November 21, 2007, 4:27 pm
The Spread: Spreading to the N.F.L.?
By Pete Thamel
The daily transcripts from Bill Belichick’s news conference that the New England Patriots send out are typically some of the most interesting things that pop up in my in-box every day. Belichick is often portrayed as dry and confrontational by those who cover the N.F.L. Since I don’t, the transcripts are often some of the most insightful things I read about football. Belichick may not talk much about injuries or running up the score or whatever the P.T.I. topic da jour is, but he has an astonishing grasp of football and its history. That’s why I particularly enjoyed his take when the use of the spread offense in college football came up at his new conference today.
This was Belichick’s response when a writer asked if the spread would ever find its way to the N.F.L.:
“I don’t know. There’s times in the N.F.L. where you see just a quarterback in the backfield. There are situations like that. But I mean, you watch the Pac-10 and a lot of times you can watch a whole game and not see two backs in the backfield. It’s empty or it’s the quarterback back there with one other back and three, four, five extended receivers. I mean, I don’t follow college football that closely, but I watch it in the spring when you watch certain teams play and you’re watching players. You watch the Pac-10, you watch whatever it is out there, the Big West or whatever that conference is. Those teams are in - I don’t know if it’s five receivers, but they have four or five guys spread out over the field the entire game. That’s their goal-line offense, too.”
The follow-up question asked if running quarterbacks like Dennis Dixon or Tim Tebow could ever become prevalent in the N.F.L.
“I don’t know. We’ve seen it in Vince Young. The guy had - I don’t know how many yards he had rushing last year but it was quite a few. But I mean, I think when you look at teams like Florida and Oregon, teams like that that do that, their running game really then becomes, it’s like the single-wing. When you run the single-wing, you have an extra blocker. You don’t have a quarterback handing the ball off like you have in a T-formation, so you have a guy carrying it and there’s no wasted guy, which is really what the quarterback is. He hands it off and that’s it, whereas in the single-wing and those kinds of offenses, you pick up an extra guy that they either have to cover or you pick up an extra blocker in the play because you’re not having a quarterback hand the ball off. Really, that’s the essence of the single-wing offense. Everybody is a blocker and you have one ball-carrier. You don’t lose the T-formation quarterback.”
Thoughts? Could the spread spread to the N.F.L.?
Editor: Thoughts? Could the Single-Wing make it back to the NFL like it has in the college rank?