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GumboBC 05-09-2004 09:22 PM

McCarthy's Spread Offense
Hopefully Mike McCarthy has finally figured out the fastest way from point A to point B is through the air. Because of Deuce, we are faced with a lot of eight-man fronts -- defenses designed to stop the run – and it’s one of the handful of reasons why we need to pass more frequently out of a spread formation. In recent years, teams have brought their safeties down into the box to be the eighth man and make it tougher to run.

To prevent this, McCarthy needs to spread teams out with three- and four-receiver sets. In addition, using the no-huddle offense would keep defenses' base personnel on the field.

That creates mismatches, speedy receivers on safeties. Most safeties are good at playing the run, but are so-so in coverage against teams that have 3 or 4 very fast receivers. This was one of the reasons the Mike Martz spread offense was so effective.

To further complicate the situation, a linebacker is usually left one-on-one with a receiver. Unless a team has linebackers with speed, this is a tremendous advantage for a spread offense.

When a team spreads their offense out, which I think is the way to attack, that limits what defensive coordinator can do. Defenses not only have to be concerned about stopping the pass, because we can also run Deuce off the spread offense.

Ground control was once an NFL tradition. It was run to win, throw to score, with the idea being to grind out long drives to control the ball and score by taking time off the clock.

That's good in theory, but with the power and quickness of the linemen and linebackers on defense it has become almost impossible to sustain long drives. Coaches like Bill Billichick have figured out that you win games by passing the ball and using the run to keep defenses honest.

The speed up front has really made it tough. Running teams can sometimes wind up in situations they can't overcome. If a team gets 6 yards on first down, then a holding penalty on second, they can be faced with second-and-14 and you're going to fail at that more times than not.

Aside from the eight-man fronts, there are other reasons why teams have gone to spread offenses and way from the grind-it-out running style. The reasons are:

1. The lack of quality cornerbacks.
2. The rules that prevent defensive backs from making any contact after 5 yards.
3. The size and speed of the front seven on most defenses.

Most teams have one shutdown corner (it they’re lucky), a guy who can play man coverage and not be considered a weakness. There are a few that have two, such as Miami, Philadelphia and Washington, but those teams have a real luxury.
Finding three and four quality cover players is next to impossible.

That's why getting those players on the field by spreading defenses out helps create matchup problems. If teams stay in their base defenses -- which most don't -- then there are even more problems if teams go to the spread. That's where safeties and linebackers can get caught in coverage.

It's picking your poison: a slow safety on a receiver or a dime back who might not be very good.

The rules for a defense also favor the passing game. I think that the rules dictate that making throws down the field is worth the risk. Pass interference is the most damaging penalty in the game, one that's makes corners play very cautiously, often resulting in long gains.

A slight bump can lead to a 45-yard gain and set up a potential touchdown. Any bumping called in the end zone puts the ball on the 1. Taking shots down the field is well worth the risk.

The officials also seem to allow more holding on the line, which also helps the pass game. Without a rush, a quarterback can be deadly.

The word is, McCarthy is going to play more out of the spread offense this year. That should really be fun to watch with all the speed we have at the skilled positions!!

SaintNik 05-09-2004 11:26 PM

McCarthy's Spread Offense
There are still many situations when a traditional pro I formation consisting of 2 wr, 1 te, 1 fb, 1 tb is still favored throughout the league. Down and distance and protection concerns dictate this. Some examples would be 3rd and long from your own 5 yard line, any down and goal inside the opponents 1, 3rd or 4th and inches anywhere on the field. With that said, I totally agree that almost all other situations favor the spread offense provided you have the speed to create fear and respect from the opponent.

I think the Saints now have the speed and talent at the skill positions to create mismatches that will allow for the quick strike dink and dunk, the deep patterns, and running opportunities for Deuce.

Five offensive linemen are required on every offensive allignment. A qb is not but is favored. That leaves 5 other players that can be used in various formations provided you line at least one up on the line on each side of the formation. That leaves 3 players that can be lined up off the line at any location you choose. One of these 3 can be in motion prior to the snap. Ok, enough football 101. Let\'s talk about what personnel groups we have that could be used at the variable 5 positions and how they could be spread out.

