Over the weekend several outlets reported that the Jacksonville Jaguars are planning on using Blake Bortles in the no huddle, hurry up offense. This comes as a result of the fact that he enjoyed better success last season running the Jags’ offense out of the no huddle, albeit in a limited number of snaps. This is not surprising, as no huddle and hurry up offenses take advantage defenses moving into a simplified scheme with a lack of substitutions available where the variables the QB must read and react to are minimized.
Basically, the no huddle can help a QB make more accurate reads by minimizing the number of reads that must be made, and the simplification of reads for a developing QB can help bring the game under control and make it more manageable.
However, the simplification of reads and making things easier on the offense also has the ability to lead to the unintended consequence of making things easier for the defense to read as well. Several Cardinals players came out last season after throttling the Niners and stated that they knew the routes the Niners receivers were running because of the team’s simplified route concepts.
Seahawks players stated they knew many of the routes the Broncos receivers were going to run in XLVIII because Peyton Manning & Co. hadn’t bothered to change hand signals used at the line of scrimmage. Hawks defenders also stated they knew what the Eagles were going to do offensively much of the time following the two teams matchup in late 2014. Even Patriots hero Malcolm Butler stated he knew immediately what route Lockette was running as soon as he saw Ricardo plant his foot on the fated red zone interception in XLIX.
What that all means is that the Jaguars will need to expand their no huddle playbook in order to prevent putting everything they do in the no huddle on tape in a short enough time period that the opponents can easily recognize what is coming. Pete Carroll touched on this last season when asked about whether the team might move to a hurry up offense more regularly as a result of the success the team was having in the two minute drill.
Obviously Russ has been phenomenal in the two minute drill, and it is likely that one of the reasons for this is that defenses typically simplify things a bit during the two minute drill in terms of substitution packages and play calling. However, what sets franchise QBs apart from run of the mill starters is the ability to make pre-snap reads and adjustments accordingly.
Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have become legends through pre-snap diagnosis of defenses, and in Danny’s flashback article on the NFC Championship Game comeback against the Packers he touches on this on his description of the game-ending play. Skipping past everything else to the Wilson-to-Kearse winner in overtime, this single play shows how a third-year Russell was a level above most third year quarterbacks.
With the ball at the Packers 35, the Hawks trotted out a two TE package with a fullback and made it look as though they would be content to pound Marshawn and see if the Packers could stop him. They were already within range for Steven Hauschka, and a field goal on the drive would force the Pack to respond with a field goal or lose. As Danny discusses, the look the Packers gave indicated there would be no help over the top, and any deep route would be man coverage. Many third year QBs may not have recognized this, or may not have had the confidence in themselves to make the adjustment that Wilson made, but if there is one thing in which Russell Wilson is not lacking it is confidence.
For the second time in as many years, Russell Wilson tossed a touchdown to Kearse following an at the line of scrimmage adjustment in the NFC Championship Game. And this was months before Russell would go on a tear in the second half of 2015, carrying the Seahawks to the postseason oblivious to the losses of two of his most potent weapons. What does this have to do with other teams implementing the no huddle offense? Part of the reason the Seahawks were able to coax the defensive look they got out of the Packers was because they were not in the no huddle.
Had the Seahawks been running the no huddle in that situation they likely would have had the same personnel on the field as they did for the third and long conversion the play before. They likely would not have been in a two TE set with a Will Tukuafu in as a lead blocker for Marshawn Lynch. They likely would not have gotten the look they did from the Packers on the winning play, and the game may have turned out differently.
Or, maybe things would have turned out exactly the same, but the simple truth of the matter is that Russell didn't need to move into the no huddle to be able to read and dissect the Packers D. Thus, while other teams are simplifying things for their third year, first round draft pick QB, as a third year QB Russell Wilson was able to read and react like an All-Pro.
Now, two years later the Seahawks are in the process of putting Wilson through a Masters program of football in order to make him an even more dangerous weapon. Just think about that for a second. A player who is already one of the best at his position, who in four seasons is one postseason win away from matching the total for all other Seahawks quarterbacks in franchise history combined, and who is signed to a very reasonable contract for a QB for the next four years is slated to be even more dangerous next season. A Russell Wilson led Seahawks offense has never finished outside the top ten in the league in scoring, and it is set to become even more potent as Russell gains a better understanding of the opposing defense, strategy and the game in general.
Oh, and the team spent eight of ten draft picks on offense and is getting Jimmy Graham, Thomas Rawls and Paul Richardson back from injury.
It’s time to get some popcorn ready, this could get fun.