The Packers offense is going to look quite different this season. Since 2006, Packer fans were used to seeing a traditional West Coast offense run by Mike McCarthy. Going back and studying film, it seemed like the right approach for the Packers offense.
The West Coast has a number of advantages. The idea behind it is to establish the horizontal passing game and control the clock. West coast teams want to dictate the speed of the game. We saw this under McCarthy and Holmgren both, but in this day and age of football, offenses are wanting to dictate the speed of the game in a different type of way.
The no-huddle attack isn’t some sort of new approach. Marv Levy and the Buffalo Bills could be the ones who got it all started with the “K gun” attack in the early 90s. If you go back and watch some of the games that the Bills played in, you’re definitely in for a treat. While Bill Walsh and the 49ers were on one side of the offensive philosophy, Levy and the Bills were on the far opposite.
The no-huddle attack really started to creep back into the NFL during the later part of the 2000s. I liked the approach for some teams like the Patriots and Saints. Others, I thought was only following a trend. After all, football is a trendy game. When it comes to offensive football especially, you’ll see a lot of copycat things going on among teams.
The Packers started to experiment with the no huddle, quick tempo look around 2010 and 2011. We all remember how electric the offense was then. It seems, at some point, that the offense went stagnant. Too predictable, too vanilla, too boring. Complacency started to creep in, and that’s when the offense went stale.
I’ve been thoroughly studying Matt LaFleur’s offense this offseason. If you are curious, you can even go back and read some of my Xs and Os pieces that I did over it. The Packers are in a sweet spot this offseason. Now is the time to bring change, innovation, and excitement to the offense. I tend to think that the no-huddle could be a wrinkle that LaFleur could throw in to keep offenses on their toes.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that the no-huddle should be a staple in this offense. If it works, run it more. If not, try it again later. Offensive play calling is all about rhythm in a game. Coaches can get a feel for what is working and roll with it.
Teams now more than ever are rolling with the no huddle. Personally, I would too. I think a quicker, more up-tempo offense could benefit the Packers greatly for several reasons. First, a no-huddle offense keeps the defense on their toes. For example, if the Packers come out with 11 personnel to start a drive (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WRs) they already have the personnel to get up to the line quickly on 2nd down, snap the ball and get a playoff. This is something that I don’t think offenses could do with 21 personnel, 22 personnel or even an empty look (5 WRs). You need to at least make the defense think that the threat of a running attack is there.
This also means that the defense has a limited time to make substitutions. We all know how easily Rodgers catches that 12th player on the field, jogging off the field late while trying to substitute. If the right personnel is in the game, the threat of going no-huddle is always there. This is very beneficial especially if the defense had their base personnel on the field to start the drive. The no-huddle exploits mismatches and puts the offense in the driver’s seat.
Secondly, the thing that is appealing to me about the no-huddle is the simplicity. If you’ve ever heard some play calls in the huddle, especially in a west coast system, you’d know that they can be lengthy. Here’s an example:
“Scatter to west right tight, F left, 372, Y stick, Z spot“.
Usually, a play call has to be repeated in the huddle after it is initially called. Again, I’m not opposed to the way the West coast offense is operated. Sometimes though, it can be a little exhaustive. Just because these players play at the highest level doesn’t mean that everything has to be complicated. The way that a play is called in the huddle usually tells each player what to do. In the above example, you can pretty much gather that the Y is running a stick route, the Z runs a spot, the fullback is aligned to the left, and the formation is west right tight. In a no-huddle, the quarterback can simply call a random number, and that’s the play.
The New England Patriots experimented with that exact concept a few years ago. One word plays. It tells the entire offense what to do and allows them to get more snaps in a game.
While the no-huddle isn’t the base philosophy of an NFL offense, as it shouldn’t be, it can be a good thing to go to from time to time. I think the biggest thing for Matt LaFleur is simply finding out what the offense does well and focusing on ways to do it. Once he knows the strengths of the offense, then something like the no-huddle can be incorporated.
Make sure to follow me on Twitter at @PTTF_Ben and Go Pack Go!