So how has the hurry up offense become a thing? By changing the chess match of offense vs. defense from pre-snap to post snap. Most people make the decision to not study the full complexity of football strategy. And I agree with that decision, but knowing some core concepts can prevent you from yelling something incredibly dumb in the stands or in front of friends.
Football is no longer as simple as an offense calling a running or passing play. Defenses don’t simply play man or zone defense on a play either. I read two good articles this week that explain where we’re headed with post snap decision making from the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
The first was Smart Football’s post on the Texas A&M (Johnny Manziel) vs. bama (saban) matchup. The important note here is in regards to what is called a Rip/Liz Match.
Rip/Liz Match is a pattern-matching adjustment to a traditional three-deep zone, which means that the zone defenders essentially play man-to-man coverage after the receivers have run the called pass pattern.
Rip/Liz match therefore gives the offense precisely what it doesn’t want to see. To oversimplify, they do this because when the inside receivers run vertical, those nickel defenders and linebackers run vertical with them, but if they quickly break outside to the flat or inside on a cross, those linebackers and nickelbacks, rather than chasing the receivers across the field, pass them on and drop to their zones and match up to the offense’s other receivers.
Read the full article for more explanation. But, the essential concept is that the defense plays zone or man depending on what the offense does during the course of the play.
So what about the offense? Take a look at how Chip Kelly runs the same play over and over again with a large variety of outcomes. Taking the concept of a option run and expanding it to a run/pass option.
“The player Michael Vick is reading is linebacker London Fletcher. If he steps up to play the run, Vick delivers to Celek down the seam. Up top, you can see Jason Avant has a block set up for a screen to Jackson. And the other option is handing it off to McCoy.”
The term basketball on grass dates bake to Purdue, Joe Tiller, and Drew Brees in the mid to late 90’s. But that was a reference to the scoring potential of that pass happy spread offense as much as anything. What you’re seeing now is a playing style that is actually starting to mimic the strategy and real time decision making of basketball.