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Joe Theismann Not Very Observant

As much as I’ve written about the Spread offense(s), I certainly don’t want to pass myself off as some kind of expert. I’m not. I’m just a guy who can notice when a QB gets the ball standing 5 yards behind a center, rather than under center. I can notice when the OL has larger splits. I can notice when a TE is … in tight, and when he’s not. In other words, I can tell the difference between a traditional pro-set, and a spread offense.

Evidently, this makes me smarter than Joe Theismann (Whoo-hoo!). Earlier this week, the FW paper had an article about Theismann’s thoughts about the state of college quarterbacking (bad, due to the spread). Theismann was in FW picking up the Davey O’Brien Legend award, while Sam Bradford was picking up his O’Brien award. Quoted passages are in italics and my comments are in bold type.

"They won’t run the spread in the NFL. Not at the quarterback position," Theismann said. "They don’t have enough quarterbacks in this league now to run the spread."

In 2007, the Patriots set scoring records running a passing spread offense much of the time. In 2008, they admitted switching to spread passing almost exclusively to help Cassell perform. 80% of Cassell’s pass attempts were from the shotgun in 2008.

That’s because there are too many guys like Ray Lewis lurking at linebacker, prepared to knock a mobile quarterback into the middle of next week on a designed run. The spread requires such runs. Oh, really? The NFL frowns on them.

It also frowns on quarterbacks who are uncomfortable taking direct snaps from center, although they’re a vanishing breed.

Especially in the NFL. NFL vet Kurt Warner? 35% of his passes were from snaps under center. Romo, Peyton Manning, Favre, Brees? Half of the passes were thrown after taking snaps under center.

His advice to Tebow?

"Go to a camp where you learn how to work under the center. You’re going to be a professional football player. Learn to be one," Theismann said.

He said he applauded the Sooners’ use of a more NFL-style offense that will make Bradford more attractive than Tebow if both players are available in the 2010 draft.

I don’t think Theismann watched very much OU football. OU runs spread most of the time, especially in their "no-huddle" sequences. Bradford looks to the sidelines for audible calls as much as Tebow does. The fact is, Bradford, Tebow, and McCoy all have the same amount of experience in handing off in the "I" and running play-action. The difference in their pro prospects is almost solely a function of their relative arms.

Look, I get that the spread doesn’t produce QBs in the manner the NFL would like. I get that the spread option has as much chance of being adopted by the NFL as the wishbone. Still, a functioning moron can tell when a QB is taking 30% and more of his snaps in the shotgun, and often in a spread formation. The fact that Theismann thinks they are still playing the game he played over 20 years ago indicates he isn’t as bright as a moron, or he isn’t even watching.

Let's go back to Matt Cassell for a minute. Researching this post, I saw a lot of articles explaining that the Patriots went full-bore spread in 2008, because their QB, Matt Cassell, was much more effective in that formation.

Hmmm. So Belichek, the best coach in the NFL, was willing to adapt his offense to suit the skills of the QB he had, if that QB didn't have the optimum skillset for the offense they had.


Given that a guy with three Superbowl titles is willing to adapt his schemes to fit his players' skills, just who the hell is Jeff Fisher to insist that his way is the only way?