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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs offense: What's wrong with the no-huddle?



So, you watched the Bucs move methodically down the field in the no-huddle, quick-tempo offense at times on Sunday and you're wondering why on earth don't they do it more?

This sentiment has been expressed often in the past two days, understandable given the nonexistent production of the Tampa Bay offense in the first half against the Lions. So, for those who don't understand, let's explain.

Coach Raheem Morris told offensive coordinator Greg Olson to go to the no-huddle to open the second half. It sounded like a good idea at the time because the Bucs had success with it to close the first half. But, sometimes, the no-huddle can be an all-or-nothing proposition. On Sunday, the Bucs mostly came away with the latter.

Many will point to the fact that the Bucs drove 81 yards before being stopped on downs in the fourth quarter using the no-huddle then, on their next possession, scored a touchdown using the no-huddle.

But there's another side to the story.

"We started the second half and (had) two 3-and-outs," center Jeff Faine said. "That’s putting our defense on the field for an extended amount of time. Not necessarily clock time, but real time. Then (the offense) is going out there for 30 seconds and (the defense) is out there for another five minutes, six minutes. If you don’t convert, it’s quick.

"Then those guys are right back on the field during a hot game. That starts to mount. When it’s working, of course (you say) let’s start the game off like that and play 2-minute all the time. But when it’s not working, a lot of things can go bad, and it’s not just the offense. It affects a lot of people."

Because the no-huddle uses so little clock time, when there isn't a conversion, the defense is -- as Faine said -- put at a huge disadvantage. If it works, the opposing defense is going to be gasseed (see Tom Brady's masterpiece in Monday night's Patriots-Dolphins game). But that wasn't initially the case against the Lions. Through the first 13:14 of the third quarter, the Bucs' defense was on the field for an exhausting 11:42, including a touchdown drive that lasted 8:44. That's a recipe for disaster.

Then there's another undeniable drawback to using the ho-huddle: It takes one of the Bucs' most potent weapons off the field.

"That’s not how we want to win games," Morris said. "We want to win games with (LeGarrette) Blount bludgeoning you for 130 yards and  having a couple of play-action bombs and being efficient with (Josh Freeman). When we go to that 2-minute offense like that, we kind of take Blount out of the game. That’s something we don’t want to do.

". . . I’m not going to sit here and tell you we’re going to be a spread (team), New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts. That’s not who we are. We got LeGarrette Blount, big bludgeoning back you've seen run for a 1,000 yards in this league. We want him to get to that again if not improve on it."

And here's a point on a related subject. For those who keep asking why Blount can't be used in the 2-minute offense, the advice here is to take the coaches at their word. If they prefer not to play Blount in the shotgun offense because they feel he is not yet ready to handle the blocking responsibilities, then they're right not to play him in such situations.

The alternative? Blount misses a block and Freeman gets taken out.

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 12:52pm]


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