The Myth of the Balanced OffenseErick Streelman
The Myth of the Balanced Offense
As always, I want to start by saying thank you for reading every week. I love talking football with you. As is so often the case, today’s topic comes from some lessons that made themselves apparent as I was watching football this weekend. I have actually written about this topic before, but it was so obvious to me as I was watching two games this weekend that I had to mention it again.
Today we are going to talk about one of the most fundamental ideas behind Win With The Pass. I started this website because I think that so many coaches have bought into a few myths and I think there is a different way to do things. And, because you are reading this, I assume that you actually agree with a few of my premises. So, today we are going to examine one of these fundamental ideas…The Myth of Balance.
How many times have you heard it…we have to be balanced, we have to keep the defense honest, we have to run the ball to set up the pass, etc, etc. These are things that analysts say all the time without actually thinking about what they are saying. And, even though we claim to think differently, these are things that we actually catch ourselves believing.
If I haven’t stated it this clearly before, I will state it right now. I do not believe in a Balanced Offense. I think it is a myth. I think it is a fallacy. Throwing the ball is the most effective path to offensive success.
Let me clarify. If, we have 80 offensive plays in a game, I would be ecstatic if we could throw it 40 times and run it 40 times. that would be awesome. I would also love to throw the ball to 7 different receivers and let 4 different guys run the ball and get everyone in the game. But those are never my goals. Balance is something that will manifest itself. But, I never call a game with the goal of being balanced. I want to run what works and get the ball to my best players. If that means 40 passes, so be it. If that means 40 runs, so be it. If that means 60 passes, so be it.
Balanced offense for the sake of balanced offense doesn’t make any sense. At the high school level especially, we need to think about what plays we are good at and who are best players are. Run those plays to those players. Forget about balance. Balance should be an unforeseen result as opposed to a goal.
So, that brings to me to a couple lessons from this weekend. I am referring specifically to the Stanford/UCLA game and the Titans/Raiders Game. Both of these games were close and low scoring. Both of these games were Pro Set, run heavy, old school, hard nosed, and defensive focused…at least until the last 2 minutes when they through the balanced offense out the window.
Going into the final drive, the Stanford QB had 77 yards through the air and Stanford had scored a total of 9 points. But, with less than 2 minutes on the clock, when everyone in the stadium knew Stanford had to throw the ball, he completed 6 passes for over 60 yards and a TD. The Titans were in a similar situation. They had run the ball all day long and lonely scored 10 points. On the last drive, when they finally put Marriota in the gun and let him throw the ball around, they went right down the field. (They did not score due to an offensive pass interference and a late hit). So, here are two different games at 2 different levels. One ended in a win and the other in a loss. But, I think they both teach us really important lesson.
I was not in the meeting rooms of either offensive staff, and I do not claim to be a better coach than David Shaw or Mike Mularkey. They would coach circles around me I am sure. But, I do know what I saw. I saw two teams that were balanced to the point of offensive failure. Then, when they decided to throw the goal of balance out the window and just chuck it down the field, they actually moved the ball.
How many times have you seen this? A team pounds it all night in pursuit of offensive balance and then when the game is on the line and the defense knows they have to throw, they start throwing and move the ball right down the field. Why does this happen so often? It’s because balance is a myth. If you have a good passing game, throw the ball! Even if the defense knows you re going to throw the ball, throw the ball! Throwing the ball works, even when the defense knows it is coming.
So, what does this mean for us? Everyone is in a different situation. Everyone has different players. But I firmly believe that the pass is the most effective way to move the ball. It’s obvious. And, the fact that so many coaches wait until the 2 minute drill to open up the playbook will always astound me.
That’s why I always use the tagline Keep Chucking It. Because it works