Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Analyzing Michigan's 2018 Passing Attack

Submitted by Ron Utah on November 28th, 2018 at 1:08 PM

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Losing to your archrival sucks.  Getting blown out by them in a year when you were favored to win in their stadium?  That causes some fans to lose their shit.  Unfortunately, with their shit often goes their perspective, and heated debates about WHAT WENT WRONG?!?!?!?!! ensue.

But did something go wrong?  Didn't we get annihilated by OSU?  What needs to be better for Michigan to get from "Top-10" to Juggernaut?

While Don Brown's defense absolutely failed against OSU, there is an element of this team that has had more pervasive issues and seems to be preventing Michigan from joining the truly elite class of CFB programs: the passing offense.  

While Michigan's offense made dramatic improvements in 2018--and that is a fact--it lacks the pop of the nation's best.  What is missing?  What needs to be tweaked, changed, or eliminated?  Why didn't Michigan's offense achieve its potential in 2018?  TL; DR:

  • Both traditional and fancystats demonstrate improvement in all aspects of the offense, including the passing game
  • Fancystats have some weaknesses, and situational as well as individual statistics help explain some of those deficiencies
  • One of the biggest problems with the passing attack is one of the easiest to fix: lack of use (and quickness of use)
  • It seems the staff is aware of at least some of this and attempting to evolve, but either stubbornness or pure habit is holding that progress back a bit
  • Michigan could vastly benefit from adding a creative passing game mind to its staff
  • It's completely reasonable to recognize that the offense was NOT the core problem against OSU and still recognize that it needs adjustment to help Michigan reach elite status

Let's start with the good news--and there is lots of it.  On its face, the 2018 passing offense (and offense in general) took a moon-sized leap from the 2017 version.  Consider:

  • Michigan's offense finished the 2018 regular season as the #24 S&P+ unit in the country, including the #32 rushing and #10 (!!!) passing ranking
  • Shea Patterson's passer rating of 154.28 is the best for a Michigan QB in over a decade and is a whopping 43.96 points better than last year's combined QB rating.  To put that in perspective, Shea's rating is good for 21st in the country and last year's rating is far outside the top 100 passers of 2018.
  • The TD to INT ratio improved from 9:10 in 2017 to 23:7 in 2018.

In short, the passing game is clearly a vast improvement over 2017.  So why does the #10 S&P+ passing offense need examination?  Because fancystats don't tell the whole story.

For one thing, Michigan's offense ranked 49th in passing down efficiency.  So, when opponents knew Michigan was going to pass, the offense was middling at best.  Furthermore, the passing offense had significant deficiencies in other situations:

  • 1st Quarter passer rating of 126.98
  • 3rd Down passer rating of 130.39
  • 3rd Down and 10+ rating of 80.84
  • Field Position: Own 1 to 20 Yd Ln rating of 118.15; Own 21 to 38 Yd Ln rating of 122.67
  • Red Zone completion percentage of 51.2%

These situational statistics tell a story: early in games and early in drives, the passing attack is not nearly as effective as its average.  Obvious passing situations aren't very good to Michigan.  And the red zone is essentially a 50/50 area for completions.

By contrast, 'Bama's 1st and 2nd quarter passer rating are higher than their average (which is a ridiculous 208.53).  Their 3rd down rating--which you would expect to be lower than their average since defenses are playing pass--is just six points (3.1%) lower than their average, vs. Michigan's difference of 23 points and 15.2% less efficiency.  Clemson's passer rating on 3rd down beats their average (which is less than a point better than Michigan's, FWIW) and OSU's is only fractionally worse.

Elite passing offenses don't have a hard time moving the ball on 3rd down.  Michigan's #10 S&P+ rating is masked by excellent 1st down efficiency, as well as being far more effective after the 1st quarter and further down the field.  The problem with this is that if Michigan is going to be a juggernaut, it needs to start faster and have a passing attack that can succeed when it's most needed (early in drives and on third down).  The 2018 version falls far short of elite in these critical areas. 

But wait, there's more...

