The QB Blast: Simplify Offense For Freeman, WRsMay 4th, 2010
By JEFF CARLSON
Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson (1990 & 1991) writes The QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson is often seen as a color analyst on Bright House Sports Network, and he trains quarterbacks of all ages via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.
This time a year ago the Bucs were just getting organized with their new coaches, players and draft picks. New philosophies were being put in place under the new head coach and new offensive Coordinator, Jeff Jagodzinski.
Last spring we were told the Bucs’ offense would be run- and play-action heavy with their solid offensive line and strong stable of runners to complement either veteran quarterback Luke McCown or Byron Leftwich. We were also told rookie first round pick Josh Freeman would spend 2009 learning from the sidelines.
We all know those plans changed dramatically when Raheem Morris turned over the coordinating duties to Greg Olson just before the first kickoff. That wasn’t the reason for the horrible start, but it didn’t help. And the best intentions of leaving Freeman on the bench to learn turned out to be a “baptism by fire” after just seven games.
After taking on the task of offensive design and play-calling, Olson turned the team back to his comfort zone and to the previous regime’s influence, but all I could differentiate was a little less of the pre-snap running around that Gruden was so fond of and was mostly show anyway.
That pre-snap motion is hoped to expose the coverage, but as one long-term player under Gruden said to me, “It just made us tired before the play.”
Losing a lot of that nonsense was a step forward for the current offense. A young QB’s head is already swimming with thoughts at the line of scrimmage, trying to figure out what the defense is planning. And the more movement before getting set gives him less time to figure out if he wants to audible and what to audible to before the play clock runs out.
Another thing that needs to change from that offense is the extensive wording. While some of the running plays are called simply enough, the passing game verbiage is ridiculous.
If you watched “Gruden’s QB Camp” on ESPN recently, Gruden disparaged Colt McCoy’s southern accent, saying no one would be able to understand the extensive play call with his current accent.
I learned multiple pro offenses, including the 3-digit system that many teams are still regularly winning with (Chargers and Cardinals among others), and none of them sounded anything like Gruden’s — “Flip Right Double X Jet 36 Counter Naked Waggle at 7, X Corner. Heads-up for a 358 Cannon Check on 1.”
We know that football teams aren’t overflowing with rocket scientists in the first place, and players also haven’t spent years and years in the same system, nor do they spend the same amount of time in their dark “laboratories” studying film like their coaching staffs. In fact, players are much more likely to be coming in for the night at 4:17 AM, not firing up the video reel of third-down blitzes like Gruden does.
Although relatively good things should be expected from the Bucs’ running back contingent in 2010, last year’s run-oriented plan didn’t work out as well as hoped and this group still lacks a homerun threat.
This team is now squarely on the big, young shoulders and arm of Josh Freeman and the focus should shift to where the biggest plays will come next year and that is through the air.
To maximize that effort, Olson would do well to simplify the verbiage and pre-snap movement of whatever his offense morphs into. That will benifit his star QB and his potential star rookie wideouts.