Thursday, January 1, 2009

Spread Offenses and NFL - January 01, 2009

Why spread offenses aren't run as consistently in the NFL as they are in NCAA?

First the defenses are quicker. The secondary keeps up with the receivers so it takes longer for the receivers to get open. The defensive line men can get to the quarterback quicker if they put a good move on an offensive lineman and if a linebacker stalls and hits a gap in the o-line then he will get to the quarterback pretty quickly.
With the faster pass rush the quarterbacks do not have as much time to sit there and wait for their receivers to get open leading to risk passes that safeties and cornerbacks can make plays on.

Second, if there is no one in the back field or just an offset RB, then teams can commit more players to the blitz or drop more to coverage, again limiting the time a quarterback has and making it more difficult for a receiver to get open. Additionally, most linebackers can make those open field tackles so if teams runs draws they are not as effective as in the college game. Also, the linebackers do a better job in coverage against the backs so the swing pass is not an effective outlet like it is in the college game (linebackers make the open field tackle again on the swing).

Third, speed and athleticism of NFL quarterbacks. If you have seen Texas run the spread then you have seen Colt McCoy make plays with his feet by extending the play or going out and running for a gain. Have you ever seen Peyton Manning or Phillip Rivers run? Some teams do have quarterbacks that can run the system, but then you have to go back to the first two reasons. Besides that, the spread offenses require quarterbacks to go out and make plays and it isn't worth sending out focal quarterbacks up against hard-hitting. Quarterbacks rarely win the battle in the NFL and can be injured.

Fourth, in the NFL you have to vary your offense. In every game you will see a glimpse of the spread as a team runs the hurry up or goes into Shotgun, but with all the information available to the teams during the game it is hard to stick with a single set of formations (hence formations like the Wildcat). So most teams do run the spread offense but not to the same level as Mike Leach does with Texas Tech were it is an every down affair. Defenses will make the stops if they know what is coming every down, so teams must vary sets.

Finally, NFL defenses are more prepared to keep up with the hurry up offenses. Obviously practice and increased film study, but with the addition of in the headset-helmet system, defenses do not need to run over to the side line to receive the play.

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