Michigan's WR talent is on par with the best teams in the country.  The 2017 recruiting class included four top-200 overall recruits at the WR position, including the #12 overall player, and all four WRs were among the top 30 at their position.  Here are their individual stats from 2018:

  • Donovan Peoples-Jones - 39 REC / 541 YDS / 13.87 AVG / 7 TDS
  • Nico Collins - 33 / 552 / 16.73 / 6
  • Oliver Martin - 11 / 125 / 11.36 / 1
  • Tarik Black (injured) - 2 / 20 / 10 / 0

None of those stat lines are bad.  Black's performance should probably be ignored after yet another foot fracture kept him out most of the season (but there's good reason to include him in this overall conversation).  For the second straight season, no Michigan player caught 40 passes or broke 600 yards.  'Bama's Jerry Jeudy--ranked #21 overall in DPJ's class and the #3 WR--has 56 catches for 1,079 yds (19.27 avg) and 11 TDs.  Three other players have over 600 yds (including a TE) and their top five pass-catchers average over 17.3 yds/catch.  Clemson has three WRs with over 40 catches and two with over 600 yards, OSU has three players with more yards than our best WR's numbers and a predictably absurd pair of players with at least 64 catches.

All year long, Nico Collins has caught deep, contested passes thrown his way.  DPJ had single coverage more than just that one time vs. MSU.  Tarik Black has proven talent with deep ball and contested catches.  Heck, Dylan McCaffrey came into a game and immediately tossed a couple of arm punts to Ronnie Bell for big gains and a TD.

This leads to one of the glaring problems: usage.  Michigan's inflated S&P+ rating reflects the passing offense's effectiveness when a pass was simply unexpected.  And who could blame opponents for not expecting a pass when Michigan ran the ball on 519 of its 829 plays?  Almost two-thirds (62.6%) of our plays were hand-offs this season.  Again, contrast that with Alabama running 57.7% of the time, despite being in blowout win mode more often.  In fact, 'Bama averaged just 30:13 of possession because they were scoring so fast.   Michigan averaged almost 35 minutes of possession each game.  We just didn't throw the ball much.

One of the reasons offered for this is QB health.  But the rest of college football has figured out how to keep running QBs as healthy as Michigan's passers and still take deep shots: arm punts.  It's completely false that a deep pass play requires great protection in college football.  Trace McSorely has made a living with a far weaker arm than Shea Patterson by throwing the deep ball quickly.  And if you have tall, athletic pass-catchers (and we have a shit ton of those) than even if the play is well-covered you have a good chance at a completion and a good chance at getting a pass interference call on an incompletion.  For years, Michigan fans (myself included) mocked the arm punts thrown by B1G QBs and ignored a ruthless truth: they work pretty damn well in college football.  Michigan State's entire passing offense is centered around their guys making contested catches on back-shoulder deep routes, and their QB is often throwing the ball before the WR turns to look.

Michigan needs to embrace this aspect of college football and design plays that use deep passes that get out of the QB's hands more quickly.  Collins, DPJ, and Black are ideally-suited to this type of play.  So is Gentry, for that matter.

But, given that Michigan won 10 games and housed some quality opponents, why does this matter?  Isn't improving the offense by 61 spots in S&P+ enough?

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The answer was in the OSU game.  Harbaugh plays to win.  If he can beat you by just running the ball, why risk the pass?  Why subject your QB to hits or put plays on tape you may need to win games down the road?  Because if you don't run your offense at peak efficiency all of the time, it won't be ready to operate at peak efficiency when you need it.  OSU prepares for Michigan everyday, and it's pretty clear at this point that comes at the expense of preparing for lesser opponents.  Their base play is one of the best possible plays to run against Michigan's base defense.  Michigan needs to start thinking the same way: how can we build a machine that can beat the elite competition in college football?  Yes, that means passing more against Rutgers, WMU, SMU, Maryland, etc.  It means refining a gameplan that can beat our archrival needs to start long before Hate Week commences.  Because body shots just won't be good enough against an opponent that can throw a haymaker on every play.