Horn, Stallworth, Henderson, Conwell or Williams, McAllister - The three receivers can be lined up tight or wide, grouped together or apart. The key to this group is Conwell/Williams. They can be lined up off the ball as a tight end, moved out wide, sent back across the formation in motion, used as a H-back, or lined up as fullback, or can be the blocking back to protect the qb or go out for a pass. Deuce could remain in the deep I and run the ball, stay in and pass protect, go in motion, line up in the slot or out wide as a receiver.

Horn, Stallworth, Conwell, Williams, McAllister - Most of the above can be done but also this would allow bigger bodies moved out wide with Williams and also would allow them to shift back into a more traditional running set with 2 TEs or Williams as a TE and Conwell as the blocking back.

Horn, Stallworth, Henderson, Lewis, Mcallister - Speed is the theme here. Can stretch the defense downfield and drag one of the receivers underneath. Can run Deuce, leave him in to pass protect, line him up as a receiver, or send him in motion and out in the pattern.

One of the wideouts, Conwell, Williams, Hilton, Mcallister - Can spread Hilton and Williams out wide near goal line. Create size mismatches or run the ball.

These are a few possibilities I would like to see. Any others you guys would like to see?

GumboBC 05-09-2004 11:34 PM

McCarthy's Spread Offense
That was an excellent post SaintNik. I think you pretty well covered the posibilities for our offense. Our offensive line-up is so versatile, we can really make defenses pick thier poision.

I really hope Devery Henderson wins the 3rd spot. Horn, Stallowoth, Henderson would be a deadly combination. Along with Boo, and I don\'t know of too many secondaries that can match with that.

That was an informative and well thoughout post. Maybe we can get LummOx to throw his 2-cents in on this one? Where ya at LummOx???

SaintNik 05-09-2004 11:37 PM

McCarthy's Spread Offense
Gator, Billy may have a link to support McCarthy using the spread offense more this year. I don\'t. However, McCarthy was quoted a few months ago stating that they would attack with the pass downfield this year more often in similar style as they did in 2000, 2001.

lumm0x 05-10-2004 12:09 AM

McCarthy's Spread Offense
Lurking in the corner.

I gotta completely agree that this set up should be the staple of our offense. Like SaintNik mentioned, we will be deep and formidable at TE as well, and this position must be utilized. I would love to see alot of 3-4 WR spreads and bunches with rushes still attempted on a regular basis within this formation, however, this will require our WR\'s to be much more involved blockers. Not a great strength of any of them. I also like close 2 TE sets with play-action or all out routes out of them more than running the ball. I think our TE\'s win most battles on average against a LB or Safety. It would be my dream to not actually know what play we will run as we line up. If I can guess correctly 65% of the time I\'m sure a DC is doing it better than that. Nothing pleases me more when we line up for a down and I\'m shocked by the play call.

GumboBC 05-10-2004 12:23 AM

McCarthy's Spread Offense

I would love to see alot of 3-4 WR spreads and bunches with rushes still attempted on a regular basis within this formation, however, this will require our WR\'s to be much more involved blockers. Not a great strength of any of them.
I really haven\'t thought about that. But, I see your point. Maybe Jimmy Robinson, the new receivers coach, can make them better blockers.


It would be my dream to not actually know what play we will run as we line up. If I can guess correctly 65% of the time I\'m sure a DC is doing it better than that. Nothing pleases me more when we line up for a down and I\'m shocked by the play call.
Somewhere along the line, McCarthy did get very predictable. Obviously McCarthy knows much more about football than I do, but I think it was pretty predictable what the plays were going to be. It just looked like a totally different offense that what we had run the last couple of years. It also wan\'t nearly as effective.

I have no link to McCarthy saying we were going to run more out of the spread offense. I heard him say it on \"SportsWrap\", which I provided a link for on another thread. Good show, if ya\'ll have a chance, check it out....

