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Return of power football?

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Return of power football?

Post  Big_Pete on Thu Jun 19, 2008 11:11 pm

part of an interesting article by Pat Kirwan


Will bigger be better?

As we continue to see defenses get faster and more athletic to handle all the matchup problems offenses throw at them, perhaps it is time for offenses to try a different tact. The trend is to use 230-pound middle linebackers who can get to the deep middle, 250-pound defensive ends who are best known as pass rushers, safeties with corner skills who are a bit undersized from the old-school 6-foot-2, 225-pounder, in-the-box strong safeties, weakside backers who are converted safeties, and extra defensive back packages based on down and distance. The defenses did what they had to do -- build units based on speed.

I get the feeling that a few offensive coordinators are starting to see a new opportunity emerging from these defensive tactics.

It was suggested to me that a few teams may be considering an old-fashioned offensive mentality that might be more from the Vince Lombardi school than the spread offense of 2007. It just might be time to send two big in-line tight end types out on to the field with a big old-fashioned fullback and a power runner. It might just be time to punch these quick defenses right in the nose with some smash-mouth power football.

One coach told me his team's divisional opponents dictate this switch -- tighten the line splits down so quick defensive linemen can't penetrate a gap, and roll a short-yardage philosophy out in the middle of the field.

It's still in the formative stages, but here's the plan as I understand it: Force the undersized weak linebacker to play on the line of scrimmage; make the hybrid safety play in the box, make the undersized pass rusher play over the offensive tackle with a tight end able to block down on him and send a fullback, who is bigger than the middle linebacker, right at him. It might not be exciting football but it would be a very interesting way to attack speed defenses.

The first team that came to mind when I had the discussion about attacking defenses this way was the Miami Dolphins. Picture the right side, with Justin Smiley at guard, Jake Long next to him and tight end Anthony Fasano next to Long. In the backfield, 250-pound FB Boomer Grigsby is leading Ronnie Brown. There would be some running room over there -- and it might look just as inviting going to the left.

The Dolphins could shorten the game, not expose their quarterbacks and keep the team in games a lot longer. Everyone knows Bill Parcells always loved big defensive players; when he sees all of the undersized defenses popping up around the NFL, he knows they will struggle with bulk and power offense.

The true test will come when a team uses this philosophy when they are down by six or seven points, deciding not to panic and throw more than they are capable of, risking turnovers. Last year, we saw the Raiders stick with the run when they were down in games and at times they were able to climb back in games by staying committed to the run. They had no other choice at the time; a team like Miami could be in the same boat this year.

It's too early to tell if it will be a trend in 2008, but I do know offenses are getting very tempted to bring a power game to the undersized defenses around the NFL. As one offensive coordinator said to me: "Everything that goes around comes around, and it just might be time to dust off the tight splits and heavy personnel."
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Re: Return of power football?

Post  Big_Pete on Thu Jun 19, 2008 11:12 pm

Does it sound like the 2007 running game to anyone else?
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