What's most interesting about all of this is that Michigan seems to be at least faintly aware.  The 2018 class had just three blocky-catchy types after zero in 2017.  The 2018 class also added Michael Barrett and Ronnie Bell--two players whose build don't match the traditional prototype of Michigan's WR recruits, and that trend has become even more pronounced this cycle: Giles Jackson, Mike Sainristil, and George Johnson III are all under six feet tall and expected to contribute as slot/weapon types on offense.  Actions speak louder than words, and Michigan is using valuable scholarships on the types of players that haven't been considered part of the plan since Rich Rod left.  That speaks to a continued evolution on offense.

And yet...we ran more often this year than we have since 2011, when we had one of the best running QBs in CFB history on our team.  It feels like the staff knows it needs to advance, but just can't quite keep themselves from the old-style of lining up and out-executing their opponent.

Stuck in outdated habits and stubborn adherence to failing principles, it's time to seek professional help.  A bright, creative passing mind from an Oklahoma, Clemson, or even second-tier schools like WaSU, WVA--hell, even Purdue.  The NFL has great models as well: Kansas City, the Rams, New Orleans, and even Tampa Bay.  We don't necessarily need a new OC, but we need a passing game coordinator with the creativity and proclivity to increase our passing output.

Michigan's passing offense was ranked #10 in S&P+ this year.  It has an embarrassment of riches at WR, TE, and even RB and QB.  Yet it posted just 2,555 yards this season, good for the #84 passing offense in yards/game and 11 spots below Michigan State.  We can't expect our offense to reach peak efficiency if we keep the best part of it locked in the garage most of the season, hoping it will be ready when are forced to use it.  Our rushing S&P+ ranking was 32.  Our explosiveness (ISOPPP+) was 57.  And, as discussed, our passing down ranking was 49.  Those numbers won't improve without a commitment to a more frequent, creative, and modern deployment of a college football passing attack.

It's a gross exaggeration to blame our two losses this year on our passing game.  But it's just as clear that we won't reach elite status if we don't improve that component of our offense.  It's time to take another step forward as a program, and the passing offense should be the top priority.

Comments

andidklein

November 28th, 2018 at 4:21 PM ^

If Shea comes back next year, look out. Harbaugh will finally have a competent QB in his second year of running the offense. I think with the knowledge Shea now has of the offense and hopefully Harbaugh trusting Patterson, we should see a marked increase in passing next year. I would like to think that you won’t even be able to recognize the offense next year from this year. 

smwilliams

November 28th, 2018 at 4:42 PM ^

I think this is a fair, accurate assessment of some of the issues, but I would like to give credit to Harbaugh and the staff for figuring out what works best for Shea Patterson and tailoring the offense to that.

I mean, they ran a ton of plays out of the pistol and shotgun when for the past three years, they've been a primarily under center team. So many coaches refuse to adapt THEIR system for the individual talent, but I'm optimistic because JH and crew have shown a willingness to change things up to better fit their personnel.

Merlin.64

November 28th, 2018 at 4:44 PM ^

Thoughtful and perceptive analysis. Thanks, Ron. The subsequent discussion offers further insights, a welcome change from the abuse hurled at team and coaches in so many threads. It was a bad loss, which hurt all the more because our expectations were at least cautiously high, but surely the best response is to regroup and learn from the experience? 

And the first step in the process is this kind of analysis which offers constructive suggestions. Doubtless more will come when Defense is analysed.

I do, however, remain optimistic that coaches and team will respond well to the challenge. Despite the critics, their record has earned our support. They delivered convincing victories against teams to which they lost last year, and 10-2 is a better record than many expected. OSU is a tougher nut to crack (so to speak), but they will get there.

Soon, I hope for the mental state of their more passionate supporters. (Would 11-2 help?)

Go Blue!

YaterSalad

November 28th, 2018 at 5:02 PM ^

This was an absolutely excellent analysis of our team.  It does seem like Harbaugh understands this deficiency and is going about to correct it.  I am hoping for, with a healthy Shea, the Death Star to be fully operational next year.  We want MORE passing.  I think the schedule sets up well with the home slate, we get back plenty of talent, the defense holds strong, and we improve the passing game. I think we are in for a great 2019.  My hawt take. 

MGoStrength

November 28th, 2018 at 6:58 PM ^

As far as QB health goes, assuming Patterson returns, this will be the first time in a while we will have multiple proven backups with experience, so there's no need to fret over Patterson getting banged up.

