Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Scheme Team

Since there was no NFL RedZone Channel to watch last night,  I actually got to see extended portions of the Packers-Chiefs game--and I must say that Head Coach Mike McCarthy has developed the perfect offensive scheme for the modern NFL game.  After a boring opening drive it appeared that Playcaller Tom Clement just flipped to random pages of the playbook and radioed them in to quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  And for most of the game, the Chiefs defense seemed to have no answer for what was going on.

Nearly everything the Packers run is based on deception and misdirection.  They pass out of short yardage formations.  They run draw plays out of spread formations.  They will run the same receiver screen on back-to-back plays--just to opposite sides of the field.  The intent is to keep defenses so off balance that no specific coverages or blitz packages can be used in any down or distance situation.

And I can't remember an NFL team so adept as using defensive penalties as an integral part of their offense.  Third and inches?  Don't put in your Jumbo Package with three tight ends and a fullback--instead, hurry up to the line and snap the ball before the opposition can get their 12th man off the field.  Third and four with a blitz look from the defense?  Use the hard count to get them to jump offsides again and again and again for an easy first down.  And when the d-line does jump--everyone go deep because its a free play. 

Speaking of deep throws, those are less about stretching the defense or winning a sprint to the post and more about the increased probability of there being a pass interference call that gets a big gain without even having to complete the pass.  Add in Aaron Rodgers' mobility and he can keep a play alive long enough to get the inevitable Illegal Contact or Defensive Holding penalty that the NFL has made a point of emphasis now.  You factor in all of that and you can see why trying to play defense against Green Bay is so frustrating.

It is also that scheme that allows the Packers to deal so effectively with the rash of injuries that seem to beset every NFL team.  Nothing they do is based upon receivers needing to be super-fast to get open or running backs to make three guys miss and take it to the house.  In fact, being "average" means defenders will be in the vicinity of passes--and therefore more likely to get called for Illegal Contact or Pass Interference.

The word "unstoppable" was tossed around quite a bit by the Monday Night Football crew last night--and when the Packers offense is on the field that is nearly true.  But there is a very easy way to stop them--commit to running the football when your offense is on the field and owning the time of possession.  Despite all of his greatness, Aaron Rodgers still hasn't figured out a way to throw touchdown passes from the bench.  If only there was an NFL coach willing to play "good old-fashioned football"--instead of needing to "out-think" Mike McCarthy.

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