Offensive Coordinators Suffering Self Inflicted Wounds

By FirstDown PlayBook on Oct 8, 2021

Remember a few years ago when all of the offenses were hanging up 40 and 50 points a game? To go back and read you would have thought football was changed forever. Defense was dead. News flash. It is not dead. One of the reasons is that defensive coordinators are allowing offensive coordinators to induce self inflicted wounds.

We are seeing some very creative defensive coordinators slowing down offenses with two high safeties. This is not just in the pass game either. The run game numbers have taken a hit as well.

What we see is some defensive coordinators are betting that the offensive coordinator will not be patient with the run game. They know that some play callers just cannot help themselves. It’s just in their DNA to throw the ball even if there are two safeties sitting back there in the secondary. They have a good quarterback and they damn sure are going to use them.

The two safeties should say run the ball. All offensive coordinators know that. However, many are just wanting an excuse to throw the ball. Defensive Coordinators are giving it to them. In the NFL, Brandon Staley at the Chargers, is turning this into an art form.

Normally when the ball is snapped vs the Chargers defense there will be two safeties in the backend. Now one of them will normally be coming down depending on the down, distance and situation. However, the safety comes down very late. Staley also makes sure that his defenses have a variety of things they can do off of this look. His safeties are involved in a lot of tackles in the run game but are a problem for the passing game too.

College Offensive Coordinators Are Facing Similar Looks

Instead of trying to figure out which safety is going to get involved in the run game most play callers will treat it like middle of the field closed and throw the ball. Here’s your self inflicted wound. That safety has not come down yet. He could still be a part of some two high scheme.

Staley isn’t the only one either. Here are a few other examples. Week one in the NFL saw the Saints daring the Packers to run the ball. They played a 2 deep version with man coverage underneath. Rodgers struggled and the Packers were impatient with the run game. It is worth noting that 2 man is not that bad against the run game either because one defender is assigned to the running back.

College defensive coordinators are getting in on the act too. Ole Miss and Arkansas both went into the games vs Georgia and Alabama with a short box and a coverage minded defense. Here was the problem. Both the Bulldogs and Tide said thank you and ran the ball all afternoon. Their offensive coordinators and head coaches were patient with the run game.

There are plenty of examples of this philosophy succeeding and failing. We are not suggesting that you change your defense. We are suggesting that offensive coordinators should manage the game based on the defenses they are seeing. The analytics or ego that tells you you must throw the ball might just be a self inflicted wound waiting to happen.