Harbitrage

November 28th, 2018 at 8:38 PM ^

First - great post OP! Actually motivated me to create an account on the blog (finally)

Two thoughts and they aren’t fully related

1. Do we think conservatism in the passing game is influenced to some extent by Don Brown’s views on defense? Namely that college level talent completing big passes is a low percentage type event - and can thus be largely negated by man to man coverage. Similar thought process to the NBA fg% stats discouraging the midrange jump shot as a high risk, low reward play. (Not that I agree with this thought process and not a neg on DB either just a staff ideology perhaps)

 

2. Rather than the Andy Reid high octane type offense, is a better model to emulate the Patriots passing attack? Lots of short passing using the RBs or WRs as pressure relief valves, strong use of TE and calculated shots deep. Use a lot of rub/picks to get guys open, motion to identify coverage, WR screens/slants/curls - just stuff that’s fast and hard to defend against body position.  (I know Shea does not have Tom’s accuracy or canon but these are high percentage completions and conversions - so shouldn’t be too outside JH’s coaching comfort zones)

Just a thought...

 

Ron Utah

November 29th, 2018 at 2:01 PM ^

Welcome the board!

  1. No, I don't think so.  I think Harbaugh feels like he'd just rather not take the risk of deep passes if he can win with his running game.  Which, again, is fine against most teams on our schedule.  But we need more to be and compete with elite teams.
  2. I mentioned the Patriots in the diary.  I'm not married to one system.  The Chiefs are incredibly fun to watch and run a spread offense that is an undeniable relative of college football, so I gravitate towards that.  But the Rams, Saints, and Patriots all run offenses that have passing concepts worth stealing.

Installing passing components--like we had some of with Jedd Fisch--where you get a big play or two per game simply from superior design would help this offense quite a bit, IMO.  That said, toss-ups to Collins, Black, and Gentry would be great as well as fades to DPJ.  It doesn't have to be complicated.

AlbanyBlue

November 28th, 2018 at 8:59 PM ^

This is the best description of Michigan's offensive problems -- and perhaps of Ohio State's mindset -- that I've read on the site this year. Concise and to the point. Great read for sure.

Hail to the Vi…

November 28th, 2018 at 9:45 PM ^

AMEN! Well said Ron Utah. You articulated my thoughts on this topic better than I did on my attempts. A refresh and modernizing of passing concepts and route combinations I think would significantly raise the level of potency of this offense.

Perhaps as equally important is changing up the play calling cadence of the offense. I thought I read somewhere 8 of Michigan's 10 drives on Saturday started with a run on first down. You can do that against Rutgers and Maryland, but going up against equal or greater talent; run-run-pass ain't gonna cut it.

I agree an innovative passing mind of today's game would be an excellent add to the staff. Also understanding it's not always what you call, but when you call it.

I am not part of the FiRe PeP crowd, but I do think since his arrival, our passing offense has been built off of outdated NFL passing concepts. If he can bring some new and innovative passing concepts to the offense, great. If not, I would be in favor of moving on.

mgoblue98

November 28th, 2018 at 10:34 PM ^

Well done so far as I have read, but I will disagree with one point regarding QB health.  While other teams may have figured out how to keep running QB's healthy, Michigan has not been able to get to the Ohio State game with a healthy QB more than a few times in the last 15 years.  This year Shea was healthy and it did seem like there was an effort to make sure that he was during the season.

Running the ball 5/8ths of the time is really out of balance. 

Carcajou

November 28th, 2018 at 11:58 PM ^

In our emotions, I think we overreacted to the Ohio State game. Ohio State clearly played their best game of the season, Michigan played one of its worst. It was about a half a dozen plays or so on each side of the ball that made the difference in this game. {Man are the Buckeyes good at getting away with pick routes, especially in the red zone!}

Ohio State is fast and talented, but Michigan can and has played better this season. Michigan's OL had a mediocre game and Shea Patterson (and Gentry-ugh!) played poorly. A few nicely thrown balls, but many/most were not. Too many were late or behind the receiver. We would often see receivers running routes two yards short of the sticks or the pylon -- not sure if that is on them or by design -- but Shea wasn't leading them properly either. He was not seeing open receivers very well, and stepped into a couple of sacks.

