than any coach alive?
For that scout to survive until his pension comes due, he's going to have to adjust. To help him, here's a road map through this changing game, where teams gaining 400 total yards a game are becoming as commonplace as Al Davis beating the National Football League in court.
Tight ends who weigh 250 pounds and look like wide receivers are in. Tight ends who are big but run like John Mackey are out.
Blame Kellen Winslow. The tight end for the San Diego Chargers is almost as fast as a sprinter, is strong enough to block and, once he gets free in the secondary, is big enough to run over those defensive backs unfortunate enough to stand in his way.
So now mostly everyone in the league wants a Kellen Winslow. "We're all copycats," said Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs, who, while he was San Diego offensive coordinator, decided to move Winslow a step off the line and send him in motion so he could move into the secondary faster.
The problem is, there aren't many Winslows around. For a while, coaches were making big, quick players into defensive linemen. But with more teams wanting at least two front-line tight ends, each with improved mobility (and no sacrifice in size), scouts have to look at things differently.
"The more success the pros have with tight ends, the more colleges probably will start using them, too, and that will help us in the long run," said General Manager George Young of the New York Giants. "Now, you spend your time looking at players at other positions and wondering if they would be effective somewhere else, such as at tight end."
Cornerbacks who can do well in man-to-man coverages and tackle like a linebacker are in. Cornerbacks who need to be hidden within zone defenses are out.
"It's come full cycle," General Manager Bobby Beathard of the Redskins said. "Once, you looked exclusively for cover men, guys who could survive in man-to-man. Then zones came in and you didn't need a quy with quite the quickness. As long as he was solid and willing to play within a team defense, he could be an asset. Now, with the new (passing) rules, a corner who can cover tightly is a real need. Otherwise these receivers will be almost unstoppable."
Little guys such as Lemar Parrish, who would never have survived long in the NFL if tackling were a major responsibility, have become an endangered species. Thanks to the performance of San Francisco's secondary last year, cornerbacks are being asked to play more aggressively and come up faster on end sweeps. Their ability to dig a shoulder into a runner's chest is becoming almost as valuable as their quickness when backpedaling.
Nose guards are in. Lumbering defensive linemen, especially tackles, are out.
This is one area in which colleges and pros agree. College coaches long have used defenses that required a nose guard. And for years, those unfortunate athletes found themselves men without positions in the NFL. They were too small for tackles, too slow for ends. Not anymore.
"You never saw pros draft nose guards to play a nose guard but they do now," Young said. "Baltimore did it in the last draft. It's not the most popular position on our level because it's difficult to play. You have to be tough against the run and coaches like for you to be a pass rusher, too. You get hit on every play, so it wears you down."
Linebackers who can blitz as well as they can tackle are in. Linebackers who rely more on strength than quickness are out.
Blame this change on Lawrence Taylor. As a rookie last season with the Giants, Taylor's duties centered around his ability to rush the passer. NFL folks can't remember the last time one player drew so much attention so fast. Now, other teams are reexamining their strategies.
And those may not be the only changes our poor scout must adjust to. Nobody in the pros is about to move to an option offense, in which the quarterback takes a constant pounding while sprinting down the line. But some coaches, such as Gibbs, don't mind letting a quarterback roll out more frequently than in past years, giving defenses more to worry about. The more effective the rollout becomes, the more scouts will have to search for mobile quarterbacks.
With the liberalized passing rules, the Bob Chandler-type receivers -- those with nifty moves but less than amazing speed -- are becoming relics. Again, the emphasis is on quickness. Teams are more willing to take on long-range projects, those players who may be short on techniques but long on breakaway talents, such as Renaldo (Skeets) Nehemiah of the San Francisco 49ers, a star in track and field but an as-yet-unproven commodity on the football field.
If the scout wants to survive, he also would be wise to become friendly with the more successful offensive coordinators in the league. Once, future head coaches came from the NFL defensive ranks. Now, Gibbs, St. Louis' Jim Hanifan, Denver's Dan Reeves and New York's Ray Perkins have advanced after establishing themselves as top offensive thinkers.
"The one thing I never do is say that something is permanent in football," Young said. "Remember, defenses adjust after a while, too. They'll find ways to shut things down and there probably will be a cry for even more liberal (offensive) rules."
But one thing even rules can't affect is the increasing importance of injuries. The 1980s so far is the decade of parity, with teams matched very evenly. It only takes a small change to make one into a winner and another into an also-ran.
Consider this: last year's Super Bowl teams, San Francisco and Cincinnati, had only a handful of major injuries. They had among the fewest roster moves in the league, and lost no key players.
"As far as I'm concerned," said Richie Petitbon, the Redskins' defensive coordinator, "the team with the best chance to be a winner this year is the one that stays healthy. And how can you tell that until after the season is all over?"