The NFL has—quite literally—taken its lumps over the increased emphasis on roughing the passer calls.

But with the first quarter of the season in the books, the league has some news that may indicate overall health because of it. 

The league’s research department said on Tuesday that quarterbacks are lighting it up at a record-setting pace. The 228 passing touchdowns through four weeks is the most in that span by far in the modern NFL era. The next closest season through four games was back in 2013 (205). We’ve had six and four touchdown performances from Patrick Mahomes, two four-touchdown performances from Ryan Fitzpatrick and an out-of-nowhere six-touchdown afternoon from Mitchell Trubisky last week, aiding in the surge.

The correlation? As roughing the passer calls rise, so has passing yards per game. In this week’s Sports Illustrated, which examines the current state of roughing the passer calls and the impending revolution it will cause, we’ve projected out the records that are in line to drop should roughing calls occur at the same clip they have so far in 2018: Passing touchdowns in a season, passing attempts per game and passing yards per game. Quarterbacks like Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Kirk Cousins could set career highs.

Why this matters: The NFL has already lost all the fans they will lose at the hands of the president. Donald Trump used the heightened emphasis on player safety and participation in awareness-raising gestures to combat racial inequality to shake the tree loose of skeptical, easily influenced followers who have previously been drawn to his rhetoric.

A theory: This boon time could replace the lost bodies with the next fantasy-focused generation. A bevy of young quarterbacks like Jared Goff, Mahomes, Trubisky and Andrew Luck are all in the top 10 in passing touchdowns. Four quarterbacks have at least four passing plays of 40 yards or more. Ten quarterbacks are averaging a passer rating of 100 or better, with Cam Newton hanging just outside that number and rising quickly.

What better way to usher in the next generation by mimicking the once-inconceivable video game performances that got them interested in the first place? Is that a tradeoff worth making?

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Sign up for The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

Image placeholder title

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Rams or Chiefs? The MMQB staff takes on that question in our latest power rankings. … The history of Drew Brees, before he makes history. … More on roughing the passer and its far-reaching consequences from the G.O.A.T., Tim Layden.

SI Recommends

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Baker Mayfield has made the Browns a real football team. … An oral history of the night Jerry Jones knelt. … How the Blake Bortles offense was born.

Image placeholder title

PRESS COVERAGE

1. Mychal Kendricks has been hit by an indefinite suspension after admitting to insider trading.

2. Isaiah Crowell wiped his butt with a football and got fined, but in a true moment of patriotism, he was then sponsored by a brand of male butt wipes. Maybe things are starting to turn around here in the old U-S of A.

3. From The New York Times: A player’s The Colts and Patriots are trying to downplay that whole thing about the Patriots’ offensive coordinator taking the Colts job, hiring some assistants and then changing his mind.

5. Arthur Blank is “concerned” after his team started 1-3.

6. J.J. Watt is back.

7. How to fix the apparent rift between Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers.

Image placeholder title

THE KICKER

Let’s all make Wednesday, Oct. 3 a day we remember for making someone else’s day better.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com.