Winning Concepts - A review of the old and the new.

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Nate Newton -

In the past we had guys on the offensive line that would tell the guy in front of him, "we are running up this A-gap, try to stop us!" And then the 'Boys would proceed to do it. Guys like Nate Newton for example was one of the typical "here we come, try to stop us" kind of guys.

A very fine article by one of our FP writers, Joey Ickes has a very relevant article on what it really means to have "balance" in your offense. He points out, and rightly so, that in one aspect it doesn't mean to have a run/pass ratio of 50/50, but rather to not dominate the plays from just two or three players or positions.

The key in both the past and now is not to run 50% of the time, but rather TO BE ABLE to run and pass EQUALLY WELL.

And unlike when we were able to "telegraph" our intentions and still pull it off, the reason for the ability to BE ABLE to do both is two fold. The one mentioned in the comment section of Joey's post the most is to be ABLE to run out the clock in the 4th quarter, but an at least equally important and perhaps a more important reason is to "stay unpredictable" so the defense has to defend EVERY possibility and EVERY inch of the football field.

If they don't have a clue as to who or where you are going, then that gives us the best chance to beat a defense.

Again, this is the key to beating a defense....being unpredictable. And to do this you need Offensive Linemen who are EQUALLY capable of moving the pile on a running play, and protecting the QB on pass plays. This more than anything is the true meaning of "being balanced" IMHO.

The NFL for years has preached that there are 5 "skill" position players that a Defense has to account for on every play,. Well as mentioned in the title of this article, the NEW direction in this years, and last years NFL is to make the defense worry about the "6" skill positions on offense.

There are 5 offensive linemen and 6 "other" positions to equal the 11 guys on offense.

With the advent of the "Pistol" we are seeing more use of that 6th player. One could define the "skill" positions as anyone who can "Normally" take the ball across the goal line, as after all, winning is about scoring more points than your opponent, and to do that best is to make the defense defend 6 skill positions instead of just 5.

Runs, and Passes, and the reasons why teams feel that they should "run" the clock out instead of "passing" the clock out............

First, the obvious reason....when you run the ball, the clock keeps going, whether the run gained any yards or not. But, the other reason might be associated with this old saying.....

"When you pass the ball, there are three things that can happen and two out of the three are bad!"

Complete, Incomplete and Interceptions.

What is overlooked is that that the same "two out of the three are bad" could be applied to the run play as well.

Positive yards, Non-Positive yards, and Fumbles.

Perhaps someone else can come up with better stats, but I took the total amount of team Interceptions for last year and got 506 interceptions, and then did the same for team "forced fumbles" and came up with 447 forced fumbles, ( are all fumbles included in the "forced" category? I have no idea.), so you can see if my research numbers are typical and are correct it is almost as likely to fumble as it is to throw an interception. Something that intuitively I would not have guessed. Now, given, fumbles still happen slightly less, but is a short pass "easier" than a short run?

Other than "turnovers", another, if not the next most, important stat, just may be "negative yards" and that may be one reason why teams are very predictable in their play selections, but negative plays are huge and so how do "sacks" stack up to the number of negative yards in the run game?

There were 1169 sacks last year with a total of 7533 yards lost, and negative running play yards for a team can't be anywhere near that total since I found this quote, " With 1,114 total yards lost during his ten year career, former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders is the NFL's all-time leader in negative yardage' , So, armed with that stat, I can't imagine an NFL total for 32 teams being anywhere close to 7,533 running yards lost in one season, (maybe someone can help on the actual negative running yards per year, as I may be all wet), so, if my thinking is correct, then perhaps that is the reason teams are more apt to run the ball late in games to try to avoid the negative yards from sacks, (not to mention the sacks that produce fumbles), and not try to pass for short yards.

And, finally to continue with my theme of Winning Concepts, I like what I am hearing out of JG5000's talks lately, and that is when he talks about looking at the offensive concepts of winning teams and seeing if what they are doing can be applied to our playbook.

The Patriots are the offensive pace setters and their use of two tightends and their offensive play count are just two of the innovations in offenses that are happening in the NFL. Another is the advent of the 6th skill position being more of a factor and the use of the "pistol" offensive formation being yet another, and those may be tied to each other. The number of offensive plays per game is on the rise. If I am not mistaken, the top 5 teams in number of offensive plays, were in the playoffs.

Sixty offensive plays per game is normal, but Chip Kelly ran over 80 plays per game in college, and the Patriots were near the 70 plays per game count. The concept being, the more plays there are the more chances to score. Garrett is talking about being more "up tempo." Also, if the offense spends less time at the LOS, the defense has less time to read the offense and less time to get set correctly.

Having said that, it must be noted that a big part of the JG5000 offensive philosophy is to "take what the defense gives you" and that means the QB coming to the LOS with two plays having been called in the huddle, and for the QB to "read" the defense and determine which of those two plays, (Usually one run, and one pass), will work the best.

Well, this means NOT hurrying up, but to "wait" for the defense to get set, and then audible to the correct play if the first one is not the right one. It is not this simple, but for example, if there are "8 in the box" and the run was the primary play called, then audible to the pass play. This is directly against a "hurry up" offensive game plan. So, we will have to see if there is a change to a more "up tempo" game plan or philosophy.

A team only needs about 2-10 plays out of the pistol where the QB is a threat of running the ball for it to be effective, because the defense will have to spend an inordinate amount of time "preparing" for it and will have to use defensive formations that can account for it on EVERY play that is run out of the pistol formation.

Hope this adds a little to the discussion of "being balanced" that Joey began in his fine article.


And now, a little about why I have not been opining much lately.....

A couple of weeks ago, I accepted a Software Engineering consulting job in Cincinnati, Ohio and have been settling in and getting used to my new surroundings digs. It is a 6-18 month "gig" and my wife and family are still hunkered down in Sacramento, CA.

Now that I am somewhat settled in, I hope to do some more opining and commenting as I usually do, and even post some more Football 101 articles.

For those that may not be aware, Dave has done an outstanding job of assembling some of the "X's and "O's", ( which is my normal genre), in one of the "pull downs", it is under the "SECTIONS" title, and it is called "Cowboys Playbooks, Football 101", click on the "Load more stories" at the bottom to view some of my earlier posts to learn some of the basics, such as the receiver route tree, and the inner workings of the offense and defensive schemes, such as the offensive terminology for calling a play and much, much more.

Thanks Dave for the best site on the web.....

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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