Lions run the spread all the time

Submitted by Fresh Meat on December 12th, 2010 at 1:17 PM

I didn't label this OT because it relates to Michigan's offense, IMO.  I also didn't put this in the lions open thread because it is something different from the game itself.

And on we go.  Has anyone else noticed the Lions have been using a ton of spread elements this year?  I have seen them run the zone stretch out of the shotgun, use a TE coming across the formation to block an unblocked DE on a belly play like Michigan used to do with Minor all the time, and just today the Lions did a freaking read option with Stanton.

I find this interesting for so many reasons.  First of all, for all those who say the spread is dead, then why are NFL teams using it.  Also, this has to give ammo to RR and other spread coaches who probably face a lot of negative recruiting about how their system doesn't prepare guys for the NFL.  Well, it would seem that isn't true anymore either.  I am firmly in the keep RR camp and I think this only strengthens the argument against all the would be "this system can't work in the Big Ten" because apparently it can work in the NFL.  And before we get any jokes about the Lions and obviously it doesn't work, I have seen other pro teams do similar things.



December 12th, 2010 at 1:47 PM ^

Watch the NFL.
<br>Seriously, don't you think that someone would not try to use the offense if they thought it could work? The NFL is all about finding schematic advantages.
<br>RR's offense is the option from the shotgun.That means your QB takes alot of hits. In the NFL that results in a great many injuries.


December 12th, 2010 at 2:02 PM ^

but think about this.  nobody in the NFL uses the spread, so there are a lot of quality spread QBs that aren't being utilized.  i think you could easily sign 3 top-notch spread QBs at a serious discount than say a $15M drop-back guy and a mediocre backup.

they just ran the zone read again for success (i'm watching the lions).  who knows, maybe some bad team would take a chance.


December 12th, 2010 at 2:22 PM ^

"none of those guys would last a season"

that's my point.  you sign 3 of them on the cheap. 

i think the spread's primary advantage is #s, though, and not just speed.  an active QB adds an extra player to defend and/or blocker.  that's it's true advantage, imo.

if i had a crappy offense, i might consider it.  i'm definitely not advocating it.


December 12th, 2010 at 2:30 PM ^

The issue of quarterbacks taking hits is primarily one of cost. When a team invests 100 million dollars and more than 10% of its salary cap in a franchise quarterback they want to limit the number of opportunities for injury. But if a team were looking to install a spread option system they wouldn't have to pay anything near that because the qualities they'd value would differ (at least in weight) from all the other buyers on the market. Because no other team specifically wants quarterbacks who'd thrive in a spread option system, a team making the switch could easily get three suited quarterbacks for little cost.

Plenty of high school and college teams have adopted a read option offense, no teams in the NFL have. There are two related reasons why this might be. First, there's more parity in talent in the NFL as compared to other levels. Because of that I think there's an attitude in the NFL that you shouldn't have to do anything crazy schematically to win. For one coach to strike out against that, he'd be putting his career on the line and all the other coaches would be rooting for him to fail because success would be an indictment of their own competence. So the second reason is that NFL organizations and the coaching fraternity is quite insular and risk averse.

The most compelling reason I've seen for why the read option wouldn't work in the NFL is that the defensive ends are much faster which means with the shotgun snap, there's much less time for a quarterback to get a good read on the base read option. I'm skeptical of this, though. It would be interesting to see if at the college level the read option collapses in the face of future NFL des. We did have one of our worst games this year against Ryan Kerrigan. Who knows? It would be fun to look at the data on that. I'd think at the next level, though, quicker snaps and superior athletes at quarterback making faster reads would compensate for quicker dlinemen.


December 12th, 2010 at 4:50 PM ^


Watch the NFL.

Bravo. Let's face it, some people put here put waaaay too much emphasis put on data. Sometimes the eyeball test and, you know, describing what you see with words is what works best.


December 12th, 2010 at 8:35 PM ^

I haven't been able to watch many Lions games because I live on the west coast.  Based on what people on ESPN and etc. have been saying about the Lions is that they seem like they are few plays short of winning those close games.  

The record doesn't say much, but I think they are slowly building a solid team.  I think there are some pieces missing, but every since MM left they have been drafting well.


December 12th, 2010 at 11:45 PM ^

They took the local kid (Farmington Hills) purely for PR reasons.  They keep him because he's cheap and knows the offense.  He's gone after this year because his minimum will be too high for a #3.

But any critique of the Lion's recent drafts should always start with drafting Pettigrew over Michael Oher.  To think they could have had an O-line anchored by Oher and a D-line anchored by Suh.  Talk about buiding blocks.

magnus_caerulus (not verified)

December 12th, 2010 at 1:43 PM ^

It seems that every pro team has speard sets, and will run variety of run schemes ans use zone blocking.  Pats run a "speard", and look at their success.    I think WR's and QB could see their potential at the pro level in spread offenses.  If you are talented and have success you will make it in any system. 


