Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images
The New England Patriots gave the football world a glimpse of the future on Sunday, running an unprecedented fast-paced, no huddle offence en route to a 31-21 win over the Broncos.The Pats gained a team-record 35 first downs, ran 30 more plays than the average NFL team, and hung 31 points on the board before running out the clock in the fourth quarter.
Today, Greg A. Bedard has a big article in the Boston Globe about how the Pats’ offence is a revolution in the NFL.
There’s a whole bunch of great stuff in there, but the most interesting nugget is this: If you want to know what the NFL will look like in 10 years, you need to watch college football, because that’s where all the innovation is taking place.
- The overall philosophy: run as many plays per game as possible
- A simplified terminology where plays have just one name
- Running practices at a faster pace than ever before
They’re keeping the defence on its back foot, not worrying about time of possession, and trying to score as many points per minute as possible.
All of those things are more or less standard operating procedure in college these days.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly — who visited the Patriots multiple times and talked to Bill Belichick about his offensive philosophy — is the visionary who pioneered the no-huddle offensive style at the University of New Hampshire in the mid-00s that dominates college football today. But he is hardly alone. Teams like Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and Arizona all copied Oregon’s success and are now running their own mutant versions of the no huddle.
For the first time, the NFL is taking note.
We’ve written before about how the NFL is generally apprehensive to do anything experimental. Even though the NFL is a copy-cat league, there are relatively few new concepts to copy-cat because everyone is afraid to break the conventional wisdom.
The Patriots offence isn’t new for football. In fact, any college football fan watching the Broncos game on Sunday would probably think it’s pretty tame.
But it’s new for the NFL. And if it continues to be successful, it’s only a matter of time before everyone is doing it.
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