Much like accountants talk about years as running from October to September (so-called ‘fiscal years’), and students talk about each year starting in early-to-late September (academic years), I measure my years as starting at the same time as football season, specifically the NFL season (gridiron years.) Now, this has the slightly odd event that my years always start on the same day of the week, except when they switched from Sunday to Opening Night Thursday. Also, there’s a preparatory month of pre-celebration known as ‘preseason’, which has now become a wonderful ritual featuring third-string quarterbacks flinging the pigskin all over the field as if it were a lump of granite with no aerodynamic qualities whatsoever, and first-string players tearing achilles tendons, leading to the annual rite known as the ‘hand-wringing of the navel-gazing pundit’.
Like every year, I am excited to see how my beloved Philadelphia Eagles are going to screw it up this time around. I feel like McNabb will probably finish the season healthy, as we’ve seen him done in by injury too many times before – it has a bit of ‘been there, done that’ feel to it. Brian Westbrook just got the big money he’s been looking for, so he’s obviously due for a huge decline in production, followed by a shattered femur in week 9 or so, only to be replaced by some new guy nobody’s ever heard of who goes on to have a monster half-season before fumbling the ball away on the potential game-winning drive in week 2 of the playoffs. That’s my official prediction, anyhow….
But nothing gets me more excited then trend-watching. For a while, everyone was all about the ‘Cover 2’, or the ‘Tampa 2’, which is basically the Cover 2, executed by absurdly fast men who like to try and tackle the ballcarrier by hitting him so hard that their helmet goes straight through their chest and emerges from the other side, like that memorable scene in Alien. Now, everyone is talking about the ‘Spread Offense’, or even the ‘Spread Option’, where you put 4 or 5 wide receivers on the field. The Jesus of this gospel is Mike Leach, now head coach at Texas Tech, where he takes third-rate talent and uses it to create some of the most absurd schemes imaginable, absurd except for the fact that they often work. The New York Times did the best explanation of Leach’s career and philosophy I’ve ever seen. It’s long, but worth the read.
I, for one, am damn excited about the next evolutionary step, the A-11 offense, as documented by Michael Weinreb for ESPN.com. Basically, the offense has a center, two quarterbacks, and 8 potential wide receivers. It’s arguable, as detailed in the piece, whether the offense could ever be used in the pros, or even in NCAA football, due to vagaries of the rules about positional requirements at each level. But any offense which employs a
martial-arts coach, who has taught Piedmont players the difficult skill of blocking in open space, using pressure-points and other hand-to-hand combat techniques
sounds pretty awesome to me. Anyone who has ever played games with me where you have the choice of a strategy of ‘small but quick’ vs ‘large but unstoppable once it gets going’ knows that I favor the prior strategy in most circumstances, as I find it to be more flexible and adaptable. That is what this offense sounds like to me, which is one reason I love it.
Personally, I would love to see some footage of this thing in action – I’ll have to do some interweb hunting today and see what I can find…