On offense, I fear I've been closed minded...
I suppose, being a conservative guy, that this has carried over to my football ideology. Run the ball, convert 3rd down, throw the ball effectively, win 17-13 and everyone is happy. I like big, physical wide receivers, a running back committee consisting of a balanced “every down” guy, a scat back that with good hands, and a physical pounder to get the tough yards. I like massive, physical offensive linemen that will, in the 4th quarter, physically dominate a tired, demoralized defense.
However, after watching the first 2 weeks of this season I don’t know if my “dream team”, in today’s game, is really possible. Oh sure, the Ravens and the Vikings have made it work for them. In fact, up until last year it had worked in Jacksonville. But I fear that these teams are on the verge of being antiquated in today’s basketball on grass. Don’t get me wrong; these teams, like past-Jacksonville teams, will be the teams everyone hates to play. They’re hard hitting, physical teams, but in the end they’ll fall short of the ultimate goal of the Super Bowl.
Jerry Jones slithered in to an interview the opening night of his monstrosity of a stadium. NBC asked Jerry about the collective bargaining agreement and revenue sharing. Jerry never came out and said it, but he intimated his super stadium was the future; teams will either have to drive up revenues to “survive” or perish. They asked Jones about football in danger of becoming baseball (i.e. high revenues succeed where low revenues fail), and Jones simply stated the owners should be concerned with maximizing revenues for themselves and players, and the players would then only have to worry about playing.
Kids, the days of revenue sharing, I fear, are coming to an end. The Jacksonville’s and Buffalo’s of the NFL: get ready. To channel Vic for a moment, "Small market teams may have to get very, very creative with personnel."
The more I watch, the more I’m convinced that the future of NFL offenses is (gag me) the spread (or “Wildcat”, whatever you want to call it). By Wildcat though, I mean an Alex Smith, Tim Tebow, Tyler Thigpen,…(takes a shot of whiskey) or even Vince Young. Just not a running back playing Quarterback.
I fought the concept, I deplore the thought, but a “Tim Tebow” might just have to be the future of Jacksonville. WHAT? He can’t make all the throws, questionable accuracy at times, etc… But we’re projecting him into a pro offense. When I say “Tebow” I mean a quarterback that will willingly take off down-field if they don’t see the open receiver, someone with smarts, and someone that is a leader. A quarterback that works within the system and takes what the defense gives them. Is that specifically Tebow? No, there are other guys that can do that. But I have a feeling we will see a young quarterback on the roster next year with college experience in the spread whether it’s Tebow or someone else.
The fullback is a dying position. The H-Back is an up and coming position. Run blocking for these guys is not a priority; catching passes is. Today when a team gets to the 2 yard line how often do we see them spread teams out? How many times have we seen those quick WR screens only to have the cornerback miss what used to be a sure tackle in the open field? How many times do we see guys in space turn a 5 yard gain into a 20 yard gain? The spread would be a way to get more of those opportunities.
The Jags already have a few of the pieces in place for this possible future (2 pass blocking tackles – performance issues aside, quick fleet-footed receivers – Mike Thomas we think, and a great pass catching fleet footed power back – MJD).
I see bubble screens, quick outs, slants, draws, reverses, and direct snaps to the back. I see the “wildcat” spread, only instead of a back or receiver it will be a scrambling quarterback. I see Percy Harvin’s and Jeremy Maclin’s becoming every bit as valuable as a solid running-back. I see hybrid Felix Jones’ playing a wide receiver/running-back role (ie Percy Harvin at Florida). I see this becoming a game of speed and agility rather than power.
In reading comments on why people weren’t going to the game people complained of games being “boring”. I find the Jaguars’ 9-0 win over the Steelers on Monday night back in the day exciting, but apparently the mainstream fans want points, big plays, and 35-34 games, not 9-0 “yawn fests”. The spread, when done right, will put points on the board.
It may take some time and growing pains, but in the next few years passing records will begin to fall. The football field is 100 yards x 53 yards (approximately), and these teams will use every inch of it to remain competitive.
Further Affiant Sayeth Naught...