December 12th, 2010 at 8:43 PM ^

Like you said any WR or skill position player can have success in the NFL because of their talents regardless of the system.  When you say, "Pats run a spread look at their success" are you comparing our offense to the Pat's offense?  I have never seen Tom Brady run any zone read option plays.  

It might hard to compare the success of the Pats in the NFL to the future potential success of a college player who plays in a spread offense.  

magnus_caerulus (not verified)

December 12th, 2010 at 1:47 PM ^

I have always wondered if RR does get the boot if he would bounce to the pros, and try the Lions, assuming they would hire him, and prove he can cut it as an OC at the pro level.  With all the possible coaching vacancies in the pros and college potentially opening up, he might be able to not take a huge pay cut in the pros. 


December 12th, 2010 at 4:20 PM ^

How much time did you spend actually wondering about this? First, no one in the pro's has run anything close to RR's offense as their base offense. Second, the Lions franchise qb, Matt Stafford, is getting paid a huge amount of money because he has all the skills to be an effective pro-style qb. I doubt the Lions would hire RR so they can have Stafford running the zone read. 

The only team I could see your absurd scenario working with is the Bronco's. They have Tebow, and their other quarterbacks (Orton and Quinn) can probably be traded (Orton) or cut (Quinn) pretty easily. 


December 12th, 2010 at 2:10 PM ^

I don't see how anyone can say the spread is dead. More teams are using it every year in college. It wouldn't work in the NFL, though. Defenses are just too fast. Remember the Wildcat? Miami hardly uses it anymore because defenses adapted to it. The Falcons were running classic option plays a few years ago and they got 200+ rushing yards the first couple of weeks. But defenses adapted after that. Linebackers and safeties are just too good at the next level for such a wide open approach to work.


December 12th, 2010 at 4:41 PM ^

1) Watching the Dolphins Jets game, the announcers were just talking about how Miami is going back to the wildcat, and ran it like 27 times the last 3 games.

2) The Saints, Pats and Colts all run heavy spread formation, passing offenses. If you mean the read option won't work in the NFL, than fine, but the spread formation is alive and growing.


December 12th, 2010 at 7:05 PM ^

The NFL has had a great spread package for years.  It is called the "two-minute offense."  And most teams still execute it better than their base offenses.  As for the spread option, how about its predecessor, the run and shoot?  It's no accident that Barry Sanders "inexplicably" retired one year after going from the run and shoot to whatever the fuck Booby Ross called his "offense."


December 12th, 2010 at 7:52 PM ^

back in the NFL.  The Lions were unstoppable in that year with a 3000 yard passer, 2 1000 yard recievers and a 1000 rusher. They were the first team to have that accomplishment.


There are some option route concepts being run by the NFL teams and they borrowed it from Run N' Shoot offense.  Run N' Shoot offense is an amazing offense to watch especially when both QBs and recievers are on the same page because it is designed to defeat any schemes that is being played on the field.


December 12th, 2010 at 2:46 PM ^

The spread is not an offense.  It is a way to describe certain formations.  I want to pound my head on my desk every time someone refers to "the spread offense."


December 12th, 2010 at 5:09 PM ^

While I understand and, to a certain extent, agree with what you're saying I'm not sure that's a completely accurate notion.

Yes, the term "spread" is clearly referencing certain formations. Even RR doesn't really refer to his offense as a "spread offense," though he continually uses the phrase "spread principles," implying that there is something more to it than just formations. Looking at the 2008 Capital One bowl, the commentators referred to what we were running as a "spread offense," which is obviously not true at all. Lloyd Carr was clasically disgruntled when he heard that's what they were calling it. Probably because that's "Communist football."

Anyhow, what I'm getting at is the question of what you would actually want to call RR's offense. If not a "spread offense," then what is it? The base play is a zone read and/or QB iso, so perhaps we should start from there?

Or perhaps this would be simpler if we didn't put a label on whatever this is we're doing.


December 12th, 2010 at 9:14 PM ^

The spread option is what I would call it.  There is no "spread offense."  There are many spread offenses which vary immensely.  Texas Tech and Oklahoma State run spread offenses, but they're known as the "air raid."  Rich rod runs a spread option offense, similar to Oregon.  Oklahoma, MSU, and OSU run pro-style offenses often out of a spread.  I'm not taking issue with it being called a spread offense.  I take issue when people talk about how "the spread offense" works in the pros, when offenses like ours have no history whatsoever of working in that medium.


December 12th, 2010 at 8:19 PM ^

Scott Linehan is a John L. Smith protege and was an early disciple of the Jack Elway style spread, so it's not really that surprising or interesting.


December 12th, 2010 at 8:42 PM ^

was hilarious. Pittsburgh ran it with roethlisberger today as well for 7 or 8 yards.

Its actually a decent play in moderation in the nfl, as those crashing DEs/OLBs never think twice about the quarterback running.