I thought DPJ and Collins accorded themselves well, and wanted to see more of that 'fight' from the rest of the offense. Not sure whether Patterson has reached his ceiling yet -- let's hope not, especially if he comes back. I'd like to see more downfield shots boldness in the playcalling. It would also be nice if, when they did call a pass on 1st down, they didn't automatically follow that with a run on 2nd

etatnyc

November 29th, 2018 at 12:11 AM ^

Do you think Patterson is really the one to execute upon your suggested change around the passing game?  Which, by the way, I think is spot on as I am witnessing the same thing.

I see Patterson often (maybe even consistently) escaping the pocket to his right running out of his protection vs. aggressively stepping up in the pocket within his protection to deliver a throw with his weight and shoulder behind it.  He also will bail on his protection earlier than need be, not always, but often enough to disrupt a consistent passing game rhythm.  I do see McCaffrey and Peters hanging in the pocket to deliver more solid downfield throws, and their limited time on the field provided positive data in terms of downfield completions and TDs.

I also see Shea holding the ball longer and often missing downfield 2nd and 3rd reads. His passing efficiency is great, but I think he limits our passing game’s upside enough to keep Michigan out of the elite category.

I don’t mean to knock Shea, as he’s a great QB.  I just think he’s better suited for a shorter type passing game with RPO reads.  If we want to maximize our talent on your passing improvement approach, then McCaffrey and Peters (Milton Is still too raw I think) are more suited to successfully execute based on the evidence we’ve seen this year, albeit limited evidence in some cases.  I would love to see us use more of the field more often by getting the ball downfield some (not a lot) more.

With that said, I know Shea has the experience and it will be hard to just throw in a different QB.  He’s the safer pick and has earned his spot with past success.  I’m just concerned our upside will be capped and we’ll see 2018 all over again.

tybert

November 29th, 2018 at 1:04 AM ^

62-39 may inspire a few off-season changes to game plans. 

Shea, given the time, can be pretty good. The roll-out, under pressure, and throw to DPJ to make it 14-0 vs. PSU was impressive. Not something any QB can do.

I do like DM and also JM, but we have the home schedule in our favor to go 11-0 into The Game. 

BBQJeff

November 29th, 2018 at 10:26 AM ^

I completely agree with your assessment of Patterson.   He's very talented but his issues are mental.   At times he's tentative (not throwing to DPJ with half of the endzone open against MSU is the most obvious) and at times he bails out of the pocket too early which on a few occasions resulted in him rushing into a sack.   His best game was against Rutgers.   He trusted his linemen and his receivers.   He hung tough in the pocket, worked through his reads and made his throws confidently.    With him the tools are all there, he's just lacking consistency.   He probably needs another year as he wasn't as good as he's capable of being this year.   Having said that, I can see Dylan potentially passing him in the off-season.   

tybert

November 29th, 2018 at 1:01 AM ^

Even though we lost the game in 2000, I commend Lloyd for knowing when we faced the spread offense of NW and lost 54-51, he knew the game was about scoring every time you had the ball. No trying to drain the clock. Drive with abandon. I hate that AT had to suffer because of the sad fumble that gave NW the ball back for the winning score, but LC had the right idea. In his post game, he mentioned "we just ran out of time" - had we another 60 seconds, I think we win that game.

JH needs to channel the same energy next year vs. OSU that LC had vs. NW and the Okie coach has in every game. SCORE and be aggressive every time you have the ball. Forget ball control, establishing the run to set up the pass etc.

This is NOT impossible, but will require the soul searching

 

detrocks

November 29th, 2018 at 10:41 AM ^

Not much to add given the in-depth analysis here and all of the great comments. Just wanted to say thank you for putting this together. It's a really reasoned analysis of what improved and where we need to go to get to that next level.

imafreak1

November 29th, 2018 at 1:39 PM ^

The simplistic answer is that this team needs to learn now to use the WRs more effectively. I think they tried in the OSU game with more long passes to the WR but in every case I can recall those WR were well covered, in single coverage, and the best they could hope for was a defensive penalty or great play by the WR. There no easy chunk plays to the WR. Which is more or less what OSU was getting every third play.

