So it seems the QB & OL will be the biggest weakness of the team this year. In addition, it seems that Usain Bolt is fast (topical!) and Charlie Weis is a super genius. Ok, I’ll stop there. Anyway, lack of depth, talent, experience and fit to the system are all contributing to the low expectations of these position groups this year. Now, I’d love to talk about the OL. It’s the biggest part of the offense and thus probably more crucial to the success of the team than even the QB. However, I’m going to ignore the OL basically for 2 reasons: 1) I don’t enjoy feeling like this little guy, and 2) I don’t think there’s anything that can be done to mitigate the situation. But what about the QB issue? When you have minimal talent and experience at the QB position, can one reduce the impact of the QB on an offense?
I want to find out and hopefully there will be some insightful comments* that can add to the discussion. I don’t have a ton of time to research the topic, so my research outline consisted of:
IF (Google == helpful) THEN
Now, Google wasn’t that helpful, but I did come across one article from several years ago about the 1999 Bucaneers. The key quote for me was the following:
“The Bucs like to minimize the position to the point that their quarterback has no more impact than a receiver does for most teams. On most plays, he's a bystander.”
This may be overstating the situation a bit, but I can not image RR saying to the staff at a meeting, “Goll-ly fellers, I know we have some perrrty speedy RBs and some dang good WRs, but we autta have Nick Sheridan be the playmaker fur dis here team.” It’s logical to assume that the staff would want to mitigate what seems to be the weakest part of the team, isn’t it? So what did the ’99 Bucs do?
Short passes to the RBs:
“A dozen of his passes were thrown at running backs.”
Run a heck of a lot more than they pass:
“On first down, the Bucs have rum 61 percent of the lime [sic].”
Not a lot of down field passing:
“A whopping 66 percent of their pass attempts this season have been for 10 yards or fewer, and only 12 percent have been for more than 20 yards.”
This seems to reinforce the idea that the offense will not be what we have become accustomed to under LC. Decisions will be easy ones for the QB. Passes will be short and designed to allow the RBs and WRs to make plays. First and second downs will be run heavy to make sure the QB isn’t pit into 3rd & ten situations.
Now, some of this may sound similar to what Michigan did with young QBs and that’s because it is. But recall, the offense and young QBs LC had are not the same RR has. I don’t expect short crossing patters that take 8 seconds to develop, nor do I expect 5 yard out patters that require a howitzer to complete. More bubble screens that are easy for the QB to read. Of course, the spread-option is an easy read. The bottom line? Expect a ton of carries for the RBs and the fewest passing attempts by a Michigan QB since Elvis Grbac gave us The Catch.
*insightful comments are defined as the opposite of this: "The O-line is no reason to freak out. They will gel."