Sorry if this has already been posted...not being able to search beyond the first 14 items on the board makes it difficult to check.
But assuming it hasn't, there's an interesting article in today's NYT on discussions Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels had with Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen back in 2005/6 concerning the spread offense, and how to integrate it into their NFL pro-style offense.
“We never discussed anything with the run game,” said Dan Mullen, the Mississippi State head coach, who was Meyer’s offensive coordinator and who spent two days watching film with McDaniels.
Instead, McDaniels was focused on the passing elements of the spread option, particularly the empty backfield and how to create mismatches for receivers.
“They wanted to go to an all-out passing attack with Tom Brady,” Mullen said. “A lot of their interests were in the slot receivers — how do you get the Wes Welkers matched up on a linebacker? In 2007 they had a Randy Moss, who we knew if they get one-on-one we know what we could do. Once they start zone defense, if there is zone coverage, a good slot receiver will be working on linebackers. Josh was never afraid to fit the offense around the players he had.”
The tutorial took place before the Patriots had Moss or Welker, though, and Belichick, trying to stay several steps ahead of N.F.L. trends but also loath to tip his hand, played down the significance of that meeting.
“It’s not like we’re going to do a wholesale change to that system,” Belichick said late in 2005, more than six months after McDaniels and Mullen met. “Are there plays we might use? Sure.”
They used plenty of them in 2007 when the Patriots, with McDaniels calling the plays, acquired Moss and Welker and, often employing empty backfields and shotgun snaps, shattered offensive records. The Patriots overwhelmed defenses unaccustomed to the spread-out style of play for much of that season. Because of Brady’s accuracy (he completed 68.9 percent of his passes in 2007 and 65.6 percent this season), the Patriots have been able to run plays like the ones Mullen and Meyer used at Utah with Alex Smith, now the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who was also extremely accurate in college.
I'm still skeptical about a true spread-option or air raid offense working in the NFL, where QBs are precious commodities and the DEs and LBs are all big, smart and fast. But it's equally clear that elements of the spread philosophy are transforming the NFL, albeit in a more piecemeal fashion. (Right now, the Patriots' offense looks like something inbetween an Air Raid offense and Harbaugh's tight-end crazy offense at Stanford.)
However, with more and more colleges utilizing a version of the spread, and by extension producing more and more high quality players proficient in running it, isn't it just a matter of time before more plays/formations/ideas make their way into the pro-style offenses of the professionals?
Though I'm not too inclined towards the Marxism it inspired, I'm a big believer in Hegel's dialectic as a way to understand the spread (no pun intended) of ideas.
Stage 1: Thesis (pro-style)
Stage 2: Antithesis (spread)
Stage 3: Synthesis (hybrid/flexible system)
...this--as well as the offense we ran this year--appears to fall under "Stage 3," does it not?