They have a great class of highly touted WR entering their 3rd seasons. So far they haven't used them effectively or even tried in most game, as the stats demonstrate. Personally, I don't see why highly recruited WR recruits would go to Michigan at this point because the offense prefers to throw to 3 deep in the TEs and 2 FBs. Or they'll split the RB (Evans) out and throw a big slant to him. And then when things go badly everyone complains that this or that TE dropped the ball. If Harbaugh can't get these WR involved in 2019 then I do not see how he will ever convince a highly recruited WR to come to Michigan again. Either they can't develop them or they prefer to ignore them.

Too often this offense operates with with a tiny margin of error meaning every little mistake dooms the drive or game. Modern offenses rip the ball down the field in chunks. 2nd and 10 or 3rd and 9 are no big deal because they know that eventually they will rip off a big chunk. In 2018, Michigan was not running a modern offense and was definitely not using the WR effectively.

Michigan runs the ball good. They throw to the TE good. They haven't figured out how to involve the WR consistently yet.

Mongo

December 1st, 2018 at 10:53 AM ^

We need to add a guy like Pariss Campbell in the slot to complement our trio of DPJ / Nico / Black as wideouts.  Our guys - Perry / Martin / Bell - are more possession type slots that fit a Westcoast offense.  The slot guy needs to be more of a YAC weapon for the spread looks to be lethal.  I would be in favor of converting DPJ into that YAC machine as he as the speed, athleticism and size to be a great slot/HB in spread looks.  We need more 4 wide plays with DPJ in the slot catching crossing patterns and churning out YAC chunks.  If we took away 10 runs up the middle and added those 10 plays with 4 wide in up-tempo, we could probably pick up a net 75-100 yards per game and average closer to 42 points per game.  That would be the offensive complement to the existing scheme enabling UM to compete with elite teams, so they can't just sit on your base stuff like OSU did last week. 

Realus

November 29th, 2018 at 3:11 PM ^

"Trace McSorely has made a living with a far weaker arm than Shea Patterson by throwing the deep ball quickly.  And if you have tall, athletic pass-catchers (and we have a shit ton of those) than even if the play is well-covered you have a good chance at a completion and a good chance at getting a pass interference call on an incompletion."

This is the critical deficiency in the passing game.  This is really the only significant change necessary.  Ideally we would have run / pass mixture of 50 / 50.  But even without that, quick arm punts down the field one on one with a CB would do wonders for our offense.

WestQuad

November 29th, 2018 at 5:03 PM ^

Amen.   I am a fan of all TE/H-back/Full back game plans, but my God Harbaugh was boring this year.  Our offense with Gary Moeller, Elvis Grbac/Todd Collins and company was very exciting.  Our defense was good, but we could put up points.   Our running game was reliable, but we'd always make big strikes down the field.  With Patterson and our receivers I expected much much more.

brad

November 29th, 2018 at 8:25 PM ^

Thank you for this. You captured the flaming hot rage that grew out of that game, added logic and evidence and laid out the exactly right answer for Michigan's offense imo.  

They don't have to blow it all up, they just need to make the most of their best aspects.

jgoodman

December 1st, 2018 at 1:49 PM ^

Describing McCaffrey's TD pass to Bell as an "arm punt" shows you have no fucking clue what you're talking about.  That ball was perfectly thrown.  Watch it again:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW7wtpP0lKw

Don

December 1st, 2018 at 2:11 PM ^

Only 2 conference teams—Wisconsin and Maryland—attempted fewer passes than Michigan in 2018. OSU led the conference in attempts with 483, while Michigan threw the ball 310 times.

On the other hand, Michigan led the conference in rushing attempts with 519, surpassing even Wisconsin. OSU had 492.

Total offensive plays: OSU: 483p + 492r = 975

Total offensive plays: Michigan: 310p + 519r = 829

Difference: OSU ran 146 more offensive plays than Michigan did.

That seems significant to me.

