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fordfixer
01-10-2010, 03:38 AM
Reliance on the pass not just a trend in NFL

By Scott Brown, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, January 10, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 61512.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_661512.html)

The four teams that received first-round byes in the NFL playoffs have a combined record of 52-12. To say they ran over the competition en route to the postseason would not be entirely accurate.

All of those teams have won big by using the pass as their primary mode of moving the ball. Their success may initiate what could be considered a seismic shift in strategy if it hasn't already happened.

The Indianapolis Colts are challenging the long-standing football tenet that victory is directly proportional to a team's ability to run the ball. Indianapolis finished the regular season with a 14-2 record despite ranking 31st out of 32 teams in rushing offense.

The Peyton Manning-led Colts were No. 2 in passing offense, and of the eight division winners, only the Cincinnati Bengals did not rank in the top 10 in that category.

The Bengals are ranked last among the 12 playoff teams by Las Vegas oddsmakers, according to gaming expert R.J. Bell of pregame.com.

"I've said a thousand times, the league evolves offensively and defensively," said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for a franchise-record 4,328 yards this season. "And you have to keep up with Indianapolis, the (New Orleans) Saints, teams like that. Because if you don't, you are going to be left behind."

The passing sensibility that has gripped the NFL is evident even with a team such as the 12-4 Minnesota Vikings.

While Adrian Peterson rushed for almost 1,400 yards this season, quarterback Brett Favre became the centerpiece of the Vikings' offense. Minnesota ranked eighth in the NFL in passing offense.

"I think what people are starting to see is that 'three or four yards and a cloud of dust' is not good enough anymore, and that we need chunk plays," said Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, whose team finished 7-9 despite ranking fourth in rushing offense.

The Steelers, who have long been associated with a smash-mouth ethos, appeared to embrace that concept this season as they finished seventh in passing offense.

More and more, defenses are daring teams to throw, which often results in bigger passing numbers.

"If you get eight in the box, that means there's three covering, and you have three receivers," Philadelphia Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver said. "So if you have those odds, that's exactly what you'll take."

The odds are further stacked against defensive backs because of rules that are geared toward more scoring and higher TV ratings.

Defensive players are not allowed to initiate contact with a receiver beyond 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. A pass interference penalty, meanwhile, is a spot foul; in college it is a 15-yard infraction.

"If you're smart, you've got to take advantage of that," Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said of the rules that help passing offenses. "You can't really touch the receiver after five yards, and if you breathe on them, you get a flag. You'd be crazy not to take advantage of that."

More and more teams are doing just that, said Steelers inside linebacker James Farrior, a 13-year veteran.

"When I first came into the league, there was a lot more running involved," he said. "I think with the type of athletes we have on offense, you're more apt to go to for big plays. The main guy on the field is the quarterback, and they want to throw the ball 100,000 times a game."

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers set career highs this season in passing attempts (486) and yards (4,254), and he is a major reason why the Chargers take an 11-game winning streak into the postseason.

Rivers has taken over an offense that not too long ago ran through running back LaDainian Tomlinson, the league's MVP in 2006.

But Rivers said the running game is still vital to the Chargers' offense, which works best off play-action passes.

That teams are not about to abandon the run can be seen in what happened with the Steelers last week. Coach Mike Tomlin considered going in another direction with the offense even though the Steelers had their first 4,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard receivers and 1,000-yard rusher in franchise history.

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is returning for at least one more season, but the Steelers could put more of an emphasis on running the ball in 2010.

"Teams still run the ball," Trotter said. "They have to establish the run. But a lot of times you see teams in passing sets and run the ball that way. It's the nature of the beast."

Passing interest

Top passing teams are also among the best teams in the NFL this season. Here is a look at such teams compared with teams that were the most successful running the ball:

Combined record of top 10 passing teams: 113-47

Combined record of top 10 running teams: 87-73

Playoff teams among top 10 passing teams: 8

Playoff teams among the top 10 running teams: 5

Teams with a winning record among top 10 passing teams: 10

Teams with a winning record among top 10 running teams: 5

msp26505
01-10-2010, 01:43 PM
That article mentions nothing about the failures of many pass-first teams in the playoffs over the years.