WhoDat 05-10-2004 09:20 AM

McCarthy's Spread Offense
Billy - we agree on this one, although I don\'t think we should throw more frequently. Our run/pass mix is fine, we simply need to spread the field more and stop telegraphing our playcall with repetitive and predictable calls and formations.

Of course, this is nothing new. A lot of us were complaining about this early LAST season. Who knows? McCarthy\'s hands could have been tied. With injuries to receivers and TEs, our ability to spread the field effectively may have been limited. McCarthy might have felt it was a better bet to stick with our bread and butter - Deuce.

The thing I want to see this year is not only a spread field, but motion. I wouldn\'t mind seeing formations that start with Horn and Stallworth split wide, Boo in tight, and Stecker and Deuce in the backfield (the traditional \"pro set\") that they motion out of pre-snap by standing Boo up and splitting him and stecker out to a 4 WR set.

Of course, this is going to require a lot of intelligence and good reading out of Brooks - which is scary. If they motion from a standard or big formation out to a spread one, Brooks has to see what the defense does. If the defense has their big people in, he has to find the most uneven matchup (Boo on a LB, Stallworth on a safety, etc.) and exploit it. If the D is playing in a nickel package, audible to a sprint off tackle or find some way to get Deuce on the corner versus smaller DBs.

In any case, we\'ll see what McCarthy does. With all the weapons he has at his disposal, it better be something good!

GumboBC 05-10-2004 11:48 AM

McCarthy's Spread Offense
WhoDat --

I agree that our run/pass ratio is fine. I didn\'t say that we need to \"pass more frequently\", I said we need pass more frequently \"out of the spread offense.\" I think we both agree on that, as well as some other members.

I have to admit, you bring up a valid point about Brooks. I don\'t think Brooks\' strog suit is getting rid of the ball quick. Which is what Kurt Warner was great at doing during the Ram\'s glory days.

But, Brooks ability to buy time, which Warner couldn\'t do, adds an extra dimension to the spread offense. One of the reasons a spread offense is so dangerous is because it creates favorible match-ups. Brooks ability to scramble and buy time, makes those slow linebackers and safeties have to cover our speed receivers longer, which can be just as deadly. It\'s certainly is one of Brooks strengths that overcomes some of his weaknesses.

coastalkid 05-10-2004 12:55 PM

McCarthy's Spread Offense
This comment may be getting away from the original subject of this post but Billy brought up something that has been on my mind for a while and it pertains to Brooks ability to scramble.
In Aaron\'s first year or so with the Saints if he couldn\'t find an open receiver or \"buy\" sometime and wait for one to get open he would TUCK the ball and run for a first down. What happened to that running QB that we all fell in love with? What has happened to make him seem almost unwilling to run now? He seems more willing to force a throw rather than run for a first and 10? I\'m not saying I want him to run, run , run but I\'d like to see him pull the ball down and run when the opportunity is there.

WhoDat 05-10-2004 02:08 PM

McCarthy's Spread Offense
At this point, I don\'t think AB is any real threat to run. Even early on in his career here I thought he looked kind of like Gumby out there. He\'s tall, lanky, with a high center of gravity, rubbery legs, long strides, and very slow footspeed. He did make some nice runs, however I thought his ability to really scramble was a bit inflated.

He did do a great job of escaping the rush and finding a receiver down field. That\'s something that I think he is actually worse at now then he was before. Maybe he thinks too much, I don\'t know, but ever since the coaches decided to make him a pocket passer his ability to scramble has declined sharply.

I mean, consider: He rarely runs and when he does he\'s either slow in making the decision to tuck the ball or he\'s just slow in general and gets run down usually within five to eight yards of the line (generously). When he tries to scramble, he usually moves backwards (we all know what that leads to), or sprints out towards the sideline and boxes himself in along the sideline. Finally, when in trouble, he tends to lock on to one receiver (1 guess who I\'m talking about), and force the ball into that guy.

I think AB has gotten much better in his ability to make smarter decisions. He is more efficient and makes fewer costly turnovers (through the air at least - fumbling is a completely different story). He still seems to lack the ability to read pre-snap, and I think his escapability and threat as a runner have both declined sharply. That\'s just my opinion, but...

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