 

Michigan4Life

December 2nd, 2018 at 11:02 AM ^

Big part of the reason why Harbaugh is reluctant to pass the ball more is because of Shea Patterson. He has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long especially if his primary read is covered and he struggles under pressure (basically acted like JOK when pressured). He's a slow processor meaning he doesn't cycle through progression read fast enough or recognize the defensive coverage quickly to know where to throw the ball to.

Harbaugh made things simple for Shea by running the ball more and schemed receivers open. Shea has good arm talent but his deficiencies are what will prevent him from getting drafted high in the NFL.

Dizzy

December 2nd, 2018 at 12:27 PM ^

Your post is well constructed, but I fundamentally disagree that we needed to throw the ball more, and would also contest that we didn't have a creative passing game.

This team had glaring issues at both tackle positions to start the season. The coaches adapted to the roster and played to our strengths. Our offense was a fantastic compliment to our defense. It paired a ball-control, run first mentality, with a defense that regularly kicked teams off the field quickly. By the fourth quarter, teams wore down. If we could cover a damn crossing route against OSU, we'd all be here celebrating the offense's genius approach.

It's easy to forget that this offensive attack is a huge reason we tore through much of the B1G and were favorites against OSU at the shoe for the first time in a long time.

We lost in Columbus because of the defense, not the offense. Everyone around here that complains that we aren't offensively innovative, or should change our approach, should take a minute and remember the Ben Mason package that broke Maryland's mind, the Penn State game, or all the wide open play action bombs we got over the top all year.

We're not a passing spread. Don't like it? Fine. I'm sure Jim Harbaugh and his staff know more about football than any of us and will keep looking for ways to innovate that the average fan may not even notice. 

Go for two

December 2nd, 2018 at 1:27 PM ^

I waited all year for a full out hurry up passing attack. Unfortunately, even when we are down 3 TD to our arch rivals and we huddled every down. Going forward, we have to figure out how to run a two minute or 60 second drill. There is always going to be the time where we need to score in a hurry. This year that opportunity was non-existent. How many times do the Patriots go hurry up just to mix it up with the other team? 

If we want to be elite and compete in the CFP, this has to be added to the  repitore.

scooper9

December 3rd, 2018 at 11:37 AM ^

This is great work and not surprising at all having watched nearly every snap this offense took this season.

I was constantly bummed at how conservative the play calling was especially when running the ball on 3rd and 3 or 4.   

abertain

December 3rd, 2018 at 1:45 PM ^

I'll just leave this here: 

 McCarthy's West Coast scheme was behind the curve and relied heavily upon Rodgers' improvisational skills to create big plays off-schedule, but those fears weren't truly confirmed until the offense ground to an absolute halt after Rodgers broke his collarbone last season.

Those issues reappeared with the 2018 offense, which continued to look antiquated in comparison to teams like the Chiefs and Rams. The Packers simply don't do enough to create natural rubs and easy releases for their receivers, who have to win one-on-one in coverage. Of Rodgers' 21 touchdown passes this season, just two used a pick to create space, and they were both within two yards of the end zone. Two of the touchdowns included stacked receivers, but one didn't create an open receiver and required Rodgers to improvise and create a throwing lane for a score.

Raving Blue Lunatic

December 6th, 2018 at 4:36 PM ^

I would LIKE to see more passing on first and second down, regardless of distance, especially in the first half, against all opponents...and better pass pro to ensure it works. I think it should be okay next year, Stueber looks like he will be a pretty good tackle and there are others behind him and Runyan who are both capable and eager.  

waliwiz1

December 7th, 2018 at 10:27 AM ^

Great write up, Thanks!

Coaching: Everything is done by the coaching staff. From recruiting the types of players that fit the offensive strategy to being up to date on coaching philosophy,  it's all on them.

Years ago Bo's brand of ball was similar to the present. But I think Bo emphasized toughness more.

Nowadays, not counting Alabama's eleven 5 star players at every position on both sides of the ball,

it's the QB that runs the show and determines how well the team does. It seems like you have to have a QB who can run too. Just look at some of the ones around today,Tua, Kyler, the kids from UCF and Clemson. Give me some of that!

Sorry I kind of ran off at the mouth here. I'll crawl back in my hole now.