Just like the NHL game changes once the playoffs start, NFL teams often become more conservative in the playoffs, which is why while not necessarily a guarantee to get you into the playoffs, a good run game and good defense are the most likely recipe for playoff success most years.

BURGH86STEEL
01-10-2010, 02:07 PM
That article mentions nothing about the failures of many pass-first teams in the playoffs over the years.

Just like the NHL game changes once the playoffs start, NFL teams often become more conservative in the playoffs, which is why while not necessarily a guarantee to get you into the playoffs, a good run game and good defense are the most likely recipe for playoff success most years.
Not sure if teams become more conservative in the playoffs. It also depends how one defines being conservative. Pass attempts in playoffs have probably gone up since 2001(I believe 2001 was the year after passing rule enforcement)

I agree with the comment about playing good defense. Not so sure about a good run game over the years. It seems to me that over the last few years that the teams that won SB's were able to pass when necessary. The truth is probably somewhere in between. The bottom line is that teams should be able to do whatever is necessary to win. If the run is working, stick with the run. If it is the pass, stick with the pass.

SteelTorch
01-10-2010, 02:34 PM
That article mentions nothing about the failures of many pass-first teams in the playoffs over the years.

Just like the NHL game changes once the playoffs start, NFL teams often become more conservative in the playoffs, which is why while not necessarily a guarantee to get you into the playoffs, a good run game and good defense are the most likely recipe for playoff success most years.
Well like it or not, history clearly shows that the best passing teams go on to win Superbowls more often than the best running teams. Case in point: the Minnesota Vikings. They are dominant in running and stopping the run, but have only mustered one playoff appearance in the last several seasons.

The Steelers can throw for a lot of yards, that much we know. Now they just need to turn those yards into points.

msp26505
01-10-2010, 02:52 PM
That article mentions nothing about the failures of many pass-first teams in the playoffs over the years.

Just like the NHL game changes once the playoffs start, NFL teams often become more conservative in the playoffs, which is why while not necessarily a guarantee to get you into the playoffs, a good run game and good defense are the most likely recipe for playoff success most years.
Well like it or not, history clearly shows that the best passing teams go on to win Superbowls more often than the best running teams. Case in point: the Minnesota Vikings. They are dominant in running and stopping the run, but have only mustered one playoff appearance in the last several seasons.

The Steelers can throw for a lot of yards, that much we know. Now they just need to turn those yards into points.

I'm guessing that history actually shows that teams that can do BOTH win Super Bowls.

Teams that can do only one generally get shut down because they become easy targets.

I just want the Steelers to commit more to the run. I know they can now pass. I just want them to pick up 3rd and 2 and/or milk clock when necessary.

Captain Lemming
01-10-2010, 03:01 PM
Nothing has changed.
Teams that win have quality QBs.

But teams that rely too heavily on the pass often underachieve in the playoffs.

You must be "effective" when passing, but being a "prolific" passing team is of no great advantage in winning.

BURGH86STEEL
01-10-2010, 03:21 PM
That article mentions nothing about the failures of many pass-first teams in the playoffs over the years.

Just like the NHL game changes once the playoffs start, NFL teams often become more conservative in the playoffs, which is why while not necessarily a guarantee to get you into the playoffs, a good run game and good defense are the most likely recipe for playoff success most years.
Well like it or not, history clearly shows that the best passing teams go on to win Superbowls more often than the best running teams. Case in point: the Minnesota Vikings. They are dominant in running and stopping the run, but have only mustered one playoff appearance in the last several seasons.

The Steelers can throw for a lot of yards, that much we know. Now they just need to turn those yards into points.

I'm guessing that history actually shows that teams that can do BOTH win Super Bowls.

Teams that can do only one generally get shut down because they become easy targets.

I just want the Steelers to commit more to the run. I know they can now pass. I just want them to pick up 3rd and 2 and/or milk clock when necessary.

The rankings are all over the place for SB winners in the last decade. The one thing that was consistent was good defense. Teams can win SB without great offensive production. We saw it last season. It is difficult to win without defense.

steelernation77
01-10-2010, 03:22 PM
Funny that the two teams that run the ball well in the AFC, the Ratbirds and Jets, look like they are both advancing.

BURGH86STEEL
01-10-2010, 03:24 PM
Funny that the two teams that run the ball well in the AFC, the Ratbirds and Jets, look like they are both advancing.

Take a look at their defenses first.

steelernation77
01-10-2010, 04:21 PM
Funny that the two teams that run the ball well in the AFC, the Ratbirds and Jets, look like they are both advancing.

Take a look at their defenses first.

The Ratbirds defense has been no better than ours this season. When you have a solid D and can run the ball, you set the pace of the game and control the clock.

BURGH86STEEL
01-10-2010, 04:32 PM
Funny that the two teams that run the ball well in the AFC, the Ratbirds and Jets, look like they are both advancing.

Take a look at their defenses first.

The Ratbirds defense has been no better than ours this season. When you have a solid D and can run the ball, you set the pace of the game and control the clock.

It takes more then that to win in the NFL. If that were the case, the number one rushing team would win the SB every year.

There are people that believe running the ball and playing defense wins. There are other people that believe other wise. It is a question of philosophy. Contrary to what your philosophy would be as a coach, there are other philosophies that win. It has been proven that there is more then one way to win in the NFL. One way is not right over another way.

The Steelers have adapted the philosophy that defense and putting the ball BB hands more of the time gives them the best chance to win. I doubt that will change as long as Ben is the QB of this team. People should just accept it at this point. Either that or hope Ben gets hurt. The first Ravens game was one of the few times they leaned more on the run game out of necessity.

feltdizz
01-10-2010, 06:18 PM
Funny that the two teams that run the ball well in the AFC, the Ratbirds and Jets, look like they are both advancing.

Take a look at their defenses first.

The Ratbirds defense has been no better than ours this season. When you have a solid D and can run the ball, you set the pace of the game and control the clock.
That's a lie... once the 4th quarter started this season our defense was the worst in football.

Chadman
01-10-2010, 06:32 PM
If the Steelers did run more than they pass- there would be a bunch of fans upset that they don't utalise Ben as much as they need to- being the Steelers best player.

Let's be honest- the mix/ratio wasn't THAT bad- 2 1000 yard WR's, a 1000 yard RB & a 4000 QB is a good year.

Add some goal line/ short yardage specialists & we talk about how good the offense is..

BURGH86STEEL
01-10-2010, 06:41 PM
If the Steelers did run more than they pass- there would be a bunch of fans upset that they don't utalise Ben as much as they need to- being the Steelers best player.

Let's be honest- the mix/ratio wasn't THAT bad- 2 1000 yard WR's, a 1000 yard RB & a 4000 QB is a good year.

Add some goal line/ short yardage specialists & we talk about how good the offense is..

You are correct. Everybody has a different idea about how the team should do things. No one will every agree 100% of the time.

I agree that they utilized the talent on the team well. They need to work to improve in a few areas. Some of those short yardage issues can be addressed by the players blocking better up front and either having Mendenhall improve or getting a RB better suited for those situations.

Whatever direction they decide to move towards(run or pass) in the future they need to execute well.

feltdizz
01-10-2010, 07:11 PM
If the Steelers did run more than they pass- there would be a bunch of fans upset that they don't utalise Ben as much as they need to- being the Steelers best player.

Let's be honest- the mix/ratio wasn't THAT bad- 2 1000 yard WR's, a 1000 yard RB & a 4000 QB is a good year.

Add some goal line/ short yardage specialists & we talk about how good the offense is..
A ton of them were complaining about the under 27 pass attempt stat even though we were winning games.

If we had Troy with this production we go 14-2.