AAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnndddddddddd, welcome to part two of Forward Thinking Volume Five. Part one was a reiteration of a history lessons, and a quick glimpse of what I see as the next defensive evolution. I also looked into certain modern offensive formations, and how spacing and skilled weapons play to offenses' strengths.
In part two, I want to look more deeply into modern offenses and how I see them utilizing their improved athleticism, and combating more fluid defenses that have ever improving athletes. I do not see this being a full-time change, modern offenses are ruling the day except in the postseason. This is a useful perspective (read: gimmick,), whereas the defensive change is, I feel, Ryan's ultimate goal.
Jerry brings in progressive talent. Every team has big, fast skill position players on offense. Not many have the sheer athleticism that we do at our TE and O-line positions. These players give us the ability to cover more ground and move more fluidly than the average offensive line. Our RBs can catch and block in the open field, and our WRs are no slouches at blocking either.
Our starting offense would be Romo, Fiametta, Murray, Bryant, Austin, Witten, Free, Smith, Myers (#55, FA C from Texans,). Kowalski and Arkin. Phillips, Radway/Harris/Holmes and Felix would be the first skill position subs. Felix and Phillips are heavily relied on. Romo could come off of the field on some downs and be replaced by Harris/Phillip/Felix or even Nagy depending on what our goal was (a QB like Tebow, RGIII or Cam would be ideal, but the threat of a ball carrier who can throw a deep spiral is enough to keep thoughts in DC's heads,). (Also, in a lot of the formations, I drew in Nagy as Kowalski/Arkin. That was my fault...)
I want to be realistic; we have an outstanding offense that does not need to evolve just yet. I don’t want to force a change and remove us from an advantageous situation. This is a developmental chess match, and I see defenses being at a level where the new step will be forced soon enough...
This offense will use the added athleticism to put more men at the point of attack than is normally seen. Things like visibility (hiding RBs behind walls so they emerge at full speed going against the grain,) and PI calls to its advantage by putting receivers in a position of deception, where DBs won't know if he is a blocker, receiver, or sometimes ball carrier. Also, much like the Water D stacking D-linemen away from the line so they can gain momentum, our running game is going to involve a lot more pulling in open space; like Jimmy's offense.
This offense is completely dependent on receivers reading where the defense is sitting and releasing to open spots. Not a new concept, but timing, trust that your teammate knows his playbook is a huge leap of faith. Romo has put a lot on his shoulders to make this work already, and has taken a lot of heat when it failed. We would throw to zones, I personally believe that Romo has the awareness to do this; may even play to his strengths.
Our WRs won't be placed against sidelines, to eliminate the "extra defender", we will also see a lot of bunch formations and motion. All of this with the goal of eliminating defenders' influence on the play. Same as the Water D only defends one ball, this offence will only protect one ball. A lot of improvisation, and playing to strengths, which in our case is our total offensive athleticism.
Another advantage to this offense is that receivers can line up impromptu in the two minute drill. They will not have to spend time communicating and switching sides of the field. Everyone can line up wherever is quickest, and Romo can call what he sees. Simplicity…
Our New Offense
Garrett’s playbook is limited. Does signing Callahan show he accepts his share of responsibility for recent failures in big moments. I see our offense after ’07 as being surpisingly rigid for our skill position talent and Romo’s ability to improvise. Callahan and Robinson should add some aspects, I try to explore them below.
GB’s offense Robinson worked in falls close to NO/NE/DAL. While NO gets almost sandlot at times, the Packers seemed to run a structured offense that allowed receivers to adjust trajectory on the fly to hit seams and daylight. I would like to call attention to a couple plays that illustrate simplistic deception and improvisation triumphing thinking. This is a Seahawks play, from the mind of a college coach. And this is a good example of a designed "sandlot" play from the Saints.
Both plays are creations that I view as being cooked up by coaches that know that defenses base their tenancies off of offensive tenancies. The best way to keep a defender from hitting your receiver within five yards is to give him a more valuable target, make him unaware that he should be focusing on your receiver, or make him unsure if he is about to draw a penalty for hitting your receiver.
Img 1 – this is how we might see a traditional 4-3 or 3-4 respond to one of our heavy sets. Pretty traditional front on both sides, intuitive spacing, the SS has cheated up. Romo will fake the right draw to Murray and roll right. He has to challenge the LOS to pull defense up and be aware of Felix’s designed fly. Felix will have a full head of steam when he emerges from behind the line chaos and can adjust his route according to positioning of the FS.
If Jones is not open, we still have ten people attempting to control a running lane. If after Witten, Phillip, Austin and Murray’s blocks inevitably break down they can become eligible receivers, but they have to release cleanly to avoid OPI calls. The easiest way to do this is simply to release to open space. Throw up a hand and break to the biggest patch of open field, continue on that projected route to avoid miscommunication with QB, and run through the whistle.
This is a suicide mission for Romo. Let’s look at something that puts him in the position of decision making but not in the position of smashed on the sideline...
IMG 2 - Spread set. More traditional use of individual matchups, but we will keep things very simple and in that, we can use our team athleticism to occupy more space faster than the defense can. Only three of our receivers have dedicated routes. Radway is going to attack the SS at an angle and either turn him inward or try for a deep one on one. Austin is a good route runner and will beat the OLB if the D only rushes three, so he will be responsible for spacing the left. Holmes will stay outside and go deep to occupy the FS away from center field. Dez and Holmes will be free to react to developments and find a zone.
Robinson excelled at coaching spacing to his WRs in GB. They always seemed to be where they should be without disclosing who was the intended receiver. Watching the Pack over the last few years, there was many times when a receiver released at the "end" of his route and was on the same page as Rodgers. Of course, we have seen that a lot from Romo over the years with any receiver he have put next to him.
That is part of why Callahan and Robinson are excellent compliments to Garrett. They will temper his structure the way Garrett’s structure tempers Jerry’s shiftiness. Between Robinson and Callahan, Coach Garrett will not have to be the head offensive mind on the practice field, freeing him to roam around and yell at people like Jimmy...
This is how the play would normally break down. CBs listed for clarity, not depth chart number. CB 2 would pick up Radway, who has the speed to force the SS’s attention. CB 3 would cover the inside because the OLB in this case lined up to show coverage, but is going to rush. CB 5 is going to be taken deep by Holmes, who is also forcing attention from the FS. CB four will be positioned outside of Harris.
Romo should have four seconds in this set. He will be able to watch things develop and pick who he fakes to. Let’s say he pumps to Holmes and throws to Harris, who has jumped in behind Austin.
Let’s say we face the Jets. They have two solid corners and create a pass rush with three linemen. They lock Dez and Austin up, then let their SS play up to threaten blitz, FS will be deep center-field.
In this situation, Radway would still clear out the SS, who is too far from Dez to stop a quick toss. Austin will run the same basic route to the soft spot. After the inside move, he will have Cromartie/Revis in trail, passing the OLB and heading to the SS. Holmes will sag to the middle of field to occupy the FS. Dez has a one-on-one and space. Harris breaks outward behind Austin, then follows Holmes.
At this point The D is spying Romo. A timely head fake or pump likely frees Dez or Austin. If Romo pumps to Austin, Dez has to jump the inside and should have field and a one-on-one. If the fake is to dez and the SS comes up, Austin has to stay deep and maintain space. The FS is going to see all of this developing with a deep receiver on each side.
Very simple routes, and we have the QB to do this all day. In fact, he could easily audible one receiver and change the D’s response at any time.
Want to have some real fun? Make Tyron eligible. If he pancakes the OLB he can hit the flat, and it keeps the MLB honest in the second scenario ;). Think of him as Martellus Bennett, he could catch himself into a rhythm, but are our coaches really going to let him?
No Romo, Sweep to weak side. I am not talking about a wild-cat. I am talking about us putting more mass on the field and whoopin’ some tail. Our RBs have sure enough hands to handle a snap, WHY DO WE HAVE A QB ON THE FIELD??? Cut out the middle man and replace him with Nagy!
Free can handle backside coverage. Who is really going to catch Murray from trail that fast? From the shotgun, Murray has taken his first step by the time the ball arrives. He is off and running. Behind a lot of skilled blockers. I don’t know if we have a player that can throw and run, but his is a golden opportunity for a quick pass to a releasing Austin, Dez, Fiametta, Witten or Phillips.
The point of this formation is to cause a flood. We will abuse the natural hole and peel through the levels of the defense. We will have to help each other chip, shed blocks and maintain gaps. Essentially, the edge of the spear will keep its feet moving like a RB, and the next wave will pick up the tips’ shed off blocks. Murray will use his vision and find the hole to make his cut. I believe Felix would excel in this scheme, also.
Just for illustration… OL spread out, and Murray is going to have to have a moment to let the play develop, or he is going to run into some big ugly (and Lissy’s) hind-ends. There are some large defensive lines in the league, but their secondaries cannot match the size and strength of what we can present. Plus they actually have to tackle our ball carrier.
Ultimately, that is why the Pack used a draw against the Cowboys in the Ice Bowl. The goal-line smash is the only play that matches the full strength of the offense against the defense. Also, once you take the opponent's footing away, it is easiest to punch them in the gut.
I tried to keep this realistic... I might put some really far-fetched formations in the comments...