Last year, I can remember that the mantra of the offense being "Balance." Balance Balance Balance. Come hell or high water, you can bet the house that we'll have balance. Run to pass balance. Formational balance. Distributional balance. It made me sick, and it was the source of many long rants on my part. Its not that I don't like balance, but it shouldn't be a strategy. We shouldn't be game-planning balance (and in my opinion, we were). Balance should be a result. It should be the by-product of exploitation. Find a weakness, target it, make the defense shift their scheme and over-compensate to stop the bleeding, and then attack the new weakness that results. E.g. run the ball down their throat, make them cheat up their safeties, then attack them over the top with the pass.
It is my opinion that Schotty too often coached with balance as the goal. We always seemed to line up with Braylon on one side and Holmes on the other, rather than utilizing the match-up hell that would be created by putting them on the same side of the field. We always seemed to make sure that the touches were spread around pretty equally, instead of creating an advantage and exploiting it repeatedly. We often used cockamamie shifts and motions that had no rhyme or reason (like lining T-Rich up at receiver and motioning him back to the standard FB position), other than to create confusion of not only the defense, but of everybody remotely associated with the play, including the players involved and the viewers at home.
However, I will give Schotty credit for taking a more match-up driven focus towards the end of the year and into the playoffs. And the offense seemed to be much more dangerous as a result. Hopefully, he builds upon that and carries that momentum into this season. Having Tom Moore in the fold will definitely help.
Tom Moore is the offensive guru that hails from Indianapolis, and who had a large role in the development of Peyton Manning. The Colts, under the guidance of Manning and the influence of Moore, have been one of the most exploitative and explosive offenses of all time. Bringing some of that mentality over here can be nothing but good. And from what I can gather from the quotes I've read, is that Moore's influence on this offense and our utilization of Dustin Keller will be tremendous. I keep reading quotes from Schotty about how he plans on utilizing different guys in specific ways to create advantages. And I keep reading comparisons of Dustin Keller to Dallas Clark. These things have me really excited about this season. Here's some of those quotes.
I think he’ll have an effect on a lot of guys. I think when you team him up with Schotty (Coach Schottenheimer) and all the guys that we have, (Coach Bill) Callahan and all those guys, it’s just another way of (saying), “Hey, when we would attack, we’d use our tight end this way or whatever,” and I’m sure we’ll pick up some things that way. Dustin, he does some of those Dallas Clark-type things. There are some similar traits, so I think it will be good for him.
He’s definitely a Pro Bowl caliber player. No doubt, with his ability. I think even him watching Derrick Mason run routes, watching a lot of the cut-ups that Tom Moore has with me, (Schottenheimer) and (Devlin), Dustin is seeing how he can unlock his full potential just by cleaning up a couple routes here or there, really getting on the same page with me as far as protections, when he needs to look “Hot”, when he needs to look “Q” and stuff like that. He’s doing a really good job and really coming along, so this could be a big year for him.
Yeah, he’s been great. Any time I mess something up or any of the specific things I kind of mess up on a little bit, I turn around, he’s right there on my back just letting me know about it.
Actually, [o]ne of the first things that Tom (Moore) came in about, was the red zone. When we brought him in the first time, we just had a list of things, but that was a big thing. We spent a ton of time on it. Looking back at our stuff, a lot of things that we need to do a better job of are getting ahead of the sticks a little bit on first down. If you get into third-and-long in the red zone, unfortunately, you’re going to get, usually, eight guys in coverage, soft, cover-2, things like that, and they make you dump the ball off underneath. So, we’ve got to do a better job of not shooting ourselves in the foot. We had some penalties where we were first-and-10 at the 12, next thing you know it’s first-and-15, and that makes it hard. But we’ve not only researched it all spring, but we’ve started with it in training camp, like the second day we were right in there. And we’ve had it almost every day since the start of camp.
[Burress'] size, matchup advantage is huge. I think that’s something, again, you get him isolated. Usually, a lot of teams play where they can decide whether they want to cheat the backside safety strong, or keep him weak, and that’s what teams have to decide. If they’re going to single him back there, then obviously, we’ll have things built in for him. If they want to try to double him, then that opens up guys on the other side, as well, so it should really help.
I think, with Joe (McKnight), going into his second year, he’s leaps and bounds from how he started last year, just in terms of understanding the system and the way he’s working. He knows how we practice. He knows how we work and that’s been terrific. He’s such a great athlete, though, I think you’ll see us try to move him around a little bit and try to put him in different spots. I think that’ll be great.
I think, obviously, the fact that you have guys that can play inside and out with Tone (Santonio Holmes) and Derrick, I think you’ll see us run some more multiple-receiver sets because we can move guys around. Again, what you’re looking at with each guy, Plaxico’s size and strength. Derrick Mason, you look at his numbers the last couple of years, it’s hard to keep up sometimes with other teams, but when the name came across our desk and you go back and look at the film, you see a guy who is effective inside and out. We all know what Tone can do. (We may do) multiple receiver sets and move guys around. That’ll get us some flexibility and lot of this is just based on how they come along with the practice. There is plenty of time to get it all done, but it will be great to have them all out here.
All this stuff about using Keller like Dallas Clark and getting him to sharpen his route running, and getting different guys isolated to exploit match-up advantages has me absolutely salivating. I think this approach will also sharpen things up a bit for Sanchez. He won't be facing a balanced defense and have to do a lot post-snaps reads and try to take what the defense gives him. It seems like now the approach will be to create match-up advantages in the pre-snap phase, and he can attack defenses more. This should not only increase his completion percentage, but also his big-play opportunities.
There's a lot to be excited about with this offense this season.