If you were interested in the quality of play—watched only out of Pavlovian habit or fantasy football or gambling—then the 2012 season ranks among the worst. Not as bad as the 2011 season, in which a Pop Warner second-stringer could have passed for 5,000 yards because of defenses neutered by rule changes and stripped of aggression. But close.

On Monday seven coaches got fired, and it should have been eight, with the New York Jets’ beyond-bombastic Rex Ryan. Owner impatience is one reason, but so were listless teams that played such quarterback studs as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Nick Foles, Brady Quinn, and roughly 35 different ones from the Arizona Cardinals.

The NFL is troubled. It’s not because of concussions or violence off the field or the league’s own politically correct, pussy-whipped ad campaign for improved safety. It is because the product itself is largely unwatchable, too many dull teams playing too many other dull teams, couch catatonia any time the New York Jets are on, the only excitement now guessing the halftime entertainment at the Super Bowl and which performer will trip or simply keel over from old age. Or wondering if the day will ever come that Tim Tebow throws an incomplete pass still in-bounds.