We had a discussion yesterday and earlier today about Andy Reid and his love of trying to outsmart opponents. Some people like Andy’s way of doing things. I agree, but think he does it too much.
I really believe that last line is the key point. Running a complex scheme and being creative are good things. However, all things are best in moderation. As the Bible states, “There is a time to reap. A time to sow. A time to be complex. A time to let your playmakers do their thing.”
Trent Dilfer talked several times last season about his days playing for Tony Dungy. He thought highly of Tony as a person, but hated…HATED…the Dungy offense. Tony wanted to run the ball, punt, and play defense. Guess what? That doesn’t win titles.
The obvious counter is to point out the 2000 Ravens. So great, one team in the last 15 years was able to do it. Like those odds, 1/15? Bill Cowher tried for years to win with the formula of running the ball and playing good defense. He didn’t break through and win the Super Bowl until Big Ben arrived. I know Ben was terrible in the game, but he played well that year.
You want to win with running and defense? You better have one of the great defenses of all time. Since that’s not likely, you better get creative. Andy is smart to use his brains and come up with an offensive system that can do a lot of things.
The problem is that there are times when you must be basic. Remember the 2001 NFC title game? The Rams offense wasn’t firing on all cylinders in the 1st half. In the 2nd half they came out and ran Marshall Faulk right down our throats. There was nothing fancy. Martz lined up in jumbo packages and ran on us. That gave them the lead and control of the game.
Think back to the Super Bowl that the Rams won. There is a great NFL Films clip where Dick Vermeil instructs Martz to run more because he thinks Kurt Warner’s got a tired arm.
Martz is famous for running a complex system. He does all kinds of crazy things. He still does understand from time to time that there is a need to simplify. The Bears offense was struggling early on, especially the O-line. Martz started having them run more and the balanced attack led to a much more productive offense. They killed us.
I’m not strictly calling on Andy to run more. We’ve had that discussion 655, 321 times over the years. I do want more balance, but I’ll even settle for less trickery in the passing game. Instead of rolling to the right in the Red Zone how about throwing a slant pass? How about throwing a fade pass?
Again, I’m not asking Andy to switch the offense in a major way. Complex overall is a good thing. The point is that there are times when trying to trick the opponent isn’t the way to go. I thought that a reader comment yesterday from mcud offered good insight.
At the end of the day, you have to be able to let your players do what they do, and let the chips fall where they may.
Would Hickory have won the state title if they had run the picket fence (or whatever Gene Hackman wanted to run) instead of just letting Chitwood do what he was born to do? Maybe the decoy would have worked, but I think scheme gets you only so far, and then you have to let guys be the men they are, for better or for worse. At crunch time, spread the floor, allow your guy to be better than the other guy.
In the key moments of a game you cannot consistently rely on trickery. You must execute basic plays. You must rely on your players to make plays. Every now and then you mix in a good fake and hit the TE down the middle for a big gain. But that fake has to be set up by running the ball over and over. The slant ‘n go only works really well if you run enough slants.
Andy’s style of offense has led to a lot of points and a lot of big plays. It can still be better by working on more efficient execution of basic plays. I have no doubt that we’ll be amongst league leaders in TD passes of more than 50 yards this year. I’m more concerned with what we do the first time we face 3rd/6 against a good defense late in the game. The long TDs will set records and help you win some games. Executing the basic plays in crucial situations will help you win championships.
Andy made an interesting comment in his Philly.com chat yesterday. Look at the question and answer.
Comment From Chris East Falls: What are you going to do differently this year so that Brent Celek gets involved more?
Andy Reid: We did a great job with our down the field throws last season. Our short to intermediate game we need to go back and look at that and point a more emphasis on that.
Is Andy talking about short passes to Brent Celek or short passes in general? There was no follow-up and I’d love to know what he means. I hope he means we need a better short / intermediate passing game overall. That’s an area where we were great at times, but not good enough on a consistent basis. And part of short / intermediate passes is just executing basic plays.
The 2011 offense could be the greatest Eagles offense of all time. I’m really intrigued to see if Reid and Vick are able to take the next step.
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Les Bowen had a good article on Eagles RG Danny Watkins yesterday. One part really stood out to me.
The qualities that have made Watkins valuable to the West Kelowna firefighters – not just the brute strength, but the presence of mind, the focus, the resolve and composure under pressure – also helped make him the Eagles’ first-round draft choice in April, 23rd overall. It wasn’t a happenstance pick, because someone else was already taken. The Eagles had called the Watkinses a week before and said they’d likely draft Danny in the first round if New England didn’t get him first, choosing six slots earlier.
Does that change the way any doubters feel about the pick, knowing the Eagles planned on Watkins as far as a week before the draft. The draft is always a fluid situation, but obviously he was a prime target.