Power Spread has arrived in the NFL

Posted: January 9, 2012 in All Things Power Spread

It may only be the baby stages, as the coaches at Denver are still figuring out this offense that Tim Tebow played in at Florida U, but the PS is officially in full bloom in the NFL. Before the game, Dick LaBeau, claimed to have knowledge on how to beat this “option” offense. Most fans and possibly even Denver’s own coaches also think of this as an option, wishone, or even some sort of Single Wing offense. But these comments in and of themselves shows the limited awareness of the concept of the PS. Its actually quite simple and the basis of Football from the the beginning days – GO WHERE THEY AINT!

The name itself combines the power of the game with using every dimension of the playing arena. In other words, Wide/Middle/Short/Long, Ground + Air – all elements of the 3 dimensional playing field are utilized with or without a running QB, with or without option. There’s many ways to do it, but the principle is POWER and SPREAD – use EVERYTHING and GO WHERE THEY AINT. Its so simple that it should work even with NFL free agency, because new players can easily pick up the schemes. And with the time and skills of the Professional coaches and players, these schemes could reach higher heights than we have even seen in college. Especially if the NFL starts to experiment more with TIME – the play clock.

LaBeau is a known expert DC and his famous aggression usually pays dividends but in this game it put his players in compromised positions more than once.  He continuously run blitzed and staked the middle and sometimes middle AND short.  The Wide and Deep parts of the field were there for the taking and in the 2nd Qtr the Broncos did exactly that.  They got conservative in the 2nd Half and Pittsburgh’s superior talent and good passing schemes of OC, Bruce Arians, brought them back as they were able to drive the field and eat the clock – keeping Tebow and company on the sideline.  Then their clutch QB, Big Ben drove them for the time score.  This is all very old school – but effective with good coaches and players.  Unfortunately for the Steelers, the PS is not so dependent on execution and talent.  Yes Tebow is talented, but in reality the Broncos really didnt match up against the Steelers without a wild card.

The play in Overtime really symbolized the problem with LaBeau’s thinking of this offense as an Option offense. Again he stacked the middle, run blitzed a LB and even shot in a Safety, leaving only 3 DBs in coverage. Denver faked the read option out of a conservative 2 WR set, keeping everyone in to block. 3 vs 3 in the passing game in the NFL is very difficult to stop if the Offense has time to throw and the Defense doesnt have 3 All Pro DBs. Because of the play action and the extra blockers Tebow had time and one WR got open and after a stiff arm went 80 yards for the winning TD. If this was the Wishbone, Labeau had the right Defense – but it wasnt. Option is an optional (no pun intended) part of the PS. But what isnt optional is the idea of completely spreading the field, mixing the ground and air game, and going where they aint, either with the use of mis-direction and option reads , or not. Denver is only at a baby level, but it was good enough to beat the top organization in the NFL in the last 40 years.

Interestingly enough, the man who brought Tebow and the PS to the NFL, Josh McDaniel, is now back on the New England Staff – Denver’s next playoff opponent. Belichick’s visits to Tebow’s former coach, Urban Meyer, back in 2006 is what gave McDaniel the idea to use this offense in the NFL. Dont be surprised to see some PS at New England in the future as again you dont need a running QB to make it go. Mobility is an advantage, but there’s other ways to spread the field to run and pass. And dont be surprised to see further advances in the idea of using the whole field and play clock next year at Ohio State under Urban Meyer and OC Tom Herman